Well, it has been a hot minute since I posted on here. Life has been chaotic, but I have indeed been reading! Instead of posting individual reviews, I thought it might be fun to do a quick wrap-up of the highs, the lows, and the DNFs. If you’d like more detailed comments, I post all reviews on my Goodreads and have a few videos on my channel.
Starting on a positive, I have read some incredible works in translation in the last few weeks. Amelie Nothomb’s Strike Your Heart has set me on a quest to read all of her works (well, those translated into English from French anyway!). It’s a short but incredibly unique read following the relationships a woman has with other women in her life in the absence of any maternal love. I also ticked off a book that has been on my TBR for years, Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind. While this was an imaginative and compelling narrative that was a delight for a booklover to read, I couldn’t get past the constant objectification and sexualization of every female character.
I feel like I DNF’d (did not finish) more books than usual of late, including Man Book Prize shortlisted The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner. I just couldn’t get into the overly-detailed descriptions and felt lost in the constant jumps within the narrative itself. I also stopped Kitty Zelidis’ Not Our Kind very early in too – I will say that if you’re looking for fiction with representations of Jewish identity in post-war NYC, this may be the book for you!
Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, released a free short story recently, Evidence of the Affair. Told entirely in letters between two individuals whose spouses are having an affair with each other, for me this took a predictable turn and lacked the sparkle of Evelyn Hugo. I am looking forward to her upcoming release, Daisy Jones and the Six though. I think in many ways it is harder to connect with a short story, particularly a stand-alone that doesn’t have the comfort of being within an anthology to buffer its reception.
I dipped my toe in “Southern lit” with Diane Chamberlain’s The Dream Daughter – a book that I would recommend going into blind as Goodreads is littered with spoilers! Another in this genre that has become one of my favorite reads of the year is Delia Owens’s Where the Crawdads Sing. This was a flawless story for me, an incredibly well-paced narrative about life on the fringes of a community in North Carolina. It still captures my thoughts and I think is one that I will look to re-read soon!
There have been some other stand out reads that I would be remiss not to mention. Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black was an adventure story with a difference – it gives a global perspective on slavery and is filled with profound discussions, as well as being a compelling and page-turning read. Chris Hammer’s Scrublands was another read that I was entranced by. The descriptions of the drought-stricken community reeling from a church-massacre was atmospheric, and the characters so vivid! The ending was complex and very clever (perhaps too clever, I’m not entirely sure I followed everything!) and it is an Australian crime fiction that I’d highly recommend to international readers.
I’d love to know if you’ve read any of the books I mentioned, or have any you’d recommend to me?