About

I was passing through the passages on my return with my basket of keys on my arm when Mr. Jarndyce called me into a small room next his bed-chamber, which I found to be in part a little library of books and papers and in part quite a little museum of his boots and shoes and hat-boxes.

‘Sit down, my dear,’ said Mr. Jarndyce. ‘This, you must know, is the growlery. When I am out of humour, I come and growl here.’ – Charles Dickens, Bleak House

27, female, holder of a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English and Women’s & Gender Studies (subfield: Victorian literature). While I try to figure out how to convert these degrees into meaningful real-world employment, I’ve started a blog in an effort to keep my intellectual pretensions alive by writing book reviews, quasi-academic (read: unresearched and heavily inflected by personal opinion) criticism, and other vaguely literary musings. The name of my blog is an homage to Bleak House by Charles Dickens, and is therefore suitably pretentious in and of itself.

I’m also an imposter—by which I mean, Tamsin isn’t my real name. I currently hold part-time positions as a writer for Shmoop and as a program aide in an LSS center; however, I haven’t completely abandoned the idea of a career in education, and because I occasionally post unflattering things about the educational system, I write under a pen name (the fact that that is something I need to worry about speaks volumes in and of itself). In any case, I came across the name Tamsin while reading The Return of the Native, liked it, and took it.

Like other book reviewers and literary-minded bloggers, I generally include images of the books I’m discussing in my posts. If you object, please let me know and I will remove the offending image immediately.

In the interests of full disclosure, I will also add that I am a member of Amazon’s affiliate program, meaning that if you use the link I provide at the bottom of a book review in order to purchase the book, I will receive a very small portion of the profits. I also sometimes receive free copies of books from publishers in exchange for my opinions. Although this does not influence my review of the book, I make note of it at the end of my posting; all other books I review are either purchased or borrowed from the library.

Thanks for stopping by!

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23 responses to “About

  1. I started my blog for many of the same reasons. I had graduated from university and, in general, wasn’t feeling challenged by my life. Enter the quasi-academic criticism! I’ve yet to keep one of my book reviews under 1,000 words. ha!

    • It’s definitely a challenge, and no matter what I do, I always feel like there’s a lot more to be said. I find it kind of liberating at the same time, though–it’s nice to be able to give a sort of impressionistic response without worrying about having (or seeming to have) all the answers to the book you’re discussing.

  2. Razor sharp wit, I may have to come back and read you.

    • Aww, thanks! I really liked your piece about avoiding overly negative book reviews. Since tastes obviously vary from person to person, I always try to give books the benefit of the doubt–if they’re successful at what they’re trying to do, I generally give them a good review, even if they’re not my personal favorites.

  3. Having been a lawyer for many years I love your quoting Bleak House. Your reading and reviews are intelligent. I don’t mind literary fiction. If you are in the U.S. I concur about teacher certification. I too blog about books I read If you care to look. Mostly fiction. Currently partially through The Goldfinch, The Luminaries, The Wall (Jurek Becker short stories), Alexander Hamilton biography (Ron Chernow) and just finished “Archangel” (Andrea Barrett short stories). I will be following you.

    • Following you as well! It’s nice to see a lawyer who can still appreciate Dickens in spite of all the lawyer jokes (although, to be fair, he had harsh words for a lot of people). How have you liked The Goldfinch so far, if you don’t mind my asking? I feel like I’m the only person who hasn’t read it; I don’t have any particular reason not to, but I wasn’t immediately intrigued by the storyline, and I was probably (perversely) turned off a bit by all the hype.

      • I will be reviewing it by the weekend. I have less than 100 pages to go before it is due back at the library. I had to stop reading The Luminaries because I could not renew The Goldfinch. I have not read any other of Donna Tartt’s works, have you?

        Lawyers appreciate Bleak House more than you might imagine, because they continue to live it.

      • No, I have to admit Donna Tartt is sort of a chink in my reading habits–I know people love her novels, but I’ve just never gotten around to any of them somehow.

        I suppose part of my surprise can also be chalked up to the fact that Bleak House just isn’t one of Dickens’ most famous novels (although it’s probably my favorite). Academics love it, I know, because of the split narrative, but I can see where a 1,000+ page novel might not rank high on a lot of people’s reading lists.

  4. Look forwar to reading more of your blog!

    • Thanks! I’m following you as well–the number of book blogs out there is a little daunting, but yours seems really interesting (and makes me feel a little guilty, since I own a lot of books I haven’t gotten around to reading yet!)

      • Most people say I make them feel better about their TBR piles!!

      • Haha, well, I feel better in the sense that I don’t have quite that many books lying around, but worse in the sense that I’m only making vague attempts at tackling them as a result of being continually distracted by other books…

  5. I finished The Goldfinch and reviewed it. I thought of your comment about hype while writing my review. In a bookstore today and ran across Quartet for the End of Time by Johanna Skidsrud. Looks worthwhile, but I still have to slog through the Luminaries and I picked up some short stories by Alice Munro (can’t go wrong). Nice to have a follower who just likes to read.

    • I’ll have to check out your review–I’ve really enjoyed reading reactions to The Goldfinch, even if I’m still on the fence about the book itself. It’s funny, because I’m generally not the kind of person who frowns on something just because it’s popular–I actually find a lot of pop culture really interesting and worthwhile–but I do sometimes find all the media coverage surrounding hotly anticipated books grating. I’m actually beginning to have a similar reaction to all the articles about Gone Girl, although in that case, it didn’t stop me from going to see the movie (largely because I had already read–and truly enjoyed–the novel).

  6. Since Bleak House is my favourite book of all time I love the name of your blog – and admire your taste!

    Looking forward to reading more of your reviews… 🙂

    • Oh wow, nice to meet a fellow fan! I’ve never really read a Dickens novel I didn’t like, so it’s always painful for me to pick a favorite, but I tend to go with Bleak House overall.

      Anyway, thanks for the follow! I was actually really struck by your taste when I came across your blog (definitely agree with you about the 2005 BBC version of Bleak House, by the way–I don’t even know how many times I’ve watched it, but I remember when I first saw it, I was absolutely blown away by Gillian Anderson’s performance).

  7. Melissa Pritchard responded to me and this time I remembered to suggest that she read your blog and gave her the link. She has a new novel out called “Palmerino” which given your interest in the Victorian era might interest you. It is a transformative biography of Violet Paget. Her style is unique, although I have not read this new work.

    • Oh, wow, thank you! I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read anything by her, although I had heard of her latest novel–I may have to see if I can get my hands on a copy!

  8. Pingback: Penny Dreadful: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Roughly) | Reading In The Growlery

  9. I’m glad you explained the blog title. I only found this blog today and it was already bothering me that I didn’t know what it meant. 🙂

  10. Jim

    As someone always searching for articulate, thoughtful book reviews to help with my reading selections, I always enjoy receiving your insights and hope for more in the future.

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