Random Thoughts: European Book Tour

Political map of Europe from vidiani.com

I’ve been perusing my stack of books that I have yet to read, and have decided that I’m going on another book trip. I enjoyed “holidaying” over the summer via the books I’d bought on recent holidays. As it’s unlikely that I’ll get to Europe for a while (thanks pandemic, thanks Brexit), I thought I’d knock a few titles off the stack that are by European authors and head off on a virtual tour of the continent.

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Six Degrees of Separation: From The Bass Rock to The Lowland

Hello June, here so soon. I’m a day late for this month’s Six Degrees of Separation because summer arrived in Manchester this week and yesterday was too glorious to pass up the chance to read in the garden. Kate, who hosts the meme at Books Are My Favourite and Best, has chosen the Stella Prize winning book The Bass Rock for the first book in the chain.

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The Trick to Time

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Read 08/05/2018-12/05/2018

Rating: 3 stars

I loved Kit de Waal’s debut novel, My Name is Leon, so when I heard that she had her second book out and it was on the longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, I slung in a library reservation. I had a bit of a wait. Lots of people wanted to read it before me. Were we all justified in our anticipation? Continue reading

Nora Webster

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Read 12/04/2017-15/04/2017

Rating: 2.5 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room March Madness Challenge

I didn’t enjoy this book. I was looking forward to it, because I’d enjoyed Brooklyn and Nora Webster is set in the same town, Enniscorthy, that Elly Lacey leaves for Brooklyn. I had no patience with the title character in this companion piece.

There was something lackluster about the writing, almost as though Tóibín was too familiar with the characters and setting, and couldn’t be bothered injecting any passion into the narrative. It felt too safe, steadily going along, describing one woman’s life in the aftermath of her husband’s death. I found my mind wandering as I read. Continue reading

The Giant, O’Brien

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Read 02/03/2017-04/03/2017

Rating: 3 stars

The Giant, O’Brien is Hilary Mantel’s reimagining of the story of Charles Byrne, an 8-foot tall Irishman who travels to London to seek fame and fortune but ends up becoming the quarry of John Hunter, the doctor whose collection of medical curiosities, accumulated under the aegis of promoting the development of scientific knowledge, form the basis of the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. Continue reading

The Miracle Shed

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Read 14/02/2017-19/02/2017

Rating: 3 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Winter Challenge.

My husband bought me this book, before I became his wife. He had read it and liked it, and wanted to share it with me. I didn’t get around to reading it at the time. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because there are always other books making their way to the crest of my book pile, pushing short story collections further down.

MacCann was apparently one to watch when this, his debut work, came out. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t published any other books. He’s been more focused on journalism. I read an article he wrote about being an alumnus of Malcolm Bradbury’s Creative Writing course at UEA. MacCann doesn’t seem to be a satisfied customer.

This collection of stories is filled with outsiders, people who internalise their dissatisfaction with life, or who try to numb it in some way. They are almost abstract as characters. MacCann plunges you straight into the heart of a story, without context or exposition. I felt like a voyeur, given a glimpse of these characters’ lives through a crack in a door, or a moment’s eavesdropping on a conversation. Continue reading

The Glorious Heresies

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Read 05/01/2017-08/01/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Lisa McInerney won the Bailey’s Prize last year with this, her debut novel. I liked the reviews I read on other bookish blogs, so it went high up on my to read list.

It had a slow start. It felt a little so-so, a little studied at first. I didn’t much care for Ryan and his girlfriend Karine, or Jimmy and his mum Maureen, or Ryan’s dad Tony, when they were first introduced.

Georgie, though, was another matter. Continue reading