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.