Saving Lucia

When I plucked Saving Lucia from my To Read pile, I wasn’t expecting another time travelling novel that takes imagination and rethinks reality. I also wasn’t expecting such a slim book to be so dense with ideas and feelings.

The Lucia of the title of Anna Vaught’s book is the daughter of James Joyce, incarcerated in St Andrew’s Hospital for Mental Diseases in Northampton in 1953. One of her fellow residents is the Honourable Violet Gibson, daughter of a Lord Chancellor of Ireland and famous for her attempted assassination attempt on Benito Mussolini. Violet makes it the work of her last few years to save Lucia from the pain of life in a psychiatric institution.

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A Very Normal Man

A Very Normal Man, the first book by Vincenzo Cerami, who is better known to me as the screenwriter for Roberto Benigni’s film Life Is Beautiful, follows the dark turn that civil servant Giovanni Vivaldi’s life takes when he seeks revenge on an enemy. The English title is a dull approximation of the Italian Un Borghese Piccolo Piccolo – a very small, very middle class man.

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Jolts

Jolts is a short story collection from the Argentine writer Fernando Sdrigotti. It’s a punchy collection that looks at being an émigré from somewhere and an immigrant to somewhere. Across the nine stories there is anger, frustration, a sense of being lost in spaces in between, broken up by leaving bits of yourself in the places you inhabit and move on from.

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Six Degrees of Separation: From Wintering to The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

Here we are again and already at the first Saturday in the month. July this time, and a new round of Six Degrees of Separation, hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best.

I’ve read this month’s starting book, Katherine May’s Wintering. It’s a bold choice with which to start our chains, and it took some thought for me to find a thread. I forged my chain late on Saturday night, but chose sleep over wrangling it into a post. Only a day late with that.

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Thirsty Sea

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Read 30/03/2022-04/04/2022

Rating 5 stars

I’m really pleased to have received a review copy of Erica Mou’s novel Thirsty Sea from the publisher Héloïse Press.

This is a story about love and loss, guilt and detachment, friendship and isolation. It’s beautifully written. The story is that of Maria, told over the course of 24 hours. It starts at the time of the evening meal, on the day of an uncelebrated, unacknowledged anniversary that brings Maria’s mother to Maria’s flat. Continue reading

On Literature

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Read 30/01/2022-12/02/2022

Rating 4 stars

I’ve had a library detour and a work detour, but I’m back on my European literary tour, crossing the border from Joseph Roth’s Austria to Umberto Eco’s Italy.

I’ve read five of Eco’s seven novels, from The Name of the Rose through to The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, and one of his non-fiction books, Travels in Hyperreality.

I could have chosen The Prague Cemetery for this stop on my tour, but its subject matter felt a little heavy, so I plumped for another of his non-fiction works, On Literature. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation: From Rules of Civility to Daisy Miller

It’s 2022, so a Happy New Year to you. 1 January was also the first Saturday of the month, making it time for Six Degrees of Separation, hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best.

Our starting book this month is one that I included in my January chain two years agoRules of Civility by Amor Towles. This is a book I read before I started this blog. It was recommended to me by a good friend in New York, and I loved it.

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