Recent reads

Wake, Anna Hope

Thoughtful, melancholy exploration of post-World War I Britain. This is very much a book about being broken — being mended, being ignored, and being forced into becoming something new. The title is very apt, evoking grief but also describing the characters’ process of awakening. Wake is a quiet book but the characters very much aren’t, from spiky Evelyn to grief-stricken Ada to tired, dreaming Evelyn. I connected with these women even as I winced at their choices.

The Hundred Million Francs (or the Horse Without a Head), Paul Berna

Wow, I can tell when this was written! “Darky”? Really?!

Racism aside, it’s a pretty good Emil and the Detectives type story. I would probably get more out of it if I’d read it as a child, but it was interesting reading a children’s story that mentioned after-effects of the war in passing rather than being the main event of the book.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things, Patrick Rothfuss

This book irritated me for a lot of reasons, but if you like affected language and beautiful broken girls obsessed with pleasing a man then you might enjoy it.

Sorry, that was a terrible review. I guess Rothfuss’ portrayal of women tends to rub me the wrong way. I’m fine with reading a novella with one character where nothing really happens, but I do have to find that character compelling.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer

I’ve been meaning to read this one for aaages, and as I seem to be in the mood for wartime stories at the moment (during and/or after) and this one has the bonus of not being too heartwrenchingly sad, I finally picked it up. I’d like to be friends with all of the characters, including Zenobia the parrot.

Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, Paul Roberts

This is a fascinating book! I totally recommend this to anyone with an interest in history. Roberts divides the book into sections on dining, bathrooms, kitchens etc, with photos and examples of real places in Pompeii and Herculaneum. I found some of the smaller objects really interesting, especially the only surviving example of a Roman cot, carbonised in the eruption. And the toilet graffiti is always funny. Well worth it just for the pictures!

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp, Eva Rice

I was a few chapters in before I realised that this is a semi-sequel to The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets. Set in the 60’s, it follows the adolescence of Tara Jupp and her large family, with walk-in roles played by some of the characters in the previous book. It’s interesting looking at a strong friendship from the outside — whereas Lost Art features the great friendship between Penelope and Charlotte, Misinterpretation focusses on Tara, the outsider in the relationship between Tara’s sister and best friend (and later between the sister and her husband).

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