Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Books I Have Read In June

I have been able to read a lot of books this month, thanks to daughter's GCSE revision meaning I have been under virtual house-arrest. Still, every cloud and all that. My absolute favourite read of the month was "The Age Of Miracles" a stunning debut by Karen Thompson Walker. I read this in one day, I was so gripped by this tale. The earth starts to slow on its axis and as the narrator says, "it was, at the beginning, a quite invisible catastrophe". The narrator is a young Californian girl called Julia, and her account of the strange times she finds herself in, is disturbing yet beautiful. As the world faces disaster, she faces the usual teenage troubles, friends falling out, first love, parental disharmony. However, this is all set against an impending sense of doom, as the human race faces environmental melt-down. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, it is fantastic. My teenage daughter is now reading it and thinks it is excellent too.
The Isabel Dalhousie novels by Alexander McCall Smith, are a favourite of mine, I do enjoy the gentle tales of philosopher Isabel and her life in Edinburgh. This is the eighth in the series and they are best read with a slice of Dundee cake and a nice cup of tea.
"The Captain's Daughter" by Leah Fleming isn't my usual sort of read, but it was going cheap on whilst I was buying some other books so I thought I'd give it a whirl. It is a story of two women who are caught up in the Titanic disaster and how their lives become inter-twined. It was an easy read, the chapters were short, and I did care about the characters and wanted to see how it would all end. It was a bit cheesy, however, and the ending was no surprise and very contrived. My mum is reading it now, and is really enjoying it.
My vintage read this month was "I Capture The Castle" by Dodie Smith. I first read this years ago, but lost my copy. I got this one in Oxfam and I really enjoyed it all over again. The tale of the Mortmain family is timeless and the heroine, Cassandra, is such a well written and admirable character. It is a very funny book and you do wish the best for the whole phalanx of eccentrics who populate the novel. A perfect sunny day read.
I am a big fan of Tina Fey and think "30 Rock" is utterly brilliant. Her autobiography "Bossypants" is hilarious. It contains a lot of American cultural references which passed me by, but her very non-serious account of her life does make some very important points about the role of women in show business. I laughed out loud quite a few times reading this, her account of her honeymoon is worth the price of the book alone.
Jude Morgan's book, "The Taste Of Sorrow" is a fictionalised account of the Bronte's life. I recently saw Northern Broadside's excellent play, "We Are Three Sisters" which did basically the same thing. I love anything which brings the past to life, and this novel did do that. We all know the story and, of course, its tragic end, but Jude Morgan did breathe new life into it, especially the account of Charlotte and Emily's trip to Belgium and the influence that had on them. The death of Anne moved me to tears,and poor Charlotte, once the middle sibling of six, seeing her sisters and brother all die before her.
I had been meaning to read "The Hand That First Held Mine" for ages, and I am really glad I did. Maggie O'Farrell has written a really good book set in the fifties and modern day London. The account of the days after a traumatic birth are expertly written , the brain-fog that descends is acutely described. Again, I was moved to tears as the story unfolded, I really cared what happened to the characters. Well worth a read.

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