Wednesday, 30 October 2013

I am Bookshop Girl no more!

Okay, so we haven't ACTUALLY sold the shop yet - we've got a second viewing this week though, and quite a bit of interest apparently - but I already knew that when we did I wanted to change my blog name to mark the new phase of my life...  Technically, I suppose, I could have remained Bookshop Girl (let's face it, I'm in them often enough even outside work!) but it didn't really feel right any more.

Sooooo, as you've probably noticed by now, the blog has been revamped!  I saw Library Mosaic's beautiful new look on Monday, hopped over to look at Avery's Designs for myself, and immediately fell in love with one of her newest designs.  I contacted her and chose her $35 package - a premade design, with an avatar and button (plus she made a favicon and custom backgrounds for me), plus installation and general tweaking.  She got back to me almost immediately and started work that very same night!  (Which, if you've looked around at new designs before, you'll know is practically unheard of!)  Over the last 48 hours she's installed everything for me, we've both tweaked things a bit, then last night she sent me everything she'd created and installed for me... and that was that! 

One of the most important changes has been my name; as of yesterday morning, I am now Book Addicted Blonde.  I felt a little sad to be leaving Musings of a Bookshop Girl behind, but the time was right.  That was actually the hardest part of the whole thing - as those who were part of my extremely indecisive Twitter polling conversation will know - but I'm really happy with my new name!

I haven't changed my URL - that just looks too complicated - so I (and you!) won't need to worry about refollowing or anything like that for the time being.  Maybe later...  I'll change my social media names at some point too, and I also have this beautiful new button should any of you care to stick me in a sidebar somewhere...  I've never had a button before, I'm excited!

Book Addicted Blonde

I hope you like the new look!  I absolutely love it - and Avery has been so quick off the mark, so helpful and quick to respond to my questions and anything I wanted changing, I can't recommend her highly enough.  I'm off to carry on reading Attachments and maybe work on some new blog posts now that my double review of The Shining is finally done and dusted...   :)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

DOUBLE REVIEW: The Shining, by Stephen King (4.5*)

~ The Book ~
by Stephen King (New English Library, 1978)
My rating: 4.5 stars

"It was the place he had seen in the midst of the blizzard, the dark and booming place where some hideously familiar figure sought him down long corridors carpeted with jungle...  It was here.  It was here.  Whatever Redrum was, it was here."

I really only knew the absolute basics about this book when I started reading it.  I'd never seen the film, and the sum total of my knowledge ran to it being about a writer called Jack Torrance, madness, a haunted hotel, a psychically gifted son, and this:

Which didn't turn out to be very helpful, because it's not even in the book, yet DOES manage to spoiler an important twist in the novel.  In fact, as I'll explain in the film section of this post, the movie is so different to the book that I really wasn't surprised by the time that famous scene came around...

Soooo, The Overlook is a hotel in the Colorado Rockies.  A hotel with a colourful history, forced to shut down over the winter thanks to the brutal snowstorms that render the mountain roads impassable every year.  Enter Jack Torrance, the new winter caretaker, his wife Wendy and young son Danny.  On their first day at the Overlook, while his father is being shown around by the manager, Danny meets Dick Hallorann, the hotel cook, who recognises his 'shining', or psychic gift.  Mr Hallorann warns Danny that bad things have happened in the hotel over the years, but tells him he should be alright if he remains calm and watchful... and stays away from Room 237.  Unfortunately, it doesn't take long for Danny's visions to reach fever pitch, as the hotel starts to affect not only him, but also his parents.  What is Redrum?  Who are the masked partygoers in the ballroom?  What did that chambermaid see in 237?  And most importantly, what is chasing Danny through the corridors in his terrifying nightmares?

My synopsis probably makes absolutely no sense - and that's probably because this book is so complex, the storyline slowly filling out, the terror gradually escalating, the themes swelling in importance, that my review is never going to do it justice.  Buuuuut that's kind of the point of having a book blog, so here we are.  This book is so fantastic, the menace so tangible, the characters so real...  To read it is to slowly descend into the Overlook's madness, to become immersed in the claustrophobic atmosphere and to see at least part of this horror through the eyes of a little boy who can't escape his own abilities.  King is an expert at playing on our fears and weaving a plot of such utter brilliance that he draws us in and traps us so that once the horror truly begins to unfold, it's too late.  All we can do is hope and breathe and read on.

In a tiny way, the book had already been spoilered - not just by the iconic moments in the film (which sort of relate to the book even if they don't actually appear in it), but also by the reemergence of Danny in King's newest novel, Doctor Sleep.  In some ways, that was quite reassuring for me: "Even if everything else falls apart, if other people die, at least I know that little boy escapes with his life."  It allowed to me to absorb the themes outside the horror without being too preoccupied; as always with Stephen King, this isn't merely a horror story - it is a novel about growing up, facing loss, inner demons, alcoholism, writing, domestic violence, winter and childhood fears.  Stephen King writes people, writes humanity, so perfectly that once again I was blown away.   

More than anything, it is a novel about bravery in the face of danger and grief.  The hotel coming alive is so scary because it is inescapable and inevitable.  Danny has seen the future, and the bitter storms mean there's no getting away - but thanks to a handful of good people with great strength - Danny's bravery, Wendy's maternal selflessness and Dick Hallorann's all-round good nature - they somehow manage to beat the unbeatable and stop the hotel's rampage.  There are some genuinely awful moments that more than counter the interesting-but-gentle buildup, and the tense, moving and truly haunting ending likewise balances against the gradual onset of Jack's madness.  When the hotel possesses Jack, the novel becomes truly nightmarish - the image of the "thing in the lift", with its bloody, rolling eyes, a horrific mimicry of a human being, pushed beyond lunacy to monstrosity, is still lurking at the back of my mind despite the fact that I finished the book nearly a month ago.  *awed clap for Stephen King, Master of All*

Soooo, yeah, I loved this book.  It was one of those horror novels where the actual horror creeps up so gradually yet so inescapably that by the time it starts to manifest itself more strongly, you're already hooked and have to read on, and on, and on...  The supernatural elements are so well done, and although they are undoubtedly real, they are so entwined with Jack's madness and the hotel's history that the reader begins to question everything, both on the page and off.  It gets under your skin, dropping hints and placing symbols and filling you with a sense of foreboding.  It's maybe not for the squeamish - there are some truly gruesome moments - but if this review has made you even vaguely curious, then give it a go...  It's definitely going to be one of my top books of 2013!
Notable Quotables:
  • "The truth is that monsters are real, and ghosts are real, too.  They live inside us, and sometimes they win.  That our better angels sometimes - often! - win instead, in spite of all odds, is another truth of The Shining.  And thank God it is." - Stephen King's introduction
  • "In that instant, kneeling there, everything came clear to him.  It was not just Danny the Overlook was working on.  It was working on him, too.  It wasn't Danny who was the weak link, it was him.  He was the vulnerable one, the one who could be bent and twisted until something snapped."
  • "Now his ears were open and he could hear them again, the gathering, ghosts or spirits or maybe the hotel itself, a dreadful funhouse where all the sideshows ended in death, where all the specially painted boogies were really alive, where hedges walked, where a small silver key could start the obscenity.  Soft and sighing, rustling like the endless winter wind that played under the eaves at night, the deadly lulling wind the summer tourists never heard.  It was like the somnolent hum of summer wasps in a ground nest, sleepy, deadly, beginning to wake up."

Source: This book came into our bookshop a few months ago and I pilfered it to add to my King stash!

~ The Movie ~

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall (1980)
My rating: 3 stars
Aaaaaand so to the movie.  Which really did NOT impress me, especially coming so soon after my reading of the original novel.  Perhaps if I'd seen the film first I'd have been able to appreciate both individually, but I had such high hopes given how amazing the book was and how highly rated I know the adaptation to be...  Well, let's just say that the three stars I've given it were mostly for the clever cinematography and the awesomeness that is Jack Nicholson.  (By the way, I find it quite creepy that Jack played Jack and Danny played Danny... that must have made it difficult to separate out character from actor sometimes?)  The rest was... what the term 'meh' was made for.  Sadly.
I guess my problem with the film can be very pithily summed up in one sentence: It's not The Shining.  It's set in a hotel and scary stuff happens and the characters' names are the same.  But the plot, the focus, the characters' personalities and motivations... all changed.  To illustrate: in the book, the hotel wants Danny, because of his Shining.  In the film, it wants Jack, for unknown reasons that may or may not have something to do with reincarnation, or maybe the old 'Indian burial ground' cliche that is quietly mentioned at the beginning of the film.  In the book, Jack is a family man who descends into madness.  In the film, he's clearly veiling violent insanity from the onset.  In the book, the dark forces are supernatural and the characters are victims.  In the film, the dark force is largely Jack.  In the book, Jack is a recovering alcoholic and writer.  In the film, JACK IS FRICKIN' INSANE.  In the book, Danny manages to get through to his father so that he regains 'himself' long enough to allow his family to escape.  In the film, the hotel maze somehow aids Danny and traps his father, who doesn't stop until he's exhausted.  In the book, the previous caretaker Grady and his family are just another part of the hotel's history.  In the film, his tragedy - and his daughters - are a key element.  I could go on...
I think the worst thing was the way the characters are changed.  I mean, Jack Nicholson is Jack Nicholson (and who doesn't love Jack Nicholson?!), but he in no way comes across as a loving family man, a father and husband, which somewhat diminishes the sense of loss and the terror at his madness.  Magazine writer Frederick Clarke once wrote that "Instead of playing a normal man who becomes insane, Nicholson portrays a crazy man attempting to remain sane."  I couldn't agree more - but then, that's how Kubrick chose to play it.  Shelley Duvall is hideously wooden, like a doll with an annoying accent, and I hate to say it because he seemed like a bit of a jackass, but I think Kubrick was right to be irritated by her.  Little Danny is... well, okay for a kid... but what they did to his 'shining' was fairly unforgiveable given that IT'S THE NAME OF THE FILM.  It's almost an afterthought here, not the focus, and the scene with him crossing the bedroom croaking 'Redrum! Redrum!' was just ridiculous.  I wrote down near the start of the film that the main characters seemed 'more like an antisocial man, a nanny and her completely unrelated charge' than a tight-knit family.  It's hard to feel sad for a family falling apart when they don't feel like a family in the first place!  I also didn't like Dick Hallorann.  As the hotel cook and the man who recognises Danny's 'shine', he is one of my favourite characters in the novel.  He is kindly, strong and reassuring, a figure of comfort and reason and dignified calm.  A beacon in the dark.  He just doesn't have that in the film.
Sooo, what did I like?  I thought some of the sound and cinematography was very clever: I particularly liked the scenes where Danny is pedalling around the hotel on his little tricycle, the sound changing dramatically as he rides on and off the rugs laid out on the hard floor.  The 'finger puppet' trick was an interesting way of getting around the 'Tony' thing - Tony being a manifestation of Danny's shining, someone who tells and shows him things - but by the end it just felt a bit embarrassing, to be honest.  The banging noises seemed to fit the book for a while - Jack playing ball against the lobby wall sort of echoed the recurring theme of the roque mallet hitting the corridor walls in the book, for example - but it never came to anything in the end.  The music itself was terrifying - layered and chaotic - but it was so loud in comparison with the general sound level that it was giving me a headache by the end of the film.  Jack Nicholson's dangerous mania was half-frightening, half-sexy, which is usually when he's at his best, let's face it.

One of my favourite things about the whole DVD (perhaps sadly) is the half-hour behind-the-scenes documentary, shot by Kubrick's 17 year-old daughter Vivien.  I suppose because she was an 'insider', the actors are that much more relaxed and candid, so it feels like a genuine peek at life on a movie set rather than a staged tour.  We get to see the actors rehearsing their lines, Nicholson cheekily playing to the cameras, Duvall and Kubrick arguing (about how bad her performance is, ha!) and even Duvall's 'breakdown' on set (such a delicate flower...).  There's a mini focus on the huge ballroom scene, and we also get to see the way the maze was built and filmed.  The most impressive thing was watching 'the filming of the filming' - seeing Jack playing Jack.  Seeing him maniacally laughing and threatening Wendy from the inside of the fridge then snapping back to normal the second the cameras stopped rolling...  watching him jumping up and down, limbering up, his voice changing to a furious growl, swinging the axe experimentally, becoming the character, right before the filming of the Here's Johnny scene...  It felt like a bit of a privilege, seeing a real old-fashioned actor at work, a legend in the making!  *Jennifer Lawrence fangirl moment*
Soooooo, yes.  I can see why King reportedly didn't like the film (at least to begin with), because IT'S NOT HIS BOOK.  I wish I'd seen it before I read the original, because then I might have seen what all the fuss was about instead of being disappointed.  For me, the characters, the plot, the whole feel of the book was changed too far, completely missing that fine balance between the original material and the compromises necessitated by the shift in media.  3 stars, mostly for some clever scenes and for the fact that Jack Nicholson can still make me come over all unnecessary even when he's bat-shit crazy!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Booking by Numbers

This meme was created by Jess at Jess Hearts Books back in September, but since I'd just done the A-Z Book Survey AND my bookcase was almost completely full of spooky novels for the run-up to Halloween, I thought I'd wait a while, until I'd mixed all my books up again, to take part!

The idea behind Booking by Numbers is simple but ingenious.  You take a set bunch of questions, then for each question, you use a random number generator (I used to pick the book you'll use in your answer.  Not only is it a lot of fun, but it gives your readers a peek at your bookshelves at the same time (and let's face it, we ALL like nosing through other people's books!).  I've used the 79 books currently jumbled up on my new bedroom bookshelf.  It's only a snapshot of my library, and it's heavily biased towards things I've bought recently, but it's easier to count through them on the shelf than to dig through all my overflow book boxes multiple times!  Here we go...

Book number: 37  Book: The Library Book by various contributing authors
Q1)  Have you read this book?  If so, what did you think of it?
I haven't read it yet!  Hanna bought it for my birthday this year - right when I was in the depths of depression - and it put a smile on my face just for being so cute and little and cheerful-looking.  It's a collection of short essays about libraries, by all kinds of authors and other bookish people, and I NEARLY took it on holiday with me but I didn't want to accidentally get it wet or something, it's so nice.  I'm thinking it'll make a gorgeous read for the depths of winter - books about books really do seem to WORK when it's cold outside and all you want to do is curl up and read!

Book number: 31  Book: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Q2)  Why did you buy this book?  Was it recommended to you?  Or was it a random purchase?
For some reason I keep thinking Charlotte sent it to me - probably because she recommended it so heartily after she read it earlier this year -  but actually I received it for October 2012's RAKI'd sent a copy of Mary Roach's Bonk to another participant, Beth, and she returned the surprise later that month with this book!  I was already dying to read it, and I'd nearly picked it up from the hotel lounge on holiday the previous month, so I was well chuffed to have a shiny new copy instead of a battered one that had been bashed about in someone's beach bag all week!

Book number: 57  Book: Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream by Abby Clements
Q3)  Based on what you know about this book, which other book blogger would you recommend it to?
I think one of the first places I saw the author's debut novel, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, was over at Books, Biscuits and Tea.  Vicky read and reviewed the book late last year, and also did this gorgeous nail art to match the book cover, so maybe I'd recommend it to her, if she hasn't got it yet?  I know that several other book bloggers I read regularly already have this one lined up on their autumn TBR piles, so I'm fairly sure a lot of my potential recommendations would be redundant anyway!

Book number: 39  Book: The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Money, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook by Ben Mezrich
Q4)  What are this book's bookshelf neighbours?
As you can see from the picture above, this one is currently sandwiched in between my Penguin Modern Classics edition of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita and Dave Cullen's non-fiction Columbine.  My books are pretty mixed up at the moment, because I basically only have this one bookcase and currently own a good... 700 books?  Maybe more?  When we first moved I filled the bookcase with stuff that might make good Halloween reading - horror, crime and paranormal novels, mostly - but on Tuesday I took a lot of those off and replaced them with a mixture of books that I want to read over the next couple of months.  Having them jumbled up makes it more fun picking my next one!

Book number: 73  Book: Redshirts by John Scalzi
Q5)  How many books have you read by this book’s author?
This will be my first John Scalzi book.  I'm ashamed to say that I thought maybe he was a debut novelist, but it turns out he's already a hugely successful blogger and science fiction writer with a range of projects and books to his name, AND he's done a fair bit of fundraising for various charities as well.  If Redshirts is as fantastic as Katie says it is (which is why I bought it - no pressure, or anything!) then I'm sure it won't be my last Scalzi reading experience...  Some of his other books sound interesting, and I might check out his blog too!

Book number: 36  Book: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Q6)  Do you have any special memories attached to this book?
Sort of, yes.  The first time I read A Christmas Carol, a few years ago I think, I read an old Dover Thrift paperback - one of those super-skinny ones with the naff covers and cheap paper.  Then this copy arrived in some books donated to the shop a couple of years ago by a family friend, Richard, and his wife Ruth.  Although we aren't religious, my dad plays the organ and when we were little he used to help out playing at services at a nearby village church.  Richard, a local choirmaster and school Head of Music, also ran the choir there, and as such was a big part of our childhood; he and Ruth, and their friends, sort-of took us under their wing and looked out for us when we went along with Dad on Sunday mornings.  This edition of the book is already beautiful - old, small, with gorgeous illustrations - but now has added meaning because last year Richard died after a very short and vicious battle with a brain tumour.  Now when I dig it out at Christmas I'll think fondly of him alongside my inspiring festive reading... 

Book number: 19  Book: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Q7)  Is this book part of a series?  If so, are you up to date with the series?
Nope, I don't think this one is part of a series.  It's actually been YEARS since I read an Agatha Christie novel, but I'd heard that this one was super-brilliant and (to my delight) was sent a copy by another blogger.  If it was you, let me know - I thought it came as part of the bookish Random Acts of Kindness project, but I might be completely wrong...  Maybe I won it in a competition?  Anyway, it'll be nice to return to ol' Agatha again, and maybe I'll pick up some Marple or Poirot books after that!

Book number: 66  Book: Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body by Jennifer Ackerman
Q8)  Is this book something you’d typically read, or is it out of your comfort zone?
I don't read biology books a LOT, but it's definitely not out of my comfort zone either.  I actually really like to pick up interesting non-fiction from pretty much any category when I get chance.  It's much harder to read them at the shop because you really have to concentrate to get your head round things sometimes - which is probably why I tend to read denser non-fiction mostly in winter, when we have more time off and the shop is very quiet anyway!  My sister read this one already this year and apparently it's not too hard going, so I'm looking forward to maybe reading it this autumn.

Book number: 7  Book: World War Z by Max Brooks
Q9)  Have you reviewed this book?  If yes, share the link!
Haha, no, another 'not yet' I'm afraid!  The books currently on my bookcase are mostly unread, which is why they're out and within reach rather than still tucked away in a box somewhere from our move.  There ARE one or two old favourites on there that are ripe for a reread, but everything else is new for me!  I've had this one for years now and I dig it out every time Hallowe'en comes around, but every year it's somehow missed making it to the top of the pile...  I've heard it's amazing though!  Maybe I'll have to bite the bullet soon and read it *gasps* NOT AT HALLOWE'EN.  It'll save it gracing my autumn reading pile a third year in a row, at least!

Book number: 23  Book: It's Not Me, It's You! by Jon Richardson
Q10)  Where did you buy this book?
I first bought this one for my Kindle, back when it was shiny and new and I was buying lots of e-books thinking that this was going to be the start of a wonderful friendship.  I read half of it and sadly, although I was loving the book, I was HATING The Machine, as it came to be known.  So when I spotted a paper copy in The Works for an almost-insulting £1.99, I picked it up immediately!  It was one of those "Why is that book here?!" moments that are happening with increasing regularity in remainder shops these days, and I wasn't going to say no, because Jon Richardson is my spirit animal.

Book number: 8  Book: Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
Q11)  Roughly how long have you owned this book?
Not very long at all!  First I dug out The Stepford Wives as a potential Halloween read (I've since read AND reviewed that one).  Then I found A Kiss Before Dying in The Works while I was shopping with my sister a few weeks ago.  Aaaand then for some reason everyone was suddenly talking about Ira Levin and Rosemary's Baby and how awesome it is.  So I bought it, in the smart Corsair edition, because I'm independent like that.  In fact, if I consult Amazon, it will tell me that I bought it on... *checks*... 18 September.  So exactly a month ago.  NEXT QUESTION.

Book number: 35  Book: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Q12)  Share the first sentence of this book.
"I address these lines - written in India - to my relatives in England."  A rather unassuming opening sentence for the novel widely believed to be the first detective novel written in the English language...  My stepdad read this one very recently and loved it; I'm still debating whether or not to join Ellie's readalong in November, or whether to save it for over the worst of the winter months!  I have two editions right now - a cute little Oxford hardback or this bog-standard Popular Classics copy - so I should probably pick one and discard the other at some point, right?

Book number: 41  Book: Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Food Critic by Ruth Reichl
Q13)  What's your opinion of this book’s cover?
I love it!  Between this cover and Ruth Reichl's gorgeously evocative Twitter feed, every time I spot this book on my shelf I feel a little bit warmer.  I think it captures the kind of welcoming 'bright spot in a dark day' atmosphere that the best bars, diners and cafes seem to exude - the kind that draws you in with a happy sigh.  You can almost hear the gentle clatter of crockery and catch the scents of food and coffee on the air.  In some ways it reminds me a bit of Edward Hopper's painting, Nighthawks, which I love because it spotlights a place that offers a welcome to anyone, anytime.  I'm hoping it'll be a fantastic winter read!

Book number: 22  Book: Agorafabulous! Dispatches from My Bedroom by Sara Benincasa
Q14)  In a few sentences, describe this book in your own words.
Sara Benincasa is a comedian and writer.  This book is about her descent into - and struggle out of - agoraphobia, or the fear of being away from a safe space.  In Benincasa's case, this safe space grew smaller and smaller until she couldn't even leave her bedroom - hence the title.  All I really know about the book is that it's apparently very funny, very wise, and at some point she has to pee in cereal bowls because she can't even get as far as the bathroom.  As a pretty much recovered agoraphobic (I didn't leave my flat for well over a year and had to slowly work my way outwards from there), I'm super looking forward to FINALLY reading this! 

Aaaaaand that's my Booking by Numbers! 

Saturday, 12 October 2013

REVIEW: The Stepford Wives, by Ira Levin (3.5*)

(Corsair, 2011)

"That's what she was, Joanna felt suddenly.  That's what they all were, all the Stepford wives: actresses in commercials, pleased with detergents and floor wax, with cleansers, shampoos, and deodorants.  Pretty actresses, big in the bosom but small in the talent, playing suburban housewives unconvincingly, too nicey-nice to be real."

Okay, so I mentioned before I went on holiday that I was still owing a review of The Stepford Wives.  I had a template all ready to go, and had even picked the quote I was planning to use to head up my post... and then Laura reviewed it while I was away.  Not only did she say ALL THE THINGS, but she also picked THE SAME QUOTE (which, let's be honest, is a superb summary of the book's major theme) and now I'm not ENTIRELY sure why I'm not just standing here with a neon arrow stuck on a hat wafting all of you over there to read her post instead.  BUT NO.  I SHALL TRY TO SAY A FEW THINGS.  EVEN IF THEY ARE THE SAME. 

I wasn't THAT impressed by the book, I have to say.  I mean, I enjoyed it and all, but I imagine I'd have enjoyed it a lot more if I didn't already know the plot and the twist and everything else that makes it so interesting.  And unlike Psychowhich I reviewed last month, I really DID know the plot, because I already shamelessly adore the Nicole Kidman movie.  Of course, the movie is very different - the ending has been changed, the oddness of the women is far more evident, it's funnier, and the whole thing has been brought right up to date - but the basic plot and characters are still the same...

Sooooo, it's about a fiercely independent feminist and photographer called Joanna Eberhart, who moves to idyllic Stepford with her husband Walter and their two children.  Unfortunately for Joanna, most of the beautiful local women seem to be interested in nothing but waxing their floors and cleaning their windows, while their husbands spend their evenings up at the imposing Men's Association.  It's quite a relief when she meets earthy, wisecracking fellow newbie Bobbie.  As the pair try to stir some kind of interest in women's affairs amongst their bland neighbours, and Joanna delves deeper into the town's past, they begin to suspect that there's something very wrong with the Stepford wives... 

The novel definitely raises big questions about feminism, male backlash, the role of a wife and mother and even pokes itself into the issue of scientific ethics - but it didn't really feel as powerful as I expected.  It didn't help that it was so short - flattening the characters somewhat - and that I was actually quite irritated by Joanna a fair amount of the time.  What WAS a delight was finding that Bobbie was just as smirk-inducingly funny in the book as in the new movie, even if her sharp wit is slightly less rude in the original!  I'm glad I finally read it, just because it's another one of those books that has ingratiated itself into popular culture and vocabulary so completely, but I don't think I'd read it again.  I want to watch the movie again now though, and the original film too!

Bonus points:  for the introduction by Chuck Palahniuk, in which he points out that while feminism was at its height in the 70s when this book was written, these days voluntary Stepford Wives are everywhere - painted and crimped on magazine pages, exulting their inner domestic goddess on cookery programmes, and harbouring ambitions to marry a rich footballer.  These days women are more likely to read about how to please men and dress well in Cosmo than they are to read news and politics.  He discusses the way older women are now more of a threat to young women than men, citing The Devil Wears Prada and the remake of The Stepford Wives as examples in popular culture.  His conclusion probably said more to me as a modern woman than the rest of the book:
"Now everyplace is Stepford, but it's okay.  It's fine.  This is what the modern politically aware, fully awake, enlightened, assertive woman really, really, really wants: a manicure.  We can't say Ira Levin didn't warn us."

Source: I bought this book from Amazon UK, nearly a year ago.  That's actually not bad time-wise, for me!