Lady Susan

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Read 26/10/2016-27/10/2016

Rating: 3 stars

For such a short novel, Austen packed a lot into Lady Susan. I saw this year’s film adaptation of it, Love & Friendship, so knew what the crux of the story was. Although I really liked the film, and thought Kate Beckinsale was great in the role of Lady Susan, I found the book different to the adaptation in a number of ways, and preferred the book. Continue reading

Digging Up Milton

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Read 23/10/2016-25/10/2016

Rating: 3.5 stars

Earlier this year I read Alan Bilton’s The Known and Unknown Sea for a reading challenge. I had to find an independently published book, and I came upon local publisher the Cillian Press. I enjoyed Bilton’s book enough to seek out another title from this publishing house. I chose Jennifer Wallace’s debut Digging Up Milton. Continue reading

Just Kids

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Read 11/10/2016-23/10/2016

Rating: 4 stars

I admire Patti Smith as an artist. I love her albums Horses and Easter, and her collaboration with REM on the song E-bow The Letter. I didn’t know much about her as a person, other than impressions from articles she’s written and interviews with her in the press. I had a picture of her as difficult. Reading this book has changed that picture. Continue reading

Written on the Body

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Read 06/10/2016-11/10/2016

Rating: 4 stars

I’ve never read a Jeanette Winterson novel before. I read her autobiography. I didn’t like her. I haven’t felt compelled to read any of her fiction, but a work colleague convinced me to give it a go. Written On The Body is on the 1001 Books list, so I thought why not?

I wish I hadn’t read Winterson’s autobiography. I don’t care who she is as a person, other than that it informs her fiction, her turn of phrase, the beautifully cynical outlook of her characters. I don’t want insight into where she is from, the struggles she’s had in life. I don’t want that knowledge because, for me, it diminishes her as a writer. Those whose talents we love should remain mysteries. Continue reading

Hot Milk

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Read 02/10/2016-04/10/2016

Rating: 3 stars

I’d read a couple of reviews of this book because of its longlisting for the Booker. When it was shortlisted, I decided to read it. I liked its dreamlike nature. The way Sofia retreated from reality in her role as carer to her mother. The way, in the Almerían heat, she cracked and burned until a different Sofia emerged. The way she embraced boldness and allowed herself to be set free from responsibility by the doctor she had brought her mother to see. Continue reading

Goodbye to Berlin

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Read 25/09/2016-02/10/2016

Rating: 3 stars

This is the third book from my prize Willoughby Book Club subscription. I was thrilled when I unwrapped it. I have Mr Norris Changes Trains as yet unread on my Kindle (because it appears on the list of books David Bowie thought people should read and I’m a sucker for a celebrity recommendation), but I wanted to read Goodbye to Berlin first. Which is odd, because I’m usually obsessed with reading things in order of publication. I’m a bit weird, I know.

These are stories about life in the demi-monde of Berlin in the early years of Nazi rule. It made me think of Paul Auster in the way the narrator shares the author’s name but isn’t strictly the author. It made me think of Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. It made me think of Nancy Mitford. It made me think. Continue reading