Six Degrees of Separation: from Rodham to Hag-Seed

Hello September. You’ve come around quickly, and almost a week old already. That means it’s time for Six Degrees of Separation, in which Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best chooses a book and we all add six more in a chain. The concept is explained here.

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The Gap of Time

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Read 04/03/2017-05/03/2017

Rating: 3 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Winter Challenge.

I’ve never seen a performance of or read The Winter’s Tale, so I was glad of the overview Jeanette Winterson provides at the start of The Gap of Time. I could understand why Winterson, who was adopted and raised by strangers attempting to be her parents, would be fascinated by the story of a lost girl taken in and raised by a stranger, and why, given the unhappiness of her own upbringing, she would be fascinated by the story’s happy ending.

It surprised me, then, that Winterson’s cover version (her term) felt so brittle at first. There was a self-consciousness about it. This is only the second work of fiction by Winterson that I’ve read. It felt to me as though she was writing at a slight remove, as though curious herself as to what she might reveal as the story unfolded. Perhaps there was a reticence because this is a work of Shakespeare, after all. These aren’t Winterson’s own characters. And perhaps Winterson’s feeling that Shakespeare’s original is talismanic for her meant that her love for it was overshadowed by a sense of responsibility to reinterpret it well. Continue reading

Shylock Is My Name

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Read 24/04/2016-26/04/2016

Rating: 3 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room March Madness challenge.

I haven’t read The Merchant of Venice. I suppose this might have put me at a disadvantage in reading Howard Jacobson’s retelling of the play.

I’ve also not read any Howard Jacobson before. When I opened the book, I didn’t know what his style would be. I ended up enjoying it, despite initial misgivings. It’s a cheeky chappy style, but with depth. He put me in mind of Michael Frayn. I enjoyed the way he peeled away the layers of the issues with which he concerned himself in the book. Continue reading