The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

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Read 04/04/2021-05/04/2021

Rating 4 stars

My most recent Six Degrees of Separation chain reminded me that a friend lent me Michel Faber’s collection of short stories The Apple. These are stories about characters from his novel The Crimson Petal and the White, “little worlds of their own”, as he says in the Foreword, that leave the mysteries at the end of the novel largely intact. Continue reading

Hamnet

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Read 04/10/2020-09/10/2020

Rating 4 stars

Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet imagines the brief life of William Shakespeare’s only son, and the impact his death aged only 11 has on his family. The novel won the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction. Continue reading

Boy Parts

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Read 11/07/2020-12/07/2020

Rating 5 stars

Book 5 in my 10 Books of Summer reading challenge, a substitution in the original list.

I find it hard to believe that Boy Parts is Eliza Clark’s debut novel. It’s confident, fiercely funny and its chattiness belies the darkness at its heart.

Not since Chuck Pahlaniuk have I felt so delighted to be entertained by the vagaries of human nature. Not since James Kelman has a writer captured so well for me the hard edge of working class play and working class survival. Not since the translation of Virginie Despante’s Vernon Subutex trilogy into English have I been so pleased to meet a character that is so grotesquely charming. Continue reading

Swing Time

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Read 11/04/2020-20/04/2020

Rating 3 stars

Zadie Smith’s Swing Time is a sprawling tale of how two girls’ lives intersect and separate over the years. It’s about growing up poor but aspirational, a tale of friendship and rivalry, and of the inadequacies of adulthood. Continue reading

Girl, Woman, Other

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Read 08/03/2020-13/03/2020

Rating 5 stars

What better reason to start reading a novel about what it means to be female in Britain today than it being International Women’s Day? I’ve wanted to read Bernardine Evaristo’s book since it won the Booker prize last year. Continue reading

How the Light Gets In

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Read 22/08/2019-26/08/2019

Rating 5 stars

Read for the 20 Books of Summer readathon.

How to describe How The Light Gets In. The prosaic description is that it’s a collection of short stories. It’s not, though. Not entirely. These are ultra short stories, fragments in many cases, brief glimpses into the lives of people on the edge of the prosaic. I found some of the stories breathtaking, literally. At times, I found myself holding my breath with the emotion of being dropped into a situation and then realising the enormity of that situation to the person experiencing it. Continue reading

Wayward Girls and Wicked Women

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Read 17/07/2019-02/08/2019

Rating 3 stars

Read as part of the 20 Books of Summer readathon.

I accidentally started Women in Translation month early with this collection of short stories. I should have known that Angela Carter would include a few women whose first language isn’t English. After all, being a woman who doesn’t conform to the artificial notion of femininity isn’t an exclusively Anglophone thing.

Carter introduces her selections as being about women who aren’t really wicked or wayward, at least not all of them. Continue reading