After neglecting to write notes on the following novels, and pondering how to write book reviews, I came up with this handy idea of doing a brief review of recent reads to catch up on books I’ve missed out of reviews recently. I would probably like to say more about them, and I know there were many interesting things about them but I just can’t remember where in the novels said things were. Here’s a round-up:
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
I had been meaning to read this book for a long, long time. It’s bookish subject of a young woman brought up in a bookshop, persuaded to write the biography of mysterious writer Vida de Winter was immediately going to appeal to my interests. I hadn’t expected the novel to be so Gothic – and I LOVED it. The references to Jane Eyre, Lady Audley’s Secret, madwomen and ancestral homes and family secrets. It was an engrossing read and will appeal especially to fans of Gothic fiction.
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Another that had been on my list for a while, in fact I think it’s one of the only books from my 2012 Reading List that I have read recently. I seem to have been neglecting that list… But I digress. I enjoyed this book and its take on how past events shape us and the distinction between documentation and what our memory tells us happened. Something I think I would like to re-read.
Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster
I’ll admit I was disappointed with this one – I usually love Auster’s playfulness with words, structure and character but in this novella it just all seemed a bit over-done, like an explorative exercise rather than a story. It intentionally plays with the reader’s perception but I think it was just a bit too post-modern for my tastes. I wasn’t in the mood for it, I think – might take a break from Auster for a while after this!
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
Anne Robinson on the My Life in Books couch
Recently I have been confined to my house for health reasons and have been mainly watching My Life in Books, a BBC series presented by Anne Robinson which features various famous faces talking about books which have influenced them in their lives. It has been entertaining for several reasons. Firstly, it satisfies the need in me to talk about literature and discover new books to read. Since watching this programme I have been on a feverish quest to make a list of every book I want to read EVER. It is growing daily; one book will lead to another which leads to another. It will take me years to read them all, and there are some of them that will probably never even make it onto my bookshelf.
Another reason it has been interesting is learning about the lives of famous faces. I’m not talking about your average celebs, I’m talking about authors such as P.D James (or to give her full title, Baroness James of Holland Park) and Jeanette Winterson, the Duchess of Devonshire (Debo, youngest of the infamous Mitford sisters), the editor of British Vogue Alexandra Shulman (who it turns out had quite a bohemian start in life before adopting her now tee-total lifestyle), the two people who were on with their rich heritage (actress and what’s his face who had connections running back), and actresses Natascha McElhone and Anna Chancellor. There are male guests too of course, Keith Allen, Richard Bacon, Dan and Peter Snow, Sir Trevor McDonald and Nicky Haslam, so all in all quite a varied selection that makes it interesting watching, even if books aren’t quite your thing.
I also find it fun to play a little game whilst watching the programme. The rules are simple: count the number of times that Anne Robinson utters the word ‘meanwhile’ during the show. I counted six in one particular episode! I thought it would make a great literary drinking game but as I am off the devil’s drink at the moment I had to make do with swallies of tea instead… Fun nevertheless. Coincidentally, ‘nevertheless’ is an example of a different linking word Anne could have used to shake things up a little. “At the same time” or “Elsewhere in the country/world…” would also have been excellent alternatives. Maybe I should take up scriptwriting…
Anyway! The point of this post is that the programme got me thinking about which books have influenced my life so far. I’m only 23 though so I’d like to hope that I still have three quarters of my life to go… So shall we say, My Quarter-Life in Books? I think that would do as a starting place.