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

The White Tiger

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Read 13/05/2016-17/05/2016

Rating: 3 stars

I picked this book up from my local library on a hit and run in the letter As. Sometimes I don’t know what I want to read, and it feels as though there are too many books but not the right ones. It happens in book shops and in libraries. I’ve developed a technique of going to a letter in the fiction section at random and pulling a book from the shelf based on whether I like the spine and whether I’ve heard of the author before. In a book shop, I’ll read the opening paragraph. If I want to carry on reading, I’ll give it a go. In the library I’m more likely to borrow it without more than a glance at the blurb on the back cover. It’s a risky strategy, but sometimes it works.

It worked in this instance. I enjoyed The White Tiger well enough. It was serious but not too serious. It was angry, but angry in a sanguine way. Continue reading

A Fine Balance

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Read 11/12/2014-29/12/2014

Rating: 5 stars

Sometimes, you think you know what there is to know about a country or a situation. You think the things you read in school, and the other things you read later in newspapers, journals, fiction and histories, have told you the truth. Then you remember that you’re a historian and unless you go back to the source, you’re only ever going to get a version of the truth from the perspective of the person telling it. Continue reading