Wednesday, December 10, 2008

TY Extended Essay: Alexander, Ibbotson, Lingard

The second Transition Year Extended Essay we're posting is by Susannah Cooke, who chose three novels with historical backgrounds, and writes:

"The sub-theme that I have chosen for my extended essay is relationships in times of conflict, though I have chosen Relationships as the overall theme. The books that I have chosen to study are The Kitchen Boy- A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander, The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson and The 12th Day of July by Joan Lingard.

When I chose these books I didn’t realise that they had so much in common. Every time I find something new about one book, I notice that there is a connection in one or both of the other books. I chose these books as they all have some sort of relevance to me. Each one is set in a period in history, and as history is one of my favourite subjects I enjoy reading about it. The Kitchen Boy is set during the Russian Revolution, The Morning Gift in during World War II and The 12th Day of July is about the troubles in Northern Ireland, and the conflict between Protestants and Catholics.

Reading these books wasn’t just a matter of pick them up, read them, and then never really think about them again. I had to analyse them, and this was probably the hardest part. Having never taken so much about a book into account, it was interesting seeing what I could discover when looking a bit deeper. With each book, I related to them differently, and had some own personal experiences and feelings that were similar in them. When reading a book, and I have nothing in common with it, it is much harder to read and focus on.

With each book set in a time of conflict, it made it easier to observe the differences and the similarities. My favourite book at the beginning of this essay was The Kitchen Boy, by far. I loved how it was a mixture of historical facts and fiction, it makes it much more enjoyable to read, and knowing that some of the horrible things actually happened makes it a bit more gripping. Though by the end of the book, I started to like The Morning Gift more than I originally did, I think it’s probably due to the relationship being almost perfect that it makes you want something like that.

I chose relationships as my theme, as I think that they were the main things that were affected by conflict. As conflict was something that ran throughout all of the books, I thought that it was only appropriate. I could have done other themes, but out of the ideas that I primarily wrote down, relationships was the most appealing, and the one I could write most about."

Susannah's impressive essay is now online here.

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