5 More Book Reviews

The Expatriates
Author: Corinne O’Flynn
Published: 16th October 2014
Goodreads Rating: 4.20 out of 5
Reviewed: November 2014

The Expatriates is the first book in the Song of the Sending young adult fantasy series by Corinne O’Flynn. Seventeen-year-old Jim knows he was not originally from this modern world. He can tap into animals’ minds and has friends with other abilities. Brought up to believe that his original world had been destroyed, Jim is shocked when he receives a message saying he is needed back home. Jim’s life is completely turned upside down, and he finds himself running for his life with his two friends, Sam and Charlie.

After discovering how to return to his homeland, he quickly learns that he has been told lies all his life. He never realized he was such an important person, nor that this put him in serious danger.

Jim’s story is fast-paced and exciting as things go from the relatively normal to the completely unexpected. O’Flynn has done a great job of contrasting modern California with the fictional medieval world, Bellenor. Not only does it seem like the three friends have stepped back in time, but the place becomes gradually more and more magical.

As well as his two friends, Jim has a tiger called Bak as a companion. He can connect with Bak’s mind, and it is clear that they share a close bond. Readers will fall in love with Bak and his toddler-like sentences as he converses with Jim. This was a nice touch to the general story.

The reader is only introduced to a couple of mythical creatures. Although one is familiar by name, they are a reimagined concept rather than the way they are typically portrayed in existing fantasy fiction. This uniqueness helps this book to stand out amongst others within this genre.

There was a romantic aspect to the story, but it felt a little unnecessary, although it may appeal to some readers. The pace of the book made it quick to read, which, by no means a bad thing, resulted in a lack of depth in some areas.

Overall, The Expatriates is a brilliant book. It appeals to people’s sense of adventure but also plays on emotions. Having an animal as a key character and being able to get into its thoughts is an interesting concept. It will be intriguing to discover what happens next.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Published: 20th March 2012
Goodreads Rating: 4.04 out of 5
Reviewed: December 2014

Recently brought to the big screen starring Academy Award Winner Reese Witherspoon, Wild is a true account of Cheryl Strayed’s epic hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). For three months, Cheryl treks from Mojave, California, through Oregon before finishing at the Bridge of the Gods.

Wild is a compelling story that reveals a young woman’s determination and bravery to complete her impulsive walk of eleven hundred miles. Ill-prepared and still struggling with her mother’s death a few years earlier, Cherly sets off, unaware of the strength she would need to complete her challenge.

As Cheryl writes, the reader learns how she survives the severe changes in weather conditions, her lack of food and money, and her damaged feet, including missing toenails. Cheryl Strayed’s story is an inspiration to readers as she proves that a human being can go above and beyond expectations in extraordinary circumstances. Despite having the truth laid out on paper, it is impossible to imagine the emotions and physical exertion Cheryl must have gone through.

A good thing about this biographical tale is that Cheryl’s narrative does not solely focus on the PCT but refers back to events of the past that have made Cheryl who she is today and influenced her decision to begin the trail. The reader begins to know the real Cheryl and understand what she is feeling and thinking at different points in the book.

Although reading about someone going for a long walk may sound unappealing, it is so beautifully written and full of raw emotion that it will be enjoyed by many readers.

All Fall Down
Author: Ally Carter
Published: 20th January 2015
Goodreads Rating: 3.85 out of 5
Reviewed: April 2015

Ally Carter has become well known for her Gallagher Girls series and Heist Society series and is now back with a brand new young adult series: Embassy Row. After witnessing the death of her mother three years earlier, sixteen-year-old Grace is shipped off to Adria to live with her ambassador grandfather at the United States embassy. Well known for her daredevil, rebellious history, she is now expected to settle down, become more ladylike and attend international balls. Grace, on the other hand, has other plans.

Grace is convinced her mother was murdered and that she knows who the murderer was. The only problem is no one believes her: not her grandfather nor the many psychiatrists, and even her friends have their doubts. So, Grace does what any “self-respecting mentally unbalanced teenager” would do and takes matters into her own hands.

It is exciting to read about Grace putting pieces of the puzzle together by investigating underground tunnels, tailing a scarred man around the city and behaving like James Bond. As the plot begins to climax, it is difficult not to rush through the novel to discover how it ends.

As well as the mystery storyline, Ally Carter also explores the theme of mental health. Naturally, Grace has had issues since the death of her mother and finds herself, time and again, trying to convince people she is not crazy. Readers who have experienced mental health problems may relate to not being taken seriously and understand Grace’s frustration.

Overall, All Fall Down is a fantastic and exciting story to read. The air of mystery and the feeling of suspense keeps the reader on their toes as they race through the book. It is also refreshing to read a young adult novel that does not focus on a teenage love story. 

Extraordinary Means
Author: Robyn Schneider
Published: 26th May 2015
Goodreads Rating: 3.94 out of 5
Reviewed: May 2015

Extraordinary Means is a coming-of-age novel by Robyn Schneider that promises to live up to the expectations of John Green and Stephen Chbosky fans. Set in the near future, Lane Rosen has spent his seventeen years studying and ensuring he achieves his best at school. With high hopes of getting into Stanford, he is distraught when he is sent to Latham House, a sanatorium in the Santa Cruz Mountains, after contracting tuberculosis.

Although in today’s society tuberculosis is curable, Schneider has invented a total drug-resistant TB, which is highly contagious and needs to be contained. Lane finds himself in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by other teenagers with the incurable disease. Here he meets Sadie Bennett, with whom, after a shaky start, he develops a close relationship.

Ironically, whilst suffering from an illness that could kill him, Lane learns there is more to life than school. With his new friends: Sadie, Nick, Marina and Charlie, Lane becomes more adventurous and starts to relax and have fun whilst they wait for scientists to come up with a cure. The only trouble with this waiting game is that the odds of some of them not living long enough to see this cure is very high.

Narrated by both Lane and Sadie, Extraordinary Means is a love story with a heartbreaking ending. Readers feel for the teens as they are separated from their families and forgotten about by their friends. Unlike other potentially terminal illnesses, they cannot have support from their loved ones because of the risk of spreading the disease.

There is an underlying sadness to the novel, as the reader knows that no matter how much fun the characters have and no matter what their hopes and dreams are, the chances are something dreadful could happen. With this in mind, the story becomes much more powerful and moving as Sadie, Lane, and friends are determined to keep on going and enjoy their lives on a day-to-day basis.

Schneider is an excellent writer who has created a contemporary romance with a unique setting. The imagination involved with tuberculosis could almost describe the novel as dystopian, minus the science fiction aspect. Extraordinary Means is the perfect novel for young adult fans, but a warning: it could break your heart!

Dreamland
Author: Robert L. Anderson
Published: 22nd September 2015
Goodreads Rating: 3.53 out of 5
Reviewed: July 2015

“Dreams come true. So do nightmares.” Dea Donahue has spent her entire life travelling from one state to another, starting school after school and walking other people’s dreams to survive. Dea, like her mother, is a dream walker, but she must keep this a secret from everyone else. She must follow the rules: do not walk a person’s dream more than once, and do not let the dreamer see her; otherwise, the monsters will find her. Or so Dea’s eccentric mother says.

Dea’s mother is very paranoid, afraid of many things, particularly mirrors, and has a strange obsession with clocks. At any moment she may decide they need to pack up and leave, but Dea has had enough. Especially now that she has met Connor, the first boy to ever treat her nicely, the first boy she could call a friend. But when Dea’s mother goes missing, Dea needs to take a closer look at her mother’s obscure fears to track her down. At the same time, there are rumours going around suggesting that Connor may not be the nice guy Dea thinks he is.

Dreamland is both a fantasy novel and a murder mystery. It is as though Robert L. Anderson has written two different stories and then seamlessly merged them. The main narrative focuses on Dea’s predicament, but Connor’s life is constantly present underneath it. The real-life quality of the storyline makes the incidents Dea experiences all the more creepy.

Part three of the book becomes more fantasy-like, which is a little confusing, and it is difficult to see the setting in the way the author perceives it. The narrative eventually returns to the real world and progresses with Connor’s story. It is not until this point that the reader realizes that Dreamland is part murder mystery.

As a whole, Dreamland is a gripping read that is difficult to put down. Readers are plagued with questions and anticipation as they wait to discover why Dea can dream walk, the significance of the mirrors and clocks, and what happened to Dea’s mother. Once these are resolved, a whole bunch of new questions crop up.

The ending is mostly satisfying, although it is not completely clear what happens next. Although the reader knows where Dea and Connor both end up, it is up to the reader to interpret what their lives are like once the story ends. Yet, Dreamland is a worthy young adult book to read. It is different to other novels in the genre and brings a whole new concept to the table. 


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5 Book Reviews

Broken Realms
Author: D. W. Moneypenny
Published: 28th April 2014
ISBN13: 9780996076418
Goodreads Rating: 3.67 out of 5
Reviewed: August 2014

Broken Realms is a brilliant science fiction novel and the first instalment of The Chronicles of Mara Lantern by D. W. Moneypenny. Set in present-day Oregon, it deals with metaphysical ideas and bizarre creatures – a very intriguing read.

Mara Lantern is a young adult who has left school to work in a gadget repair shop, where her natural talent for restoring machinery is put to good use. At the commencement of the book, she is being driven to the airport by her New Age-obsessed mother in order to fly out to San Francisco to visit her father. Once the plane is airborne, it is clear there is something terribly wrong. Bright blue light flashes throughout the aircraft and the passengers around Mara appear to be distorting: growing fangs and snouts and changing eye colour. What is even stranger is a redheaded boy is running down the aisle, closely pursued by a clone of Mara.

In an attempt at an emergency landing, the plane crashes into the Columbia River – a crash impossible to survive – but everyone does. All the passengers and crew are pulled out of the river unharmed, all except Mara, who is found unconscious on the pavement with a head wound.

Detective Daniel Bohannon is assigned to the case to investigate the cause of the crash, but when some of the survivors start displaying super-human or animalistic traits, it becomes clear this is no ordinary situation.

Whilst the investigation continues, Mara begins to deal with what she saw on the plane. With the help of a fellow survivor, Ping, and the redheaded boy, Sam (who claims he is her brother), she begins to learn that her world, her life and human existence, in general, is not all she believed it to be.

Although Broken Realms is accurately described as a science fiction and fantasy novel, there were times, particularly during the police investigations, when it also felt a little like a crime thriller. There is nothing particularly bad about that, but to begin with, it was as though two different genres were competing with each other depending on which character’s point of view was being read.

What helped to make this book so great were the excellent writing skills of D. W. Moneypenny. It was written so clearly that vivid images came to mind whilst reading. The pace of the narrative was quick, and at no point did it stop being exciting.

Another good thing (admittedly others may not see it as such) was that there were no romantic attachments between the characters to detract from the main storyline. This meant the novel was completely focused on the plot without unnecessary interruptions.

Broken Realms is a highly recommended book for science fiction and fantasy lovers. It leaves the reader wanting to know what is going to happen next. So now the wait for the next book in The Chronicles of Mara Lantern begins.

The 100
Author: Kass Morgan
Published: 3rd September 2013
ISBN13: 9780316234511
Goodreads Rating: 3.57 out of 5
Reviewed: August 2014

The recently televised novel The 100 by Kass Morgan is the first in a unique dystopian series set centuries into the future. Cataclysmic nuclear and biological wars rendered Earth uninhabitable, forcing humans to create a new life in space on a large ship. Three hundred years later, scientists judge that the harmful radiation that destroyed Earth may have reduced or even completely disappeared, meaning that the planet would finally be safe for humans. To test this theory, the Colony sends one hundred adolescent lawbreakers with the mission to begin to recolonize Earth.

The novel is told from the point of view of four characters: Clarke, Wells, Bellamy and Glass. The first three are on the drop ship to Earth, but Glass escapes at the very last second and remains behind. Although there may be a hundred people on this mission, none of them has any idea what to expect or how to live on a planet. It does not help matters when the drop ship crash lands, leaving them, particularly Clarke, the only one with medical knowledge, in an even more difficult situation than they were anticipating. Meanwhile, back on the ship, Glass discovers that human life may be in as much danger there as it would be on Earth.

Each character has flashbacks to their life on the ship, which gradually reveals the events leading up to them being convicted as criminals and thus sent to their new lives or even possible deaths. Due to this, there was less action set on Earth than there could have been – there was not enough time for a Lord of the Flies situation to arise. Yet, it was fascinating to imagine their reaction to the first time they saw the sunset or felt the rain, being mesmerized by bird songs and enjoying their first-ever piece of meat.

As with most young adult novels, there is the inevitable romance theme consisting of conflicting feelings and love triangles. The overall situation some of the main characters found themselves in was due to actions they committed in the name of love. Sometimes this theme could get a little annoying and hinder the dystopian side of the story, but it would not have been able to function without these elements.

Kass Morgan concludes The 100 at the peak of the climax, leaving us desperately wanting to find out what happens next. This is a highly recommended book for young adult readers who love science fiction.

The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Published: 26th April 1993
ISBN13: 9780385732550
Goodreads Rating: 4.13 out of 5
Reviewed: October 2014

It has been over twenty years since Lois Lowry’s controversial children’s story The Giver was published, and it certainly deserves its status as an essential modern classic. Jonas has grown up in the perfect world of the Community whose survival relies on strict rules and rituals. Adults are assigned spouses and children (one boy and one girl) as they take up their roles within society. At the beginning of the book, Jonas is approaching the end of his eleventh year and feeling apprehensive about the Ceremony of Twelve, where he will be assigned a job for him to do for the rest of his adult life. Jonas gets selected as the Receiver of Memory – a very rare position – and begins to experience memories from humans who lived a long time ago. For Jonas, this is exciting until he begins to see the flaws in his perfect world.

Dystopian literature has become popular over the past few years, and it would not be surprising if it were The Giver that inspired these contemporary works. Lowry claims that she did not intend for The Giver to have a sinister feel about it; she was writing an adventure story and exploring the concept of the importance of memory, but it turned out to be much more thought-provoking. As the children’s novelist Margaret Mahy (The Haunting) pointed out, up until the publication of this novel in 1993, Lowry was best known for her funny stories about Anastasia Krupnik, resulting in The Giver being even more shocking and unexpected.

The Giver highlights that attempting to produce perfection can often result in the loss of good things as well as the bad. The notion of the ideal world may seem like a wonderful proposal, but in order to achieve it humans would have to do away with free choice. In ironing out the inequalities and injustices of the present world, everything becomes the same for each individual.

It is a difficult concept to grasp, particularly for a child. Although intended as a children’s series, The Giver and its following instalments are more suitable for young adults and older. The only issue with this is that the writing style was targeted at a younger audience meaning that the story is short and lacks depth. If written for older readers, there would have been the scope for it to become a much lengthier novel.

There are a lot of mixed reviews surrounding this book, although they have changed greatly since the original publication. To begin with, The Giver was banned in some areas, but the dystopian theme has become accepted in today’s society. What many people comment on now is the oversimplification of such strong ideas. Then again, as already mentioned, it needs to be emphasized that this book was aimed at children, thus the language reflects the reading skills of its target audience.

The Giver is a gem of a book that is not only enjoyable, but also educates the reader on the dangers of attempting a utopian society and why it is important to retain human memories – even the bad – in order that wisdom can exist. Those who have become fans of contemporary dystopian novels, for example, Divergent by Veronica Roth or Delirium by Lauren Oliver, will love this series.

Our Zoo
Author: June Mottershead
Published: 9th October 2014
ISBN13: 9781472226358
Goodreads Rating: 4.15 out of 5
Reviewed: October 2014

Many people in Britain may have recently watched the drama series Our Zoo on BBC1 about the Mottershead family who moved to Oakfield, Upton, in 1930 with the aim of building a zoo without bars. Based on a true story, the drama over exaggerated the difficulties the family faced in developing what became the famous Chester Zoo. Until 2010 when TV producer Adam Kemp approached her, June Mottershead had never thought about making her history available to the public. The truth had to be bent slightly for the television production with the removal of certain characters, added romance, and laws prevented chimpanzees from being filmed. So, June Mottershead has penned the true story, also called Our Zoo, which is just as fascinating as the scenes shown on screen.

June was only four when she moved to Upton with her parents, grandparents, her fourteen-year-old sister Muriel, and a selection of animals. The BBC1 drama only focused on her father, George, seeking permission to build his zoo despite the petition against it. In the book, this occurs within the first few chapters, then continues until June’s marriage to her husband Fred Williams in 1949. The period of the narrative also jumps around depending on the animals or events that June is describing.

A large chunk of the book focuses on the effect the Second World War had on the zoo. As can be expected, the rationing of vital products took its toll on the animals’ diets, and although the zoo never took a direct hit, the Liverpool blitz caused havoc by destroying the glass tanks in the aquarium. On the other hand, the number of animals rapidly grew, as it was not just humans that became refugees during the war.

It was a delight to read about June’s relationships with some of the animals, particularly Mary the chimpanzee, who was also June’s best friend as a child and behaved in a human-like manner. As well as the happy moments, there were the inevitable upsetting accounts of the deaths of some of the animals, either from old age, illness or accidents.

While Our Zoo cannot be described as a novel, it neither has the feel of an autobiography. The conversational tone of the writing made it a pleasure to read and easy to visualize the scenes. This easy-to-read book is a strong recommendation for those who enjoyed the BBC adaptation and wish to find out what happened next. It does not matter if you have not watched the drama, as it is still a fascinating story to read.

The Outcasts
Author: John Flanagan
Published: 1st March 2012
ISBN13: 9780440869924
Goodreads Rating: 4.38 out of 5
Reviewed: October 2014

The Outcasts is the first book in the Brotherband Chronicles about teenage Hal and his small team of misfit friends. Set in times when to be a warrior and be part of a crew on a wooden ship were some of the highest honours, all boys, when approaching the age of sixteen, have to endure months of exhausting training. The popular boys form Brotherbands containing the candidates with the most potential, leaving Hal and seven other social outcasts to form another group: the Herons. Despite their severe disadvantage, Hal must encourage the Herons to use their brains to outwit the strength of the other Brotherbands and defeat them at the challenges the instructors set and become the ultimate winners.

Hal is an instantly likeable character. He is talented, intelligent, kind and thoughtful, and makes an excellent and inspiring team leader. Although this book is set in a fictional historical period, there are many things that a young reader can relate to, for example, bullying and racial discrimination.

As well as the Brotherband training, there are a lot of ship and sailing references, which may appeal to male readers of a certain age. The author, John Flanagan, realises that many people today would not be familiar with the ins and outs of sailing and has included a glossary explaining numerous nautical terms used during the novel. These are defined in an easy-to-understand way, as the target audience is those aged ten and upwards.

There is a limited number of female characters, suggesting that these chronicles are written with male teenage readers in mind. Despite this, it is still an enjoyable, exciting book regardless of your gender. The character developments are excellent, and the Herons are an admirable team.

Initially, it took a while to get into the story. The reader does not meet Hal until part two of four because it begins twelve years before the main timeline. Throughout this section, the only characters are adults, to which the target audience is less likely to relate. For this reason, and due to some of the violence, I would recommend this book for ages thirteen and older rather than the “10+” suggested on the back cover.

Overall, Brotherband: The Outcasts is a brilliant book, and it was refreshing for a young adult novel not to revolve around a romantic relationship. The next book in the series promises to be as exciting as the first.


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Piet Mondrian: (A), B, C

On a recent trip to the Tate Modern, a friend and I came across a couple of paintings by the Dutch artist, Piet Mondrian (1872-1944). Without reading the accompanying title plaque, we both recognised the artist’s distinctive use of geometric shapes and colours. We learnt that these particular paintings were titled Composition B and Composition C, to which we both responded, “Where is Composition A?” Whether or not the Tate was displaying this painting (the website suggests it was) we never found it, but it made us wonder about the significance of these compositions.

With thanks to Google, I located a photograph of Mondrian’s Composition A, which conforms with his well known style, however contains significantly more colour.

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Having now seen all three of these compositions and compared them with each other, I was still none the wiser to their purpose or significance.

I wish to approach truth as closely as is possible, and therefore I abstract everything until I arrive at the fundamental quality of objects. – Mondrian

Born on 7th March 1872, Piet Mondrian, was one of the leading individuals in the establishment of abstract art. His early works were realistic representations with a delicate use of colour, however this all changed from 1907 onwards.

Mondrian was a pioneer of more than one art movement, the first significant one being Cubism. During the first world war, Mondrian was influenced by other painters of the time to stop using curved lines within his artwork. This led to the geometrical paintings Mondrian is well known for, and the development of another movement: De Stijl.

As the main face of De Stijl, Mondrian named his personal style Neo-Plasticism, a system that restricted artists to straight lines and basic colours (usually primary). During this period of time, the world was rapidly changing. The Great War provoked transformations in governments, societies, technologies and general day-to-day living. Mondrian attempted to find the undeviating reality buried beneath all the upheaval and believed that his strict, grid-like, asymmetrical paintings reflected this.

The art world may have moved on from Cubism and De Stijl, but Mondrian was a great influence on artists at the time, yet also the later industrial, decorative and advertisement art that began in the 1930s. His use of bold grids and thick black lines, encouraged designers to be more mindful of the ways artwork and typography are presented within a design. The grid structure was heavily adopted by the Swiss Typography movement, and is still used and taught today in design schools throughout the world.

Mondrian’s Compositions A, B and C, were essentially his way of coping with the destruction of the world he grew up in. By stripping back to the bare bones – black and white, primary colours – Mondrian was trying to reduce the world to its basic elements. The balance between black and white with red, blue or yellow are a representation of opposing forces that create a balance in the world, i.e. male and female, positive and negative.

Looking at the above paintings alone, you may conclude that Mondrian was an eccentric man, deliriously believing that he was accurately representing the world. However, if you study the progression from his early works to the ones he his more famous for, you will notice a gradual development of style, rather than a rapid, out-of-character change.

Whilst we will never know exactly what was going through Piet Mondrian’s head (unless we read his numerous writings), we can speculate that painting real life representations of landscapes and so forth lost the appeal after the destruction of countries as a result of war. Who would want to paint that, when instead you could focus on the true, never changing actualities at the heart of our existence?

I don’t want pictures, I want to find things out. – Mondrian

Eastward Ho!

Not long ago, I visited the Museum of London with a friend because … why not? Whilst we were discovering the history of London (from prehistoric eras to the present day), we were both drawn to a particular painting hanging on the wall in the Expanding Cities – 1670s-1850s gallery. Neither of us were familiar with the artwork, nor the artist, but the bright colours were powerful and enticed me to have a closer look.

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Eastward Ho!

The painting, I learnt, was called Eastward Ho! by a man named Henry Nelson O’Neil, and was completed in c.1857/8. A minuscule notecard was situated to the left of the frame, providing an inadequate explanation and description of the artwork:

Soldiers are shown boarding a ship at Gravesend, leaving to fight in the ‘Indian Mutiny’ – the first Indian war of Independence. They are saying their final farewells to their loved ones. This immensely colourful and vibrant painting was Henry Nelson O’Neil’s most popular work.

The basic scenario has been explained, but who was Henry Nelson O’Neil? Why did he choose to paint this particular situation? How comes, if this work was so popular, I have never heard of it, nor him?  Let’s find out. Henry Nelson O’Neil, who are you?

Henry Nelson O’Neil

Henry Nelson O’Neil was born in Russia on 7th January 1817, however he spent the majority of his life in England, where he moved with his parents in 1823. Despite his origin of birth, his parents were British nationals, therefore his brief Russian beginnings had very little impact upon his future. Nothing is known about the O’Neil family, nor his childhood, until he entered the art scene in 1836 after enrolling at the Royal Academy.

The year 1838 saw O’Neil’s first exhibited artwork on display at the academy. Simply titled The Student, this picture – sadly unknown today – sparked off his career, resulting in almost 100 of his paintings adorning the academy’s walls during his life time. O’Neil produced a new painting almost yearly, experimenting with a range of subject matter. Art historians can assume the artist was an educated and cultured individual on account of his interest in painting scenes from literature and the Bible, as well as historical incidents.

O’Neil opted for striking colours, however his compositions were often criticised as faulty. It appeared that O’Neil was averse to demonstrating negative emotion in his artwork, resulting in unrealistic contexts. A particular example is titled The Parting Cheer (1861) which showed the emigration of British and European families at a time when this would have caused heartbreak, worry and despair. However, as the title suggests, O’Neil painted a cheerful atmosphere, implying that emigration was a cause for celebration rather than a time of uncertainty.

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The Last Moments of Mozart

More popular were O’Neil’s romantic scenes, particularly ones portraying the deaths of Mozart and Raphael. The Last Moments of Mozart (1849) shows the composer, moments from death, listening to a performance of his Requiem.

O’Neil also had a go at writing, publishing Lectures on Painting delivered at the Royal Academy containing a selection of talks he gave to students at the academy. Moving away from art, O’Neil also attempted a few pieces of literature, however he supposably was not all that successful in this venture. He also had a passion for music and enjoyed playing the violin. It may be assumed that O’Neil continued working until his death on 13th March 1880. His body is interred in Kensal Green Cemetery.

Compared with other artists of the era, O’Neil does not stand out amongst the greats, and today remains virtually unknown. The most significant endeavour during his lifetime is arguably his connection to the group of artists known as The Clique.

The Clique

Formed by Richard Dadd in the late 1830s, The Clique was a group made up of an assemblage of British artists, Henry Nelson O’Neil being amongst them. Not much evidence remains of The Clique‘s existence, however it is supposed that the group met up to sketch and receive opinions on their artwork.

The Clique apparently rejected academic high art in favour of genre painting – a term associated with the celebrated William Hogarth, who was probably a great influence to the group. They believed, like Hogarth, that art should be judged by the public, not by preexisting academic ideals.

Hopefully the Museum of London will continue to display Eastward Ho! as part of the exhibition, not only because it represents a particular event in London, but because it is one of the only remaining evidences of O’Neil’s existence. Although he may not have made himself known to the world, it would be a great shame to lose all recognition in the future.