What to say about novels

Some help

Useful words and expressions

Description of a traditional review and other ways to talk about a novel


Useful words and things to say

Sorry about the explanations in Swedish...

1. The plot
(=handling, intrig), the characters and the setting (=miljö, var/när utspelas historien).

Examples of what you could point out:
"The plot is very complicated/simple..." (Är handlingen rak och enkel? Spänner den i tid och plats över generationer och kontinenter? Är det en kärlekshistoria eller en skickligt uppbyggd thriller?)

"The main character (the protagonist, huvudpersonen) is very innocent/hostile/friendly at the beginning but turns into..." (Hurdana är personerna? Är de "riktiga" personer - eller visas bara en sida upp, till exempel ondska?)
"The characters all change dramatically after the death of Mr Kurtz ..." (Förändras personerna?)
"The relationship between..." (Viktiga relationer.)
"The conflict between X and Y is very important" (Viktiga konflikter. Dessa driver ofta handlingen framåt...)
"There is a narrator (berättare), an old woman, who tells the story years later." (Vem berättar historien? Jag-person?)
"The turning point is/comes..." (Någon/några riktigt avgörande händelser?)

2. The language:
Long/short sentences? Descriptive? A lot of dialogue?

3. Background:
"The novel is written by x, a famous Australian writer but relatively unknown in Europe..."
"The novel was written in the 1960's when young people in Australia..."
"The author likes kangaroos." (If that's relevant to the novel, or of interest to you.)

4. Reflections:
"This reminds/reminded me of Hemingway's technique/ Shakespeare's comedies" etc.
"What struck me as odd..."
"The most fascinating thing about the novel..."
"The ending/ beginning was..."
"It was fascinating to..."
"The author has chosen to...."
"Remarkable, disappointing, astonishing, fascinating, puzzling..."

How can you talk about a novel?

Remember, this is supposed to give you some ideas - not tell you how to do it.

1. A traditional review:
This means talking about the plot, the setting, the characters, the author (where, when, why was it written) and the way the novel was written. Your opinion must be included.

Don't forget to refer to specific passages in the novel and to have some quotes from the novel.

2. Storytelling:
Imagine that you are one of the characters in the novel you've just read and that you were to tell the class what has happened from your point of view. Why have certain things happened? What's your relationship to other people in the novel etc?

Start this presentation by introducing yourself. (Who are you, where do you live etc.)

3. Acting (pairwork):
Dramatize a part of the novel and act it out to the class.You need to give some background information and explanations to the class.
Or, rewrite the story a bit: change the setting - compare the resetting Vicky is talking about when she describes the film Great Expectations.

4. Prove a point:
If you find something in the novel that you'd like to prove (for instance that Winnie-the-Pooh really is a mean little fellow) than look for evidence that proves your point. Describe scenes where this shows. Quote particularly interesting parts of the novel.

Begin your presentation by explaining the background to your presentation. For instance:

"Winnie-the-Pooh, the famous teddy bear in A.A Milne's novels, has always been thought of as very kind bear. A bit stupid but still kind. However this is not at all true, he is in fact quite a mean little fellow. I am going to show you five different occasions where he treats his fellow animals badly.

To begin with..."