Threads

See more results

Topics

Usernames

Mumsnet Logo
Please
or
to access all these features

50 Book Challenge 2018 Part Six
999

southeastdweller · 05/06/2018 08:12

Welcome to the sixth thread of the 50 Book Challenge for this year.

The challenge is to read fifty books (or more!) in 2018, though reading fifty isn't mandatory. Any type of book can count, it’s not too late to join, and please try to let us all know your thoughts on what you've read.

The first thread of the year is here, the second one here, the third one here, the fourth one here, and the fifth one here.

How're you getting on so far?

OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

magimedi · 05/06/2018 22:20

I have not managed to keep a list or record what I have read despite very good intentions in January. Life & family health issues have got in the way.

But I do keep up with this thread from time to time & really enjoy reading about what you have all read, your critiques and recommendations & it does nudge me into reading other things.

So this is an "ashamed for not joining in" post but a thank you to all of you who do.

Will get my coat now but continue to lurk.

Please
or
to access all these features

whippetwoman · 05/06/2018 22:26

Thanks for the new thread southeastdweller. Here is my list:

  1. Zuckerman Unbound – Philip Roth
  2. Our Man in Havana – Graham Greene
  3. Women and Power – Mary Beard
  4. Between the Acts – Virginia Wolf
  5. The Gift of Rain – Tan Twan Eng
  6. Inside the Wave – Helen Dunmore
  7. Aaron’s Rod – D.H Lawrence
  8. Edgelands – Paul Farley
  9. A Song for Issy Bradley – Carys Bray
  10. Everyone Brave is Forgiven – Chris Cleave
  11. Zoology – Gillian Clarke
  12. The Mezzanine – Nicholson Baker
  13. Turtles All the Way Down – John Green
  14. The Dark Flood Rises – Margaret Drabble
  15. Midwinter – Fiona Melrose
  16. The Stranger in the Woods – Michael Finkel
  17. Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor
  18. Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney
  19. The History of Mr Polly – H.G Wells
  20. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
  21. Eleanor Oliphant – Gail Honeyman
  22. Closely Watched Trains – Bohumil Hrabal
  23. Winter Holiday – Arthur Ransome
  24. Book of Clouds – Chloe Aridjis
  25. Red Rising – Pierce Brown
  26. Love, Hate and Other Filters – Samira Ahmed
    27 The Cutting Season – Attica Locke
    28 The Party – Elizabeth Day
    29 The Melody – Jim Crace
    30 The Opposite of Loneliness – Marina Keegan
    31 The Dry – Jane Harper
    32 Sight – Jessie Greengrass
    33 Hillbilly Elegy – J.D Vance
    34 Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels
    35 Exit West – Moshin Hamid
    36 Anything is Possible – Elizabeth Strout
    37 Sweet Days of Discipline – Fleur Jaeggy
    38 In the Blue Hour – Elizabeth Hall
    39 Dis Mem Ber – Joyce Carol Oates
    40 The Aspern Papers/The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
    41 Anecdotal Evidence – Wendy Cope
    42 The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne
    43 The Idiot - Elif Batuman
    44 The Word for Woman is Wilderness – Abi Andrews
    45 Nightwalk – Chris Yates
    46 The Argonauts – Maggie Nelson
    47 Things That Are – Amy Leach
    48 In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
    49 A Line Made by Walking – Sara Baume
    50 How to Get Into the Twin Palms – Karolina Waclawiak
    51 The Go-Between – L.P Hartley
    52 Orfeo – Richard Powers
    53 Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris
Please
or
to access all these features

whippetwoman · 05/06/2018 22:27

Gosh, sorry about the numbers! I should probably go to bed now I think!

Please
or
to access all these features

danadas · 05/06/2018 23:47

Thanks again for all the reviews which has pretty much helped inform my reading list (along with Kindle 99p offer and The Works 3 for £5 on Crime/Thriller paperbacks!!

My list so far,

  1. Then She Was Gone - Lisa Jewell
  2. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
  3. Class Murder - Russell Leigh
  4. Cold Sacrifice - Russell Leigh
  5. The Witchfinder's Sister - Beth Underdown
  6. Friend Request - Laura Marshall
  7. Persons, Unknown - Susie Steiner
  8. Kate Moretti - The Vanishing Year
  9. The Crossing Places - Elly Griffiths
  10. Together - Julie Cohen
  11. The Accident - Dawn Goodwin
  12. Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng
  13. If you Knew Her - Emily Elgar
  14. He Said/She Said - Erin Kelly
  15. The Perfect Neighbours - Rachel Sergeant
  16. Home Fire - Kamila Shamsie
  17. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
  18. Don't Trust Me - Joss Stirling
Please
or
to access all these features

Ellisisland · 06/06/2018 08:23

Will have to add that one Sadik , I have the Good Friday Agreement by Siobhan Fenton on my wish list as well, after having read some good reviews.

Please
or
to access all these features

Cedar03 · 06/06/2018 11:50

Thank you for the new thread! I missed half the last one as I haven't been well but was able to keep reading so have books to update.

26. Letters of Note by Shaun Usher
This is a collection of letters written by various people - some famous/historical, some are more quirky. They range from fragments written on ancient reeds to a letter from the Queen with a recipe to fan letters/replies received. They are a very interesting mix - some heart breaking, some are funny. It includes the seed pod on which John F Kennedy scraped a message telling that he and others had survived but were stranded on an island in the South Pacific during World War 2 that was carried by local boatmen onto another island so that ultimately they were rescued. There is also a description of a woman who underwent surgery to remove a breast lump without the aid of anaesthetic and happily survived. I've been dipping into them for some months and very much enjoyed it.

27 The Children who lived in a Barn by Eleanor Graham
Strictly speaking this is a children's book which I don't normally count. However, it has been republished by Persephone books and is in the adult section of my local library. I borrowed it because I remembered having a copy when I was a child. It was interesting to read with an adult perspective. 5 children live in a small village. Their parents are called away very suddenly (so suddenly it takes them about 2 minutes from receiving a telegram to have booked flights and left which is pretty good going for the mid 1930s) and leave the children on their own. Parents are then lost in plane crash and children are kicked out of their house by nasty landlord. They end up living in a barn. Interesting to see the tensions between the working class villagers and the slightly more well to do people who try to interfere not just with the children but with the villagers and how they live. Two eldest children - boy and girl - fall into stereotypical roles as I suppose was inevitable. They all have to work hard to survive and although there is money they are not allowed to have very much of it. Entertaining re-read.

28 The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon
A man falls near a bridge in Venice and suffers catastrophic brain damage. Did he fall or was he pushed and why? Enjoyed this one, there was a bit more to the story than the last one of hers that I read. I always enjoy the descriptions of food and family life.

Please
or
to access all these features

bibliomania · 06/06/2018 13:18

Updating with holiday reading. Most of it was faintly disappointing - I don't know if that's down to the Kindle format. I find it harder to warm to books on Kindle. Meant considerably lighter luggage though.

65. Meddling Kids, Edgar Cantero.
The Scooby Doo kids (or a thinly disguised version thereof) have grown up and are drawn back to reinvestigate their last mystery. Turns out it was powerful supernatural forces after all. I rather liked the concept, but got a bit tired of the execution - lots of cartoon chases and fights, all a bit tedious
. The author was a bit too creative with his use of English - characters variously chin-nod, thesaurisize etc.

66. Dear Mrs Bird, A J Pearce
Set during the Blitz. Young female narrator is very perky and Capitalises Words to be jolly. Gets a job as a secretary working on a magazine's problem page. Feels those who write in deserve better answers, so takes matters into her own hands. Learns life lessons as tragedy strikes close to home. Hmm. It went down easily enough, but I found it to be a bit sentimental and ersatz. It condescends to the past - they should all have talked about their feelings instead of being so Stiff Upper Lip.

67. Mrs Bridge, Evan S. Connell
Apparently this is a minor American classic, published in the 1950s, consisting of short vignettes of an upper middle class woman who gets married and has children but somehow never really lives her life or makes any profound connections with anyone. The very short chapters keep it moving along briskly enough, but overall it was a bit bleak and one-note.

68. The Singing Sands, Josephine Tey
Golden age crime fiction. It's a shaggy dog story, really, with a good 70% of it nothing to do with the main plot, which feels awkwardly tacked on and happens nearly all off-stage. But the meandering account of a Highlands holiday is good fun all the same, and I did enjoy it.

69. The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Jill Lepore
A non-fiction account of the creator of Wonder Woman and his inspiration. He was also the inventor of the lie detector test, and a man of complicated domestic arrangements (he had children by two women, and they all lived in the same household). The author can't make up her mind whether to be prurient about all the bondage (women forever being tied up/chained in the comic strip) or respectful of the connections to early twentieth century women's rights movement, so her tone swings about uneasily and it's hard to know what to make of it all. Too much detail, too many names to remember, but interesting in spots.

70. Strong Poison, Dorothy Sayers
Can't imagine the evidence standing up in a modern courtroom (obtained partly through fake séance) but good fun.

71. August is a Wicked Month, Edna O'Brien
Mentioned on the last thread. Woman is childfree as her son goes on holiday with her ex-husband, so decides to go on holiday to the South of France in search of debauchery. This took a darker turn than I expected, one that would sit quite nicely in a Victorian melodrama such as East Lynne. I thought it was vivid, but not the jolly holiday read I was expecting.

Back home, Kindle put aside and on the hard stuff again (library hardbacks). Currently reading Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott, also recommended on the previous thread, and enjoying it. It's a very English fantasia (I meant this as a compliment) - outsider recruited as teacher in town with mysterious history, never to be spoken of. Deeply-buried secrets are about to be uncovered, I sense. Vivid world-building and good fun.

Please
or
to access all these features

DesdemonasHandkerchief · 06/06/2018 14:16

My list so far. I've already read more this year to date than I did in the whole of 2017, a combination of 50 Bookers inspiration, some shorter books and embracing Audible!
Highlights in bold, ones that didn't float my boat in italics:

  1. Our Endless Numbered Days
    2. The Universe versus Alex Woods
    3. Skellig
    4. A Monster Calls
    5. Skeleton Crew
    6. Wolf Hall
    7. Gallows Pole
    8. 84 Charing Cross Road
    9. The Duchess Of Bloomsbury Street
    10. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
    11. Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day
    12. Burial Rites
    13. The Martian
    14. The Durrells Of Corfu
    15. Dunstan
    16. Wonder
    17. Nelly Dean (Audible)
    18. The Light Between Oceans
    19. When I Hit You
    20. The North Water
    21. The Colour Of Water - James McBride (Audible)
    22. Educated (Audible)
    23. Lillian Boxfish Goes For A Walk (Audible)
    24. Reader I Married Him
    25. A Very English Scandal

    And to add to the above;
    26. Exposure^^ (Audible BorrowBox) Helen Dunmore. Set in 1960 London this is the story of a couple who become embroiled in espionage and the fall out of long held secrets. The Audible narrator was a bit irritating and the pace was too slow to really grip but I like Dunmore's writing style.

    27. The Husbands Secret (Audible) free from BorrowBox, struggling to find something that is both available and appealing on BorrowBox, and as I enjoyed the TV series of Big Little Lies I thought this might be worth listening to. Unfortunately not. Absolute tosh, full of people making bad decisions to drive the plot forward. Not sure if the 'Secret' was meant to be a big reveal but it certainly didn't take Sherlock Holmes to work it out.

    Now reading 28. All Quiet On The Western Front on Kindle and listening to 29.Rebecca on Audible.
Please
or
to access all these features

TooExtraImmatureCheddar · 06/06/2018 15:51

Checking into the new thread!

I am hopeless at collating my list and have given up. I just Ctrl + F for my last post and check which number I was up to.

78. A Ready-Made Family, Antonia Forest

Lucky Ebay purchase - eldest sister Kay comes home abruptly and announces that not only is she dropping out of Oxford to get married, he's a divorced man with three children, whose ex-wife died in a plane crash last month, and they have nowhere to live so can they move into the family home, and, to top it all off, she had to beg and persuade him to marry her. This feels a little bit like Forest was drawing up a checklist of undesirable traits to create the worst possible man for Kay to marry. There's a lot in this about fractured relationships - stepchildren, new in-laws, boundaries, responsibility, ethics, and children (almost all the children, including Kay) growing up and developing new maturity of understanding in their different ways. I didn't like the conclusion, though - the Relationships board would have been telling Kay to run a mile from the beginning, never mind after his actions towards Peter!

79. Attic Term, Antonia Forest.

A gift from the lovely Tanaqui - this was not at all how I thought the story went! From isolated comments people have made on various AF threads, I thought Nicola got expelled in some sort of falling-on-her-sword way! Not really sure where I got that idea from, but the actual story is very different. I was shocked by Patrick's reference to paying for sex, and drugs come into it too (references to pot seem oddly prim). I also have zero idea of the changes to the Catholic mass, and I do wonder how well-versed Forest's original readers would have been. However, I got the gist that it had essentially gone to a much more touchy-feely modern accessible mass, which stern traditionalists loathed. So! We have a lot about values in this book. Personal values (cf Ginty v Patrick), professional values (contrast between various mistresses - the laissez-faire attitude of one v the hyper-alert distrust showed by another), religious values - Patrick, his father, Nicola's response, Patrick's mother, Patrick's school etc, sexual values (Patrick/Claudie). There are probably more that I'm not thinking of right now. We also have Nicola and her peers developing a lot - they start to take actions on their own that they believe are right. Ginty, on the other hand, fails to act according to the values of her community. She has to ask Nicola to break rules for her to phone her friend's mother. She sneaks around to phone her boyfriend - breaking all the rules of good schoolgirl fiction. Patrick doesn't trust her integrity. The symbolism of the attic - Sara Crewe or What Happened at Miss Minchin's - links in here to the theme of living up to one's values. Sara Crewe is of course the first version of A Little Princess [side boast: I have a dark green hardback copy of Sara Crewe and Editha's Burglar with gilt letters discovered in a secondhand bookshop a few years back] and the main theme of A Little Princess is the importance of living up to one's values no matter what one's personal circumstances are. One can be a princess in rags and tatters, after all. So the very name of the attic, which is ostensibly named only after the fact that Sara had to go and live in the attic, is a hint to the reader about the tenets of the book. I was surprised that Forest went for the more obscure title, and I've just checked and A Little Princess was first published in book format in 1905, so I can't see any reason to go for the older title. I'm rambling here - I just wanted to add that I love the girly elements of discovering which dresses suited whom - which you could tie to people learning more about themselves and what they suit/value as they grow older too. Oh, and I'm not sure where I stand on Team Ginty v Team Nicola - I think Nicola should go out on her own and become the first female admiral or something like that, not settle for Patrick. I've not quite forgiven Patrick for dropping Nicola in favour of Ginty and for not even noticing he'd nearly landed on her when she falls off hunting in Peter's Room.

Please
or
to access all these features

TooExtraImmatureCheddar · 06/06/2018 16:03

  1. Thornyhold, Mary Stewart

    I used to love this book. Maybe I'm getting jaded in my old age, but I really really did not love it this time around. Magical realism - Gilly has a godmother who can see the future. Gilly inherits her godmother's house and her mantle as a local witch. She also falls foul of a plump lower-class hedgewitch who wears the wrong colour of lipstick and has cheap taste in slippers. Enter a homme fatale that both women are in love with and it all gets terribly silly. It's pitched as a bucolic comedy but it just irritated me.
Please
or
to access all these features

TooExtraImmatureCheddar · 06/06/2018 16:27

Catching up very late with the conversation about towering to be read piles - I have a stack of books on my windowsill to read, a further pile inherited from a friend who is moving house, and I've just come back from my sister's with about 4 more, including Burial Rites. I also have at least 6 on my Kindle waiting to be read.

Please
or
to access all these features

Dottierichardson · 06/06/2018 16:31

Satsuki thanks for the observations, The Go-between is back on the pile!

Toomuch what a brilliant review of Forest, really enjoyed your comments.

This is my list so far:

  1. Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett
  2. Hotel by Joanna Walsh.
  3. Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
  4. Rise Up Women by Diane Atkinson
  5. Dog is My Co-pilot
  6. Art, Sex, Music by Cosey Fanni Tutti
  7. White Girls by Hilton Als
  8. Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra
  9. Ingrid Caven by Jean-Jacques Schuhl
  10. History by Elsa Morante
  11. Lost Japan by Alex Kerr
  12. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: an American lyric by Claudia Rankine
  13. Crewe Train by Rose Macauley
  14. Territory of Light by Yoko Tshushima
  15. Carrington’s Letters edited by Anne Chisholm
  16. Insel by Mina Loy
  17. The Farm in the Green Mountains by Alice Hurdan-Zuckmeye
  18. Molesworth by Geoffrey Willins and Ronald Searle
  19. Miss Mole by E.H. Young
  20. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
  21. Kudos by Rachel Cusk
  22. Eliza by Barry Pain
  23. Gigli by Irmgard Keun
  24. Grand Hotel by Vicki Baum
  25. Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics during World War II by F.J. Griffin
  26. The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan
  27. The Europeans by Henry James
  28. Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing by Lara Feigel

    Got side-tracked by ‘moving images’ and attempts at books that had to abandon, just finished Zinzi Clemmons’s novel, review when time.
Please
or
to access all these features

Dottierichardson · 06/06/2018 16:32

Or Tooextra even, sorry doing three things at once.

Please
or
to access all these features

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie · 06/06/2018 17:12

Sadik Adding The Troubles to my 'Want to read that' list (but when it comes down in £££).

Does anybody like Douglas Coupland? Life After God is 99p on Kindle, and I think that one is his best. I didn't think later books lived up to his earlier promise, but I still hope that one day he will write the perfect novel - imho, he comes close to it in this one and in Girlfriend in a Coma.

Please
or
to access all these features

Sadik · 06/06/2018 17:27

Hopefully it'll be cheap again - I got it on the 99p deal of the day a little while ago, just after seeing it reviewed on another thread on here, very conveniently.

Please
or
to access all these features

RemusLupinsBiggestGroupie · 06/06/2018 17:48

So cross with myself for missing it!

Please
or
to access all these features

Dottierichardson · 06/06/2018 17:49

All of this makes me feel better about not having a kindle or an Audible subscription, I'm strictly old-school, print all the way.

Please
or
to access all these features

ScribblyGum · 06/06/2018 18:10

Thanks for the new list south.

Here is my list, without numbers as pages the little irksome bastard won’t let me copy the numbers. I do not understand why.


The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward
Holding by Graham Norton
Restoration by Rose Tremain
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Dave Gorman vs The Rest of the World by Dave Gorman
Over the Moon by Imtiaz Dharker
Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar
Educating Rita by Willy Russell
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
The Prince's Chambermaid by Sharon Kendrick
Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Under the Skin by Michel Faber
Sugar Money by Jane Harris
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
True Grit by Charles Portis
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales by Theresa Breslin
The Encyclopaedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
Electra by Sophocles
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
The Guns of Navarone by Alistair Maclean
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Skin and Other Stories by Roald Dahl
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
The Last Days of Troy by Simon Armitage
Tangerine by Christine Mangan
A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre
A Very English Scandal by John Preston
A Darker Shade of Magic by V E Schwab
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
Circe by Madeline Miller
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
The Unseen World by Liz Moore

53. The Secret Barrister. Stories of the Law and How It's Broken by The Secret Barrister
(Audiobook narrated by Jack Hawkins)
Thanks again to Sadik for the recommendation. Fascinating and horrifying. The anonymous author does an excellent job of explaining how the criminal justice system in England and Wales works, and how it has become utterly buggered by cuts, government twattery, media lies and a general complacency by the public induced by a“well it will never happen to me” attitude. Excellent narration made this a compelling listen.

Please
or
to access all these features

HoundOfTheBasketballs · 06/06/2018 19:47

Thanks for the new thread southeast. I'm just marking my place and will bring my list across when I finish my current read.

Please
or
to access all these features

Terpsichore · 06/06/2018 20:39

I really fancy reading The Secret Barrister now, but according to my local library, the e-book won't be available till October Confused

(Does anyone techy know why Overdrive seems to have disappeared and BookBox has taken over for online library loans, btw? What have I missed?)

Please
or
to access all these features

Sadik · 06/06/2018 21:01

46 Wanted, a Gentleman, by KJ Charles
Theodore Swann runs a lonely hearts gazette, and writes Mrs-Radcliffe-esq romance novels to make a little extra money on the side. Martin St Vincent is a merchant and freed slave, who is trying to track down an eloping heiress and her suitor. Together, the pair end up pursuing the fleeing couple to Scotland. Funny & sweet little romantic novella, just the thing to make a change from the Troubles.

Please
or
to access all these features

Dottierichardson · 06/06/2018 21:42

29 What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
Zinzi Clemmons has been hailed as a young writer to ‘watch’ and this is her debut novel. A number of reviews highlight her ‘experimental’ approach to writing so I expected this to be a demanding read. It turns out it wasn’t. Clemmons plays with structure, inserts other non-narrative texts – images, blog entries, endnotes, graphs – and shifts between registers at various points in the novel, but not in ways I found difficult to follow/decipher.

Her main character is a young, black woman Thandi, and everything in the book is filtered through her experience. Thandi is living with the trauma of her mother’s death and the novel charts Thandi’s grief. However, this isn’t represented in a conventional narrative form. Thandi’s memories are intermingled with episodes from her life, disrupting the linear progression of the story and echoing the disruption of grieving: I found the inclusion of other visual and verbal texts intensified this sense of dislocation. I thought the material selected worked to illustrate Thandi’s state of mind, her thoughts, her associations: the blog extracts something she may have read online provoking ideas about her mother’s family in South Africa. This approach also permitted a wider exploration of issues around race, identity, politics and belonging.

There was a lot I liked about this novel, such as the way Thandi’s feelings and observations are presented: not solely personal but related to broader ideas/beliefs informed by the character’s politics and philosophy background. And, for me, the seemingly disparate elements came together like a collage, creating an image of Thandi’s mourning. I also thought Clemmons was effective in her portrayal of the complicated, ‘untidiness’ of loss: my own experience of grief is that it’s precisely not linear, it surfaces and resurfaces in myriad ways, small inconsequential things triggering sudden, unexpected ideas or emotions.

However, I found some aspects of the novel overly academic’ -comments on the sublime for example - so that the influence of the writer’s critical theory background was only too apparent. I didn’t feel that the ‘experimental’ style always came off, the structure distanced me as a reader, and lessened the impact of more ‘emotional’ passages. There were times, too, when I was puzzled by Clemmons’s choices. The text includes a range of photographs, credited with dates and copyright holders but not named. I recognised them so that wasn’t an issue and most were anchored by the surrounding paragraphs. However, on pg. 32 is a woman’s image with one elliptical sentence opposite, it’s a double-page spread which gives a lot of weight to its inclusion. It’s a head-and-shoulders shot, so no clues to the context and it’s not referred to anywhere in the novel; it’s from a well-known but not iconic film and it carries a lot of meaning in the context of this section. If you know the image it references issues of ‘passing’, ‘seeing and being’, as well as relationships between mothers and daughters and the death of a mother. In addition, it’s from a film that has a controversial status in debates around race and representation. So, it seemed to me odd, and annoying, that readers unfamiliar with the image would be excluded from the discussions it evokes. I haven't named it, as I suppose that might count as a spoiler?

So, would I recommend this book? I found it frustrating and rewarding in turn. I felt it was very much a ‘first’ novel. It's experimental, but in a very 'polite' way, so not particularly challenging. The issues it raises are important ones but I felt Clemmons was trying to pack too much into one book – loss, identity, South African history/politics, gender relations and so on... However, I will look out for her next one.

Please
or
to access all these features

Piggywaspushed · 06/06/2018 21:52

I'm labouring a bit with Circe at the mo scribbly. Partly a back to school slow down but partly I find her style very dense and get held up not knowing how to pronounce things (mostly the island!). But I have got to the bit about the minotaur birth! Grim.

I didn't realise until after I bought it that she was The Song of Achilles author and that is one book I really could not finish.

Please
or
to access all these features

ScribblyGum · 06/06/2018 23:43

Nooooooo. Circe currently duelling with Rachel (my cousin) for my favourite book of the year. Have you got the physical book? I got it out at book club tonight and one person ordered it immediately purely on the strength of the beautiful cover (well, and she'd loved Song of Achilles). Minotaur scene was very grim, yes.

Please
or
to access all these features

Tanaqui · 07/06/2018 07:53

Thank you for the new thread South.

Dottie, thanks for the Ngaio Marsh rec- luckily I have been able to get them all from the library so far, via Overdrive!

Cedar, I loved The Childreb Who Lived in a Barn- the straw oven! The day susan takes off! The guilt trip the little one is given over cake!

Cheddar I am so glad it arrived and you liked it - and what a lovely review, it made me want to reread.

50) Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella. Not the most impressive book for my 50th, but I really enjoyed this- kept me engrossed on a train ride and in an airport, nice bit of light hearted chick lit.

Please
or
to access all these features
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.