The Library of Unrequited Love

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Read 05/10/2016

Rating: 2 stars

I picked this up thanks to the great review on Brontë’s Page Turners. Brontë’s reflections on the book and the librarians she has known piqued my curiosity.

It’s a confusing book, in that it had me despising and then agreeing with the central character as though I were an indecisive fool easily swayed by specious argument. Continue reading

Shrinking Violets

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Read 11/09/2016-18/09/2016

Rating: 4 stars

LibraryThing review

Shrinking Violets: A Field Guide to Shyness is what it says: a guide to what makes people shy and why shyness causes certain behaviours. It’s part sociology, part social history, part psychology.

I came to this book via a review on The Guardian, which name checks a whole bunch of people whose work I admire. Continue reading

Bonjour Tristesse

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Read 30/08/2016-31/08/2016

Rating: 4 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Olympic Challenge

The cover of this translation of Françoise Sagan’s classic coming of age tale has a quote that calls it thoroughly immoral. The back of the book tells me that it scandalised 1950s France with the main character’s rejection of conventional notions of love.

What was love like in 1950s France, then? What’s immoral about finding pleasure in desire and enjoyment in sex?

Continue reading

Between the World and Me

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Read 20/07/2016-21/07/2016

Rating: 4 stars

This was a compelling read that hooked me in and made me concentrate. Coates’s logic is lucid, his argument articulate. His analysis of his own experience as a black man and a full history of black experience since slavery began amplified things that I, in my whiteness, think about how black people are treated.

It starts with an incredible declaration. Continue reading

The Marriage Plot

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Read 16/07/2016-19/07/2016

Rating: 4 stars

This book was a delight. The prose fizzed with exuberance. Experiencing Madeleine’s college life, her friendships, her romantic trysts, her wrestling with what to study and why, was like experiencing university again. Madeleine the character as Proustian cake.

Madeleine is confident and secure in her privileged background. She’s a loved daughter. She’s also somehow confident in her parochialism when moving among the aesthetes and pseuds. I warmed to her. She is sarcastic and engaged at the same time as being rudderless. For the first half of the book, she breaks her own rules and changes her perception of herself. She is trying to find out who she is and what she wants. Does she sacrifice herself on the altar of her great love for Leonard? Is that love as great as she thinks it is? Continue reading

City of Strangers

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Read 24/06/2016-26/06/2016

Rating: 4 stars

LibraryThing review

I picked this up off the New Books shelf at my local library. The blurb on the back sounded really interesting, and there’s an advert on the last page for the author Louise Millar’s collective of female crime writers.

As soon as I started it, I was gripped. Main character Grace Scott is a photo journalist based in Edinburgh. She returns home from honeymoon to find a dead man in her new flat. Recently bereaved herself, she becomes obsessed with tracking down the man’s family so that they can grieve for him. Her husband doesn’t understand her obsession and isn’t best pleased when her investigations take her from Edinburgh to London, and then on to Amsterdam and Paris.
Continue reading

Life After Life

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Read 17/05/2016-20/05/2016

Rating: 3 stars

LibraryThing review

It’s a clever device, enabling a character to have repeated goes at life, returning them each time to the start, giving them that sense of déjà vu, that sense of premonition, that enables them to dodge the previous death on the next go around until they finally get life on the right track. Continue reading

Rooftoppers

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Read 17/05/2016

Rating: 3 stars

I changed my library books today. One of the books I chose turned out to be children’s fiction mis-shelved in the adult fiction section.

Rooftoppers is a magical mix of The Silver Sword, The Summer Book and Tom’s Midnight Garden, shot through with the child-like wonder of Amélie. Continue reading

Spies, Sadists and Sorcerers: the history you weren’t taught in school

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Read 26/04/2016-30/04/2016

Rating: 3 stars

LibraryThing review

My friend is signed up as an Early Reviewer on LibraryThing. Not so long ago, she was sent Spies, Sadists and Sorcerers to review. The only problem was, she was sent the Kindle edition and she doesn’t have a Kindle.

She passed it on to me. I was quite excited at the thought, because I’ve wanted to dip my toe into LT’s Early Reviewer club, but my TBR is so huge that I didn’t dare. Now’s my opportunity. Continue reading

The Pursuit of Love

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Read 19/04/2016-21/04/2016

Rating: 4 stars

At first, I didn’t think I was going to enjoy The Pursuit of Love as much as I did Love in a Cold Climate. It seemed very frivolous and silly, even bearing in mind it’s by Nancy Mitford. Although I already knew the characters from the second book in the series, I felt they weren’t very well fleshed out at the start of this book. I think I was expecting them to be more clearly defined as characters, as this was the book in which Mitford introduces them. Continue reading