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My name is Miss D’Lima and I am now the Assistant Headteacher, having served as the Curriculum Leader of English from 2017 to 2023, and being part of the English team since 2013. It is my great privilege to have worked with many Year 7 cohorts in this time, who have flourished as readers and writers - even if they struggled at first.

One of my favourite books is ‘Rebecca’; the writer, Daphne Du Maurier, cinematically crafts an unnamed young narrator, who marries the wealthy widower Maxim De Winter. Upon returning with him to his home, Manderley, a gorgeous yet eerie country estate, she realises both the house and its residents are haunted by the memory of Maxim’s beautiful, late wife - the eponymous Rebecca… But is it just a memory?

I love this book because it encapsulates a myriad of different genres: Gothic, romance, mystery, thriller and bildungsroman [a novel of development]. For the reader, it is suspenseful and atmospheric - even the last line of the novel will continue to provoke questions! 

Miss MacDonald: Slaughterhouse 5, Kurt Vonnegut

I have been an English teacher at Heston since 2002 and the Curriculum Leader of English since 2023. I read this book as a teenager and have re-read it many times since. It is about a World War Two bomber pilot called Billy Pilgrim who has been badly wounded in battle and now lies in hospital. Like his peers, he is psychologically damaged by war too. His memories of dropping bombs on German cities beneath him are fragmented and unreliable. Sometimes they even seem amusing - he has, to a certain extent, lost his mind. The cruel power struggles that the human race acts out in the name of empire building seem absurd and surreal. Pilgrim imagines or in fact does - it is never clear - encounter aliens who ask him about life on our planet. I really like the image in the dialogue below that shows people can be trapped by historical circumstance.

"Why me?"
"That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?"
"Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”

Miss Reinvald - Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

"Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens is a timeless masterpiece worth reading over and over again. This Bildungsroman follows the story of Pip and his journey from a humble orphan to a gentleman of "great expectations." Throughout his journey, we meet memorable characters who mould his character and open his eyes to what it means to be a good person. As you embark on his journey, you will feel frustrated with Pip as he begins to value status and wealth over his family and loved ones, but it is his journey to redemption and self-discovery that is admirable. Pip’s relatable and flawed character will draw you in as he makes mistakes, allowing us to see parts of our struggles and imperfections. Pip’s journey conveys how greatness lies not in social status but in character and integrity. The novel will leave you pondering the impact of dividing and categorising people by their status and class, something that continues to happen today.

Favourite quote: “There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth”

Miss Currie: The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver  


Having read ‘The Poisonwood Bible’, which I enjoyed, I turned to another of Barbara Kingsolver’s novels and found it more engrossing than the former.

Drawn initially by my lack of understanding of the title, I researched the word ‘Lacuna’ and was puzzled by the writer’s choice. Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an journey from the Mexico City of the artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbour, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. We even meet Trotsky, the exiled Russian leader.

The protagonist, Harison Shepherd, meets and interacts with all of the above, and only, right at the end of an epic novel, does the reader discover how aptly the novel is named.

Miss Kaur: The Shining, Stephen King

I vividly remember reading this book for the first time when I was in year 10, in broad daylight on the way to school and feeling the ice-cold chill of fear. That’s how scary it was! King is widely regarded as one of the greatest horror writers of all time and this is, perhaps, his greatest novel. Initially, you feel sheer terror for the novel’s young protagonist, Danny, as he navigates the haunted halls of The Overlook Hotel. Then, as the novel progresses, King is able to combine those frightening moments with touching and sad moments between a family that is being torn apart by mental health struggles and the evil forces in the hotel.

My Favourite Quote: “That’s your job in this hard world, to keep your love alive and see that you get on, no matter what. Pull your act together and just go on.”

Miss Ghatore: Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

"Having read this book as a teenager, I was awestruck by Jane Eyre's beautiful blend of Gothicism, horror and feminism. It revolves around an orphan, Jane, and her fight for freedom and independence as she matures from a rebelling young child to a passionate and strong young woman, who sticks by her beliefs no matter what people [or society] say.

The atmosphere is also spooky and eerie - read on and you’ll encounter a cruel aunt, a mysterious and brooding Mr. Rochester and a strange madwoman in the attic …

My favourite quote: 'I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will'

Miss Hafez's: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's

In The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway, characterised as a sincere and earnest friend, exposes the irresponsibly extravagant lifestyles of society's elite groups. It is a tragic story which juggles the themes of obsessive greed, the misconceptions between love and lust, the scarcity of loyalty and the search for ultimate power. 

Though this story is fictional and explores an array of characters and their own distinct subplots, Fitzgerald critiques the unjust structure of the class divide which is an unfortunate part of the society we live in; and that perhaps, just maybe, the readers ought to learn the consequences about the way people treat one another in life. 

Favourite quote: "Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead."

Miss Strachan: The Catcher in the Rye, J.D Salinger

My favourite book is one I first experience while in secondary school myself. It is one of the books that drove me to have a love and passion for all things literature. I hope that one day you will give this book a go and feel the same feelings I did…and if not this book, another that fuels a lifelong interest in reading!

This novel by J.D. Salinger was published in 1951. The novel details two days in the life of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield after he has been expelled from prep school. Confused and disillusioned, Holden searches for truth and rails against the “phoniness” of the adult world. He ends up exhausted and emotionally unstable. The events are related after the fact.

Favourite quote: “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.”                    

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