Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Year in Books: July reads and August plans


We are well into August and I still haven't written my Year in Books post.  I love this project started by Laura at Circle of Pine Trees as it has been a good way to find other bloggers who enjoy reading as well as many books to add to my wish list.

This month I read three books, not a lot considering I've not been at work since mid-July.   My chosen book was 'The Goldfinch' but I just didn't get to it.    I did read 'Perfect' by Rachel Joyce which was, like Harold Fry her previous bestseller, a little slow in the middle and perhaps too long but well worth it for the ending.  It has two narrative voices, one in the present and one from a child's perspective in the 1970s.  The period detail was really good as was the portrayal of the narrator's mother.  Like several other books I have read recently, such as 'The Shock of the Fall', it explores mental illness: the central character suffers from OCD.  Although it was sad, it wasn't depressing and I loved the ending.

I also read 'The Wide Sargasso Sea' by Jean Rhys.  This is one of these classic books I've been meaning to get round to for years.  I knew of the connection to 'Jane Eyre' and its status as a kind of feminist response to JE.  So I was expecting something different.  The story of Antoinette before she became Rochester's mad wife Bertha was powerful and evocative.  Rhys drew on her own experience of growing up in Dominica and it's the description of the island and the beauty that has stayed with me.  Again the narration is shared between characters - from Bertha to Rochester and on one occasion to Grace Poole who cares for Bertha in England.  I think I was expecting more reference to 'Jane Eyre' and more focus on Rochester.  Actually I felt a little sorry for him at times and don't think he is portrayed as a total villain.  I'm not that keen on him in 'Jane Eyre' anyway.  Jane herself doesn't appear in the novel, unless I missed something.  A pity as I'd have liked to hear Bertha's opinion of her as she is annoyingly prissy in my view.

I also read 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe' by Frannie Flagg, my bookclub read.  It took me a while to get my head round the huge number of characters and narrators but in the end I enjoyed it.   Others have recommended the film which was very popular when it first came out - quite a while ago.

In August I am eventually going away on holiday and have set aside 'The Goldfinch' until then. I have purchased a hardback copy with a birthday voucher and it is as heavy as a brick.  Good job we we are travelling by car and ferry.  I also have to reread 'Far from the Madding Crowd', my own 'O' Level text many years ago, as I am teaching it to an 'A' level group next term.  Don't mind really - I enjoy Hardy as the plots are always strong and at least this one has a happy ending.

14 comments:

  1. I like Hardy - I always loved Jude the Obscure.
    I'm rereading Manhattan Transfer for next term, am enjoying it trememdously.

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    1. I don't know Manhattan Transfer so will check it out. Thanks for the tip.

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  2. Interesting reads! You have reminded me about Wild Sargasso Sea, I must dig that out again and read it. I love Fanny Flagg too, and have read all her books, always such an enjoyable read. I love Hardy, but have never read Far from the Madding Crowd. Have read Tess of the D'Urbevilles many times, a great favourite, and like Isabelle I loved Jude the Obscure. Aren't books wonderful! X

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    1. And you've reminded me that I've got the title wrong! Wild Sargasso Sea. Never mind. Although Tess is a great read, I just find the ending so depressing and Angel irritates me. Same with Jude - too depressing. I am sucker for a happy ending.

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  3. Oo some interesting reads to add to my to-read list. I have wanted to read 'The Wild Sargasso Sea' for ages. Will have to order it so I can finally get around to it.

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    1. Thanks! The Year In Books is great for finding new book ideas.

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  4. I just started the Goldfinch. I was going to download the audiobook but 32 hours of listening is daunting. With the book, if I get bored or annoyed or whatever, I can skip a few lines, or read the end if I wanted to. I am pretty sure I read the Fried Green Tomatoes but cannot remember what it is about. I must search for it on my bookshelves and refresh my memory. I have also seen the film, again, with no memory for it. Strange. I am a bit scared of classics (having suffered under the regime of my harsh German literature teacher) and I wonder how to overcome this anxiety? I remember attending a scientific conference once where one talk had "far from the maddening crowd" in the title! Maybe I should try to read the book? Cx

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    1. Oh dear - that teacher has a lot to answer for. I hope I have never turned any student off reading. How about starting with 20th Century classics? My favourite is 'Room with a View'. And I reckon you'd love Dickens. 'Great Expectations' or 'Hard Times' Just skip the bits which digress form main plot too much.

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  5. Hello Doris, Good to meet you.

    Thank you for visiting my blog (Lifechimes) and leaving a comment on my August post for 'The Year in Books' link up. 'The Goldfinch' is a very interesting story and I believe you will find it very enjoyable - look forward to reading your review of it in the September link up.

    Having had some first hand experience of someone with OCD 'The Shock of the Fall' will be an interesting read for me. It's now in my 'Next to Read Collection' on my Kindle. Perhaps I'll be able to both finish 'Life After Life' and read it in time for September's review.

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    1. Hi - glad to see you here. My meandering post has confused you a little. It is 'Perfect' which focuses on OCD; 'The Shock of the Fall' explores schizophrenia among other things.

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  6. I will be putting The Goldfinch on my list, I loved Donna Tartts other books, I also enjoyed Fried Green Tomatoes, The Wild Sargasso Sea and Far from the Madding Crowd was my O level text. We seem to have a similar reading list :)

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  7. We do. I read 'The Secret History' years ago but haven't tried any other DT books. Hoping this is as good as the hype.

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  8. I love Far from the Madding Crowd - must read it again. Enjoy your holiday!

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  9. I haven't read any Donna Tartt books, I'm slightly put off by the chunkiness. Since having children I have the attention span of a fruit fly! I look forward to seeing how you get on with it.

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