Literary Life: October in Review

I am not usual one for these sorts of post, but I have been informed that a more personal touch is generally a pleasant way of engaging readers. So, in the spirit of wanting to engage people and actually listening to advice, this is October’s overview.

I have seen quite a few blogs that I follow post monthly overviews (Judith and Charli for example) and in the case where I have missed, or want to return to, something they have written, I have found these posts a wonderful addition to their blogs.

Of the books I have read this month one has been a ‘Book Before 30’, another an anticipated arrival and one a wondrous surprise:

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
Wonderfully written and hopelessly depressing; I had difficulty concentrating on reading when all I wanted to do was write down the mess it was creating in my head. John Dowell narrates us through his life over a period of almost two years. His narration is fascinating as when he begins writing he is in shock, which changes to anger, realisation and eventually sad acceptance. The reliability of his unfortunate tale is constantly in question and you never really know whether to sympathise with or be critical of, his ignorance.

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Possibly one of the coolest people I will never meet, Caitlin has a friendly and optimistic approach to showing women how feminism is not the stigma it is made out to be. Think you are female but not feminist? Unless you fancy having your right to vote revoked or getting your dad or husband to sign your credit card form, think again.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
I discovered Kate Morton was releasing a new novel completely by accident. Finding myself unimpressed by her last novel, The Distant Hours, I stopped following her progress as an author. It certainly was fortuitous, and a thoroughly wondrous surprise, that I happened upon The Secret Keeper. Morton is back on form, darting between 2011 and war time London, which was both heartfelt and mysterious. Well worth the read, I look forward to her next.

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Another book I picked up from my love of The Paris Wife, much as I had with The Sun Also Rises. Published posthumously, Hemingway makes a sentimental journey through his life in 20s Paris. Overly romantic about his first wife and overtly spiteful of his second, Hemingway often neglects to mention his failings or find himself culpable for his actions. His fall-out with Stein, close bond with Pound and fondness for Fitzgerald are all discussed, giving you a small insight into the life of a genius.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
I had been anticipating The Casual Vacancy from the moment Rowling divulged she was to write a novel for adults. Perhaps this anticipation soured my reading experience, perhaps I expected something on the level of Potter genius, however, The Casual Vacancy was not as I expected. Fantastic story, amazing characters, but an appalling writing style, no different from the tone used in her children’s literature. Although, as a Potter fanatic, my standards were possibly unrealistically high.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
On my ‘Books Before 30’ list, Jane Eyre has been that one classic I could never pick up with ease, something always replaced it on the to-read list. Having read it I can only comment that Charlotte Brontë is both awesome and in need of a good editor. It casts a fascinating light over the female power, creating the perfect man and colonialist perceptions.

And that, is October in Review.

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4 Comments on "Literary Life: October in Review"

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Judith
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Brief and to the point! Nice. It lead my to your Rowling review. I hope to be reading it soon and decide for myself.

Good to hear that you find my overviews useful. I never know whether anyone actually reads them. :-)

Charlie
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Round-ups are a good idea, they let you have a further look back at your reading, and help with logging. You’ve mentioned the other point – sometimes those RSS readers seem to miss posts or you don’t remember reading them so the lists are useful. I know that feeling of not wanting to continue, wanting to write notes instead. I can’t decide if it’s a sign of engagement or just a passion for writing. I like the sound of The Good Soldier, the character development, it reminds a bit of the way authors write characters who need to work out… Read more »
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