Jennifer's 2019 Reading (japaul22) - Part 2

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Jennifer's 2019 Reading (japaul22) - Part 2

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1japaul22
Editado: Jul 2, 2019, 7:04pm

Welcome to Part 2 of my 2019 reading! Thanks for following along!

2japaul22
Editado: Jul 2, 2019, 7:06pm

Reading Outloud with my Kids
William (age 9):
The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket
Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Isaac (age 6):
Dragon Masters #7, #8, #9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Vocabulary
iniquitous
didactic
inveighed
fulminate
assiduity
orgulous
diuturnity
peroration
surfeit
cynosure
pablum
inchoate
peripeteias
apostasy
spurious
uxorious
solecism
solipsism
accrete
labile
inimical
palimpsest
immanent
atavistic
noisome
hortatory
parturition
agglutinative
otiose
recrudescence
matutinal - of, relating to, or occurring in the morning
exiguity - the quality or condition of being scanty or meager
abstruse - difficult to understand
prurient - characterized by an inordinate interest in sex
perspicacious - having or showing penetrating mental discernment; clear-sighted
integument - a natural outer covering or coat, such as animal skin or a membrane
palaver - idle chatter; talk intended to charm or beguile
coeval - originating or existing during the same period; lasting through the same era
sartorial - of or relating to a tailor or tailored clothing
ignominious - deserving shame or disgrace
liminal - intermediate between two states or conditions; transitional or indeterminate
2019:
revenant - one that returns after a lengthy absence or after death
pabulum - intellectual material that is bland, trite, or insipid
senescent - growing old, aging

3japaul22
Editado: Dez 28, 2019, 6:40pm

Reading Plans:
2020
January - The Diviners group read, The Bertrams group read, A House and It’s Head group litsy read
February - Wolf Hall reread
March - Bring up the Bodies reread
April - The Mirror and the Light
April-June The Golden Notebook group read
May - La Reine Margot group read
September - The Magic Mountain group read
October - Murder Must Advertise group read
November - The Nine Tailors group read

These lists are to help me pick books when I don't have a "next book" in mind. They will also give you an idea of the kinds of books I enjoy.

Contemporary Authors that I follow (i.e. I'll probably read any new novel they put out and am reading any backlog I haven't gotten to yet):
Hilary Mantel
Kate Atkinson
Eleanor Catton
Eowyn Ivey
Amor Towles
Tana French
Marilynne Robinson
Toni Morrison
Hannah Tinti
Barbara Kingsolver
Ann Patchett
Kamila Shamsie
Chimamanda Adichie
Margaret Atwood
Madeline Miller

Series/Mysteries that I follow:
Robert Galbraith, Cormoran Strike mysteries
Tana French
Jane Harper
C.J. Sansom
Sharon Kay Penman

Classic authors I love (reading novels I haven't read yet or rereads):
Jane Austen
the Brontes
Virginia Woolf
George Eliot
Trollope
Thomas Mann
Doestoevsky
Tolstoy
Haldor Laxness
Sigrid Undset
Faulkner
Zola
Scandinavian classics

4japaul22
Editado: Jul 2, 2019, 7:07pm

Read in the first half of 2019

January
1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
2. Quicksand by Nella Larsen
3. SPQR by Mary Beard
4. The Sea House by Esther Freud
5. Augustus by John Williams
6. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
7. The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson
8. Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston
9. Pointed Roofs by Dorothy Richardson

February
10. Becoming by Michelle Obama
11. Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
12. The Colour by Rose Tremain
13. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
14. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
15. Backwater by Dorothy Richardson
16. Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf

March
17. Honeycomb by Dorothy Richardson
18. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
19. The Kellys and the O'Kellys by Anthony Trollope
20. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
21. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset on audio

April
22. During the Reign of the Queen of Persia by Joan Chase
23. Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata
24. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
25. The Tunnel by Dorothy Richardson
26. Interim by Dorothy Richardson
27. Madame President by Helene Cooper
28. The Maze at Windermere by Gregory Blake Smith
29. The Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton

May
30. Fools of Fortune by William Trevor
31. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
32. Educated by Tara Westover
33. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah on audio
34. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

June
35. Tombland by C.J. Sansom
36. The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
37. Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
38. Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyns
39. Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
40. The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt

5japaul22
Editado: Dez 30, 2019, 6:36pm

July

41. Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
42. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
43. Perfume by Patrick Suskind
44. Proust's Duchess by Caroline Weber
45. Living by Henry Green
46. The Good People by Hannah Kent

August

47. Deadlock by Dorothy Richardson
48. The Power by Naomi Alderman
49. Paradise by Toni Morrison
50. Revolving Lights by Dorothy Richardson
51. History. A Mess. by Sigrun Palsdottir
52. The Trap by Dorothy Richardson
53. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
54. The Body Lies by Jo Baker
55. Fredereck Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight

September
56. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
57. Hell's Princess by Harold Schechter
58. The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
59. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
60. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
61. So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ
62. The Seas by Samantha Hunt

October
63. An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
64. The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett
65. Dreyer's English by Benjamin Dreyer
66. My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
67. Oberland by Dorothy Richardson
68. I'm Not Scared by Niccolo Ammanniti
69. City of Light, City of Poison by Holly Tucker

November
70. Memories of the Future by Siri Hustvedt
71. The Lost Queen by Signe Pike
72. Dawn's Left Hand by Dorothy Richardson
73. Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
74. Confusion by Stefan Zweig
75. Clear Horizon by Dorothy Richardson
76. Dimple Hill by Dorothy Richardson
77. March Moonlight by Dorothy Richardson
78. Butcher's Crossing by John Williams
79. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
80. The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung

December
81. Maybe you should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
82. Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higgenbothom
83. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
84. The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell
85. The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes
86. The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
87. Memento Mori by Muriel Spark
88. No Stopping us Now by Gail Collins

6japaul22
Editado: Jul 2, 2019, 11:04pm

#41 Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

I needed a break from the two heavy books I'm reading, and when this came in from the library I thought it would be just the thing. Something in the Water is one of this summer's thriller/page turners. A newlywed couple - the husband has just lost his high paying bank job - go on a honeymoon to Bora Bora. While scuba diving, they find a black duffel bag floating in the water. What they find in it leads them down a road they weren't expecting.

The whole thing is implausible and fairly predictable at the same time. Not as clever as some other books I've read in this vein. It was fine though - a quick read that sort of kept my interest and definitely gave my brain a break.

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 352 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle library
Why I read this: looking for a page turner

7BLBera
Jul 2, 2019, 8:04pm

I love new threads, Jennifer because I can look back at the reading you've done this year. We have many of the same favorite authors. When I finish the one I'm reading now, I'm going to read Kate Atkinson's new one. I can't wait.

It sounds like you have fun reading with your boys. I miss those days of reading every night. At least I get to read to my granddaughter.

8japaul22
Jul 8, 2019, 7:17pm

>7 BLBera: I tried Case Histories and didn't like it all that much. I love Atkinson's other works, but haven't gotten into her mystery series.

I do love reading to my boys! My older son in particular LOVES being read too. My younger one is more resistant, but I'm persevering.

9japaul22
Jul 8, 2019, 7:27pm

#42 The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

I've been meaning to read this for a while, and with the recent fire at Notre Dame, I decided to pick it up. I'm glad I did, especially because the descriptions of Notre Dame and the city of Paris in the 14th century were vivid and interesting. When Hugo wrote this book, he wrote it as historical fiction. I think it's easy to lose that now, since his present is so distant to a modern reader, but I also think it's an important part of the book.

Beyond the descriptions of the city and architecture, the plot and characters were actually a little weak for me. There are so many diversions and stops and starts with the storylines, that it was hard for me to get into. Hugo does tie it all together in the end, very dramatically, but it took a long time to get there.

I suppose most people are familiar with the basic story of Quasimodo and Esmerelda, but it's darker and more complex than I expected it to be. I think this book is worth reading once, but it won't be a favorite for me.

Original publication date: 1831
Author’s nationality: French
Original language: French
Length: 541 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle
Why I read this: 1001 books

10japaul22
Jul 15, 2019, 12:00am

#43 Perfume: the Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

I loved this inventive thriller set in 18th century France. Grenouille is an orphan born in Paris. When he is just a baby, his first nurse notices that he has no scent. She is repulsed and afraid of him and refuses to nurse him. As he grows, Grenouille realizes that he has an unusual sense of smell. He can smell everything down to the smallest scent and separate out the individual smells that comprise others. In fact, he can only relate to the world through scent. He becomes apprenticed to a parfumier in order to learn how to distill and capture scents. But he is not interested in the normal scents that a parfumier is interested in - instead he is interested in the scents that other humans can barely smell or notice, particularly their own human scents. Later in the book, Grenouille leaves Paris and finally discovers that he himself smells like nothing. His quest to create a scent for himself leads him to the ability to manipulate others through scent.

This is an extremely clever premise is carried out really well. I loved the creativity of the book and was so interested to find out how it would end. Highly recommended.

Original publication date: 1985
Author’s nationality: German
Original language: German
Length: 255 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library kindle
Why I read this: 1001 books

11karspeak
Jul 15, 2019, 3:18am

>10 japaul22: Sounds intriguing, thanks.

12japaul22
Jul 18, 2019, 12:22pm

#44 Proust's Duchess by Caroline Weber

This dense nonfiction explores the lives of three women who Proust used as a composite to create his famous character, the Duchess of Guermantes, in In Search of Lost Time. Having recently read this novel, I knew I had to read this as soon as I saw it had been published.

The three women, Geneviève Bizet Straus, Laure de Chevigné, and Élisabeth Greffulhe, (I've shortened their names and titles significantly for convenience!) were staples of the French monde. They were known for their beauty and dominance of society. They were significantly different from each other, and Weber does a wonderful job of bringing them each to life separately. They do have things in common, such as loveless marriages, sometimes even abusive, and a shallowness that likely came with their focus on being popular. These traits were central to Proust's novel.

Geneviève Straus's first husband was the composer Bizet of Carmen fame. When he died young she never forgot him despite remarrying. She was an opium user, had a facial tick, and would often entertain in a comfortable but risque nightgown.

Laure de Chevigné was a descendant of the Marquis de Sade. She had an interesting way of speaking, using made up slang and also pursued typically male pursuits like hunting and putting herself in male circles.

Élisabeth Greffulhe was probably the most stereotypical example of a mondain superstar. She consistently made a splash at every ball with her eccentric and beautiful costumes. She gathered men to her, always having many men declaring love for her while she kept them at a distance. It seems she rarely if ever consummated any of these relationships, simply wanting the attention and adoration. She was a beauty, often compared to a swan and painted by many famous artists of the time.

Proust met these three in the order I've described them, at first being obsessed with meeting them and then becoming disillusioned with how boring he found their salons. Weber has written a book that strikes a great balance of describing these women and their lives with source material and also connecting them to Proust's famous novel as characters. She gets the balance between analyzing the book and separating these women from it just right.

I think this will mainly appeal to readers of In Search of Lost Time, but those who have an interest in the lives of high society women in early 1900 France might also be interested. I loved it.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 715 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library hardback
Why I read this: nonfiction relating to Proust

13BLBera
Jul 18, 2019, 5:54pm

>8 japaul22: When I think of Hunchback, Jennifer, I think of Disney -- it sounds like the novel is worth reading, but there's no rush.

>9 japaul22: This sounds excellent. It's been on my shelf for years; I must get to it.

>12 japaul22: This also sounds good - another chunkster!

14lyzard
Jul 19, 2019, 10:38pm

>9 japaul22:

I think we're so manipulated in our thinking about that one by the cleaned-up movies, it's hard to take the book on its own merits.

15Nickelini
Jul 20, 2019, 8:55pm

Great word list -- are these words you notice as you read?

I have a short story about "sartorial" -- a few years ago my husband was trying on suits at a super fancy men's store here in Vancouver. The salesman kept commenting "this is a very sartorial suit," or "you look better in a sartorial suit" (this was at the height of the fashion for those super-skinny suits that looked like an adult male was squeezing into his suit from middle school and looked terrible on any guy who wasn't underweight). As I watched I Googled it. When we walked out of the store he asked me "what the hell is sartorial?". It means "suit" I told him (which was that main part of the definition I found). So now when we look at men's clothing, we talk about suity-suits.

16japaul22
Jul 20, 2019, 9:32pm

>15 Nickelini: yes, they are words I come across in my reading that are either totally unfamiliar or I “know” them couldn’t verbalize a definition.

Good sartorial story!

17AlisonY
Jul 21, 2019, 1:48pm

Great review of Perfume. I've been circling around that novel for years now but still haven't picked it up to read - your review encourages me.

18japaul22
Jul 26, 2019, 5:18pm

#45 Living by Henry Green

I almost put this book down after the first 10 pages because it was not grabbing me. It seemed like too many characters, the dialect was tough to decipher, and the author uses very few articles (like a, the, etc.). The lack of articles made me read the book in a sort of monotone voice in my head that was robotic and boring. But, I persevered. And I ended up really liking it.

The novel takes place in 1920s England in a factory town. It centers on the workers and their relationship with the owner and his son who is starting to take over the business. It also focuses on one household with an older man, Mr. Craigan, who has boarders, Mr. Gates, his daughter Lucy, and Mr. Dale. Mr. Craigan acts as a father/grandfather to Lucy and controls her behavior and also tries to set her up with Mr. Dale. Lucy has her own ideas, though, and takes up with another factory man. Lucy tries to escape her life and her inability to do so is a major theme of the book. There is also much social commentary on working conditions and the treatment of aging employees.

Though I'm not sure I really understood the point of the writing style in this book, I ended up appreciating it and I'm sure it will make the book more memorable to me. I'm curious to try more of Green's writing.

Original publication date: 1929
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 213 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library nyrb edition
Why I read this: 1001 books

19AlisonY
Jul 26, 2019, 6:47pm

>18 japaul22: Interesting to read your thoughts on this. A few years ago I picked up the Loving, Living, Party Going trilogy from my library, but I didn't continue past Loving. I just looked back at my review on LT and was reminded that it frustrated me as I really enjoyed the writing but felt it needed it to go further on plot. With certain types of novels I'm happy for it to be all about the writing and not the plot, but I felt that Green's style could have really pulled off a terrific page-turning plot.

20japaul22
Jul 26, 2019, 7:14pm

>19 AlisonY: Alas, Living is definitely not a page turner either. I gave into the mood though and ended up really liking it. I also own Loving so when I feel like getting back to Green, I'll read that next.

21SassyLassy
Jul 26, 2019, 8:09pm

>18 japaul22: If I remember correctly, Green was writing mainly in dialogue so that the reader could hear directly from the characters themselves, rather than through Green as an intermediary.

Like you, I appreciated the style and thought that especially when it came to both Lucy, and the conditions in the workplace, it gave a much better idea of how things were than any description could have.

You remind me that although I meant to follow up with another Green, I have not yet done so. Hmm.

22RidgewayGirl
Jul 26, 2019, 8:21pm

I have a copy of the Living, Loving, Party Going trilogy on my tbr, because Francine Prose recommended it in her book about reading fiction.

23baswood
Jul 26, 2019, 10:16pm

>18 japaul22: An English writer from the 1920's that is new to me. Very interesting

24japaul22
Jul 27, 2019, 7:03pm

>21 SassyLassy: There is a lot of dialogue, but there's also a decent amount of description. The descriptive passages are the ones lacking articles.

>22 RidgewayGirl: I'd be interested to hear what you think!

>23 baswood: I'm impressed with myself for finding an author you don't know! I found it on the 1001 books list and through some other readers on LT.

25japaul22
Editado: Ago 14, 2019, 6:37pm

#46 The Good People by Hannah Kent

This is a rare example of a book that I purchased in a bookstore on vacation and read immediately. And it was fun!

The book is set in Ireland, probably in the early 1900s. The "Good People" of the title are fairies who are credited and blamed with much of the trials and tribulations of a small village in rural Ireland. Nance is the local healer who has the knowledge of the Good People and the locals both need her services and distrust her practices and intentions. This distrust is exacerbated by the new, young, Priest in the village who denounces her skill and encourages the villagers to trust the church instead of her fairy-craft.

There are several subplots, but the main story line involves Nora, a recent widow who is caring for her deceased daughter's son, Micheal. Micheal was born a "normal" child, but at about 2 years of age, coinciding with the death of the daughter (his mother), Micheal stops progressing in language and loses the use of his legs. Nora, under Nance's influence, believes that the Good People have taken the actual child, Micheal, and replaced him with a fairy child. The steps the women take to banish the fairy lead to dire consequences.

I liked a lot of elements of this book - the setting, the characters, and the fast-paced writing style. There was one thing that bothered me throughout the book, though. My expectations in a plot like this are that the woman being accused of witchcraft-type practices actually has quite a bit of skill as a healer, through inherited knowledge of herbs and good medical practices. I've read so many novels with women midwives who are skilled in delivering babies and curing common illnesses. Usually they don't know the science behind their practices but our current knowledge shows why these practices were actually helpful. But in this book, Nance really doesn't seem to have much of that skill. I couldn't figure out if I was supposed to be supporting her when her actions were obviously not going to work and seemed only rooted in this fear of fairies. If this culture blamed mental illness on fairies, then holding the affected person to a fire, or effectively poisoning them with herbs, or holding them in a converging river is obviously not going to help. I guess what I'm saying is that the practices didn't seem like they could be rooted in any past success, so I don't understand why they would have survived as treatments.

I'm probably over-thinking it. It was an entertaining novel and, like the author's first novel, Burial Rites, I liked it enough to keep reading this author's work. If anyone else reads this, I'll be curious to hear what you think!

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: Australian
Original language: English
Length: 380 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased on vacation
Why I read this: like the author's previous work

26rhian_of_oz
Jul 30, 2019, 11:27am

>25 japaul22: I bought The Good People on the basis of Burial Rites and also having seen Ms Kent speak twice (she's brilliant). However I stopped reading it because I could see that "something dire" was coming and I didn't want to confront it. Maybe I need to read a really happy story first and then try this one again.

27kac522
Editado: Ago 1, 2019, 5:47pm

Jennifer:
Thought of you & Proust when I saw this on the Newberry Library's website:

https://www.newberry.org/09112019-corr-proust-new-digital-edition-marcel-proust-...

Even if you can't fly into Chicago for the talk :), I think you can check out the digital collection at UofI.

28japaul22
Ago 1, 2019, 1:31am

>27 kac522: Oh how interesting! And believe it or not, I actually went to University of Illinois for my undergraduate degree! Thanks for the link!

29japaul22
Editado: Ago 14, 2019, 6:37pm

#47 Deadlock by Dorothy Richardson

I've started VMC's third volume of Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage. It begins with the 6th novel, Deadlock. This novel centers on Miriam's budding relationship with a Russian man, Mr. Shatov. They have long philosophical discussions, introduce each other to great writers in their respective languages, and explore London together. The romance is slow to develop and then suddenly they are in crisis. As I've come to expect with Richardson's writing, the actual crisis is barely described - it seems these moments are too intense for her to write about with any amount of detail. But from subsequent discussions, I believe the conflict was him asking her to marry him and revealing that he's Jewish and them not being able to see a way forward with their relationship with their different religion and culture. But I think there could have been something else as well that he revealed to her that she never reveals to the reader, at least that I could find.

In addition to this relationship, there are a few episodes with former characters. Some of the other boarders are revisited. Miriam is also fired from her dentist office secretary position after speaking her mind too heatedly. This happens about half way through the book and honestly, I was wondering if she was even still working there because her work life isn't touched on at all. And then suddenly she's fired! It seemed that she might have been rehired, but then the topic is dropped so I wasn't completely sure. She also goes to visit her sisters - I really enjoyed this scene. Eve has escaped her governess position and opened a shop. Harriet is married to Gerald and they are unhappy but staying together for their kids.

Importantly in this volume, Miriam begins to write and finds she's good at it. Her first foray is in translating a French work. This success gives her a lot of confidence. This development of a real talent I assume will continue in subsequent volumes.

What stuck out to me in this book is that Miriam has become more vocal. In previous novels she is opinionated but the "discussions" mainly occur through her interior monologue. In this book she states her opinion, often to Mr. Shatov, but also at work, which gets her in trouble, and to her family. I liked seeing this change in Miriam. She's growing up, exploring how to vocalize her opinions, and using others reactions to frame her own beliefs and grow. Her opinions on feminism, particularly, are maturing and she's able to voice some of her feelings about life as an English woman.

Original publication date: 1921
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 229 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased virago used edition
Why I read this: 1001 books, year long group read

30japaul22
Ago 6, 2019, 2:19pm

I'm sure most of you have seen this, but Toni Morrison has died. She has been an incredibly important author to me. I was first introduced to her through a college American Lit course back in the 1990s. To be honest, my youthful self didn't realize that high quality, challenging literature was being written. I had been immersed in either old classics or bestseller-type fiction. Her writing to me is always poetic, challenging, dramatic, and profound. I've read five of her novels and The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved are my favorites. I have Paradise and Tar Baby on the shelf and will try to get to one of them soon.

31japaul22
Editado: Ago 14, 2019, 6:38pm

#48 The Power by Naomi Alderman

Alderman has come up with an interesting and powerful premise: women around the world are awakened to the fact that they have an electrical charge that gives them physical power over men. It starts first in 15 year old girls. There are several characters followed through this awakening. Allie, an abused foster child, experiences it as a religious movement and becomes "Mother Eve" to her followers. Roxy, daughter of a mob boss, uses her extensive power to continue in her father's footsteps. Tunde is a man who travels the world documenting the events and consequences of the power. Margot is a woman in her 40s in politics and using events to climb to the top.

I found the idea to be powerful, but unfortunately I found the execution weak. What the women do with this new-found power might be partially realistic, but I found it disappointing. There is a lot of violence and not a lot of exploration of the intellectual side of what this physical power could mean. I also thought the characters she chose to create and develop did a disservice to what could have happened.

In short, I wish someone would try again with this premise but different characters, thematic exploration, and outcomes.

Original publication date: 2016
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 382 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased paperback at independent bookstore
Why I read this: catching up with the buzz around this book

32japaul22
Ago 17, 2019, 9:14pm

#49 Paradise by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison's recent death prompted me to pick up this book, which had been lingering too long on my shelves. I'm a little (more than a little) in awe of Morrison's talent and this book was no exception.

Paradise revolves around a small town of Ruby, Oklahoma, that was founded by 15 black families fleeing from persecution and racism. These families were freed slaves who were successful during Reconstruction, achieving political roles and higher education, and then squashed back down when whites regained control. They were even discounted and run out of towns by fellow blacks for being "too black". So they take that as a matter of pride and found their town that they try to keep pure to the original families.

The conflict comes with an enormous home 17 miles outside of their town that used to be a Convent. The remaining Mother and her "daughter" Connie end up taking in several misfit women who all have had traumatic roads to finding them. The men of Ruby are tempted by these women and of course end up blaming them for their problems, including the most recent generation of Ruby not valuing the same insular society. When they start to lose control of their dearly held beliefs, the blame falls to the women at the Convent and tragedy happens.

There's so much more to this book that can't be described in a brief description. It's complex and beautiful writing but it also draws you in. I read it quickly and was completely wrapped up in it. I love that Morrison can write with such complexity but still in a way that is so readable. I would rank this novel right up with my other favorites, Song of Solomon and Beloved.

Original publication date: 1997
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 318 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library sale paperback
Why I read this: Morrison's death prompted me to take it off the shelf

33AlisonY
Ago 19, 2019, 7:26am

>32 japaul22: great review. I loved my first Morrison last year (Beloved), so I must grab this one next time I see it in the second hand book shop.

34lilisin
Ago 19, 2019, 8:21am

>31 japaul22:

I had the same disappointed reaction to The Power. I thought the execution was so poorly done it felt like someone's homework assignment. Atwood was her mentor and you could tell she got much inspiration from Atwood but I wish that Atwood herself had written the book.

35dchaikin
Ago 19, 2019, 5:52pm

>32 japaul22: ok, I had a very different reaction to Paradise than you. I kind of fought with it, so, admiring your review and what you pulled out of it. Morrison means a lot to me as well, although much of my feelings are wrapped up in the two years or so I read through her works. (Not that long ago) Paradise marked a turning point for me in how I responded to her work. I loved everything she wrote before it, and was mixed on everything she wrote after it. Paradise is certainly a very complex novel doing a lot of different things. My issue with it was that she seemed to have forgotten all the literary touches - sometimes playful, sometimes beautiful, always creative - and just left us with a utilitarian map towards her ideas (which I didn’t think she ever spelled out. I seem to remember feeling uncertain as to her purpose.)

Catching up with a lot of other stuff here, noting the Proust book, and your Pilgrimage progress among others. I also read The Hunchback of Notre Dame this summer for the first time...and also was a bit mixed on it all, but glad to have read it.

36rocketjk
Ago 19, 2019, 7:56pm

Greetings! I'm relatively new to this group and have been enjoying visiting folks' threads. Just browsing yours today. I remember reading Hunchback of Notre Dame in my late 20s or early 30s, maybe, and being surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

I've loved Toni Morrison for a long time. Song of Solomon is my favorite, with Jazz a close second.

Will look forward to following along with your reading over the coming months.

37japaul22
Ago 19, 2019, 8:52pm

>34 lilisin: Yes, The Power had such a great premise - it was very disappointing.

>35 dchaikin: That's really interesting, Dan. I've read in this order:
The Bluest Eye (blown away by my first intro to her writing)
Song of Solomon (loved it)
Beloved (loved it)
A Mercy (ok, but felt it needed to be longer and more fleshed out)
Sula (good but I felt it was a bit less complex than her others)
Paradise (loved it as I said in review above)

I guess the only "post-Paradise" novel I've read is A Mercy, which I did feel was not as amazing as her other novels, but I would definitely group Paradise with the earlier ones that I loved. I didn't feel it was lacking in her "literary touches", as you put it, at all. And I saw some very clear, though complex, themes of "otherness", male-controlled societies and how women fit in them, female interactions (the good and the bad), and isolation. I will read all of her novels at some point, so we'll have to continue the discussion!

>36 rocketjk: Welcome! I've read your thread as well. I keep up pretty well with all the Club Read posts, though I don't comment as much as I should!

38japaul22
Ago 19, 2019, 9:14pm

#50 Revolving Lights by Dorothy Richardson
The 7th novel in Richardson's Pilgrimage left me a little cold. I feel like I really should have started a character list at the beginning of reading this book. There were several characters who return after absences and I had a hard time putting them in context.

The main action is this book is a vacation to visit Miriam's boarding school friend, Alma. There she meets a man named Hypo and slowly grows closer to him. There are some great moments, including the group deciding to sleep under the stars, and some philosophical discussions, often about the differing roles of men and women. Miriam also continues with her writing, branching out from translating. And the ending was intriguing - a note from Hypo asking "when can I see you? Just to talk."

After writing this, I visited my trusted (only) source I've found for any sort of commentary on Pilgrimage and I found that Hypo is actually married to Alma and is H.G. Wells. So now I know!

Original publication date: 1923
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 163 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: ebay VMC
Why I read this: year long project

39japaul22
Ago 21, 2019, 8:13pm

#51 History. A Mess. by Sigrún Pálsdóttir

I found this novel on a list of recent English translations by women authors and I'm so glad I did. Pálsdóttir packs a lot into this brief novel about a young woman whose life unravels after finding that eight years of work towards a doctoral thesis seems to be founded on a mistake. The narrator (I don't recall ever learning her name) has been studying a diary from the 1600s, believed to be written by S.B., painter of a famous portrait. Little is known about this "S.B." until the narrator stumbles upon a diary entry that makes it seem the portraitist is a woman. She builds her thesis on this discovery and towards the end of writing her 600 pages she discovers that she missed an entry that was mistakenly labeled with the same date. This entry suggests to her that she was wrong and S.B. was actually a man, negating all of her work.

This discovery leads to a surrealist account of a descent into madness and despair. There are confused, dream-like episodes paired with moments of harsh reality.

This book won't be for everyone but I really loved it.

Original publication date: 2016, 2019 translation
Author’s nationality: Icelandic
Original language: Icelandic
Length: 158 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased paperback
Why I read this: found on a list and was interested

40Simone2
Ago 22, 2019, 2:00pm

>31 japaul22: Agree on The Power. The premise was so much better than the execution!

41japaul22
Ago 24, 2019, 5:59pm

#52 The Trap by Dorothy Richardson
This is one of the shortest installments in Richardson's Pilgrimage. Not much happens and I'm finally getting a bit bored. Definitely hoping that the final volumes get back to what I loved about the first 6.

In The Trap, Miriam moves out of her single room in a boardinghouse into a shared flat with Miss Holland. At first they get along well and Miriam seems to enjoy her new living situation, but in the end she misses her solitude. There is also a New Years Eve party where she interacts with people her own age, including some young men. (I think Hypo was there, this time referred to as Wells)

I don't need something to "happen" since that isn't what this book is about, but I feel like I need a stronger episode where Miriam grows in some way. I haven't felt that much in The Trap or the previous volume, Revolving Lights. I'll take a break for a month or so and then return for the final volume which contains the final 5 volumes. I can do it! Right . . . ???

Original publication date: 1925
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 109 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased paperback virago
Why I read this: 1001 books, year long read

42japaul22
Ago 25, 2019, 2:07pm

#53 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I'm not sure how many times I've read this, probably 3 or 4, and this time I listened to it as an audiobook read by Juliet Stevenson. I loved it again, though some of the scenes being read came off as even more overwrought and dramatic than I remembered. And Juliet Stevenson is certainly not an overdramatic reader. But still, it's a wonderful book and I love it very much.

Original publication date: 1847
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 19h 15m
Rating: 5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: audible credit
Why I read this: reread, favorite

43NanaCC
Ago 25, 2019, 4:24pm

>42 japaul22: Jane Eyre is a favorite, but I’ve never thought to try the audio version.

44japaul22
Ago 25, 2019, 4:28pm

>43 NanaCC: I'm really enjoying "rereading" my favorites on audio. I get something a little different out of them each time. Plus, I'm terrible at listening to audiobooks - I really tend to zone out - so if it's a book I know well it's ok if I'm not paying attention here or there!

45NanaCC
Ago 25, 2019, 4:44pm

>43 NanaCC: I just put aside an audio version of Emma that I got as one of Audible’s freebies. It is a dramatization with Emma Thompson, Joanne Froggatt, Joseph Millson, and others. If it was just the dramatization, I think I would have kept at it, but when they are sitting at a table, you can hear the cutlery, or you can hear the horses hooves hitting the pavement if they are outside. I just felt it took away from the overall production. The sound effects seemed to be louder than the reader’s voices at times, and I just found it annoying. Perhaps I’ll try again at another time, but I was glad that I hadn’t used one of my credits for it.

On the other hand, I listened to Sense and Sensibility not too long ago, and it was very well done. It was narrated by Rosamund Pike.

46japaul22
Ago 25, 2019, 5:34pm

I think I've listened to all the Austen books on audio now. I don't like the productions either - I prefer a single reader. I feel like I used an audible credit to buy one of the Austen books read by Rosamund Pike that I haven't listened to yet. I'll have to check. I'm so slow with audiobooks.

47kac522
Ago 25, 2019, 1:38am

>45 NanaCC: I have an audio version of Emma read by Juliet Stevenson. Her voices for Mr. Woodhouse and Mrs. Elton crack me up every time.

48NanaCC
Editado: Ago 26, 2019, 12:31pm

>47 kac522: I saw that one suggested when I was checking my library yesterday. I will definitely use one of my credits for it. I’ll avoid the “productions” if there are sound effects. There have been other books with multiple readers that I have enjoyed.

49japaul22
Ago 27, 2019, 4:53pm

#54 The Body Lies by Jo Baker

I really liked this literary thriller about a young mother who is a professor of creative writing. She becomes entangled with her students, leading her into personal danger. I thought there were things that Baker could have chosen to do differently that would have made the book a little more believable and a bit more suspenseful, but I was happy to go along for the ride.

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 273
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library
Why I read this: new book, like the author

50japaul22
Ago 29, 2019, 12:09pm

#55 Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight

First off, let me make the distinction between Frederick Douglass himself and this particular biography. Frederick Douglass was a fascinating person who was one of the most important voices in the abolitionist movement. He overcame a life of slavery and racism to become a brilliant speaker and highly intelligent man. As most humans are, he was a complex person. Not all of his political ideas mesh with my 21st century beliefs and it certainly seemed he put his national political role in front of his family life. But in such times, who can blame him?

That all being said, I'm not convinced that this particular biography did justice to Frederick Douglass. It is very thorough and uses a lot of Douglass's own words from his writings and speeches, which I liked. However, I never felt that Blight really captured who Douglass was or did a good job propelling the action forward. And there was plenty of action to draw from in the turbulent times that Douglass lived.

I've read quite a few of these 900+ page biographies and I tend to enjoy them, so I don't think it was just the wrong book or format for me. I love an exhaustive biography and have flown through enormous tomes by Ron Chernow, Antonia Fraser, David McCullough, Robert K. Massie, etc. This one just didn't seem up to the same level.

I feel some guilt for not recommending this because of the topic, but I really think it could have been better. I'm definitely in the minority. It gets great reviews from other readers and won the Pulitzer after all, but that's my humble opinion.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 912
Rating: 2.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle purchase
Why I read this: interested in the topic

51dchaikin
Ago 29, 2019, 5:40pm

>50 japaul22: I completely agree Blight doesn’t propel the book forward. Not sure how I personally felt about his ability to capture who Douglass was. I had the sense that Blight captured who Blight thought Douglass was...but not, say, for example, who James Baldwin thought Douglass was. In other words I thought he had a non-universal perspective. Not sure if that’s really what you meant. Happy to read your take.

52kac522
Editado: Ago 29, 2019, 9:28pm

>50 japaul22: I haven't read the Blight biography, but years ago (1991? pre-LT!) I read the William McFeely biography of Douglass, and loved it. There may be new scholarship today, but I thought it was well done when I read it.

53BLBera
Ago 31, 2019, 9:47pm

Jennifer! You've been doing a lot of interesting reading lately. I have been enjoying your comments. I love Toni Morrison as well. Paradise is one of hers I would like to read again, one of the few I have only read once. Especially after reading her collection of essays The Source of Self-Regard, I am intrigued to take another look at it. I haven't read Sula or Love. Otherwise I think I've read all of them.

I loved Baker's A Country Road, A Tree and am looking forward to The Body Lies.

I've never thought of listening to Jane Eyre, but it's one I love as well.

I loved The Power. While parts of it were difficult to read, I felt Alderman was making a point about power and made it very well. Still, I know it's a book that has fostered wildly different opinions. I used it in a dystopian lit class I taught last year, and students responded well to it. It was a fun one to teach.

54japaul22
Set 1, 2019, 11:44pm

#56 Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This book completely lived up to the hype for me. Ng writes believable, complex characters that are in situations that, while they are dramatic, are still plausible.

This novel is set in Shaker Heights, a planned community in Cleveland, OH. It is regimented and every detail is planned, but it also strives to be diverse and welcoming. How successful it is is a complex answer. Within this community, the Richardsons have a perfect suburban life. When Mia and Pearl move into the Richardson's rental home, everyone's lives are shaken up. Mia is an artist and Pearl is her teenage daughter. They've lived a nomadic life and the reason why is one of the secrets that will be unearthed. Also central to the book is a custody battle between adoptive parents and a birth mother. To be honest, the idea of that sensational topic would have really put me off reading this book, but Ng makes it work and uses it to explore other themes more deeply.

Elena Richardson and Mia are set up as contrasts of motherhood and there is so much to unpack here. They are both complex and I love the Ng can write characters that are so different, yet neither is "right". Ng also explores themes of career vs. motherhood for women.

I read this book because I'm going on a long weekend beach trip with some of my fellow "mom friends" this weekend. I'm so glad we picked this book because I think we'll have a lot to talk about and the discussions could easily lead to more global and personal discussions about motherhood, womanhood, living in the suburbs, career, and life in general. I think we will have some differing opinions about the characters in this book and I'm looking forward to that!

Original publication date: 2017
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 336 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased book at independent bookstore
Why I read this: book club

55AlisonY
Set 2, 2019, 1:16pm

>54 japaul22: really looking forward to reading this. I nearly bought it last week on a book splurge, but there are loads of copies in the library so I've saved it for my next library order instead. Sounds great.

56japaul22
Set 4, 2019, 2:08pm

#57 Hell's Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men by Harold Schechter

Belle Gunness lived on a farm in La Porte, IN. When she and her young children died in a horrific fire, her fellow townspeople unearthed 28 bodies on her farm that she had dismembered and buried. It came to light that she was advertising for help on her farm (suggesting marriage), asking the men to bring cash or getting insurance policies, and then murdering them for the money. The gruesome and physical way she murdered these men coupled with the sheer number of men (and some of her adopted children) that she murdered, make her one of the most notorious female serial killers.

Harold Schechter goes through what is known of Belle's life chronologically, using newspaper accounts. He then covers the trial of the man who was convicted of setting Belle's house on fire. He also delves into the sensationalism surrounding the story. While many lament the 24 hour news cycle and voyeurism that are part of life today, it certainly was happening 100 years ago as well. Over 10,000 people showed up at the Gunness farm as the bodies were being unearthed to watch!

The story was interesting, but I'd say the book itself is just ok. The writing style got a little tedious for me - I felt the author relied a little too heavily on using newspaper articles and interviews. It was neat in a way to read contemporary accounts, but it tended to interrupt the flow of the narrative.

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 334 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle discounted book
Why I read this: LT review (Meredith) caught my eye

57RidgewayGirl
Set 4, 2019, 1:29am

I enjoyed The Body Lies more than you did - I think Baker communicated the aftereffects of what happened at the start of the book so well as well as an atmosphere that allowed for her to both feel menaced and doubt her own trepidations.

I'm glad you liked the Ng as I have this on my tbr.

58avaland
Set 6, 2019, 9:46pm

>10 japaul22: Is this possibly the same book that so many people named as "disturbing" in a thread of questions I posted years ago? Multiple people seemed to name it as the most disturbing book they had read.

>42 japaul22: I have Middlemarch read by Juliet Stevenson. She is so good.

Interesting reading this quarter!

59Nickelini
Set 8, 2019, 9:29pm

>58 avaland: I read Perfume last year. I didn't find it especially disturbing, but I can totally see why others would. It was a unique and entertaining read.

60rachbxl
Set 9, 2019, 3:30pm

>54 japaul22: I have been avoiding Little Fires Everywhere, for no rational reason. I just thought I didn’t want to read it, but I’ve been catching up with some threads here this afternoon, and yours is the second review of it that has made me think I might want to read it after all.

61japaul22
Set 9, 2019, 12:30am

>58 avaland: It was disturbing, I guess, but I found it more unique than actually disturbing. I could see how some would find it so, though.

>60 rachbxl: I also wasn't that interested in reading it, but it was picked for a book club. I don't know why I was hesitant, because I also really like her book Everything I Never Told you. I think I might have actually liked that one more.

62japaul22
Set 9, 2019, 12:42am

#58 The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence

This Canadian classic drew me right in. Hagar Shipley is a 90-something year old woman nearing the end of her life. She lives with her son, Marvin, and his wife Doris. As they age themselves and have a more difficult time caring for her, they begin to try to convince her to move to a nursing home. Hagar is adamantly opposed and takes drastic steps to avoid moving.

The book is told from Hagar's point of view and she reminisces about her life as a child, wife, and mother in rural Manawaka while also revealing how aging is affecting her, both physically and mentally. Reminisces isn't really the right word though. Her age and mental state means that often she almost relives some of these times. Hagar is pointed and direct, funny and unfiltered. I really liked her, even while seeing how difficult she would be to live with and care for.

The novel is written with lots of skill, beauty, and insight. I loved it.

Original publication date: 1964
Author’s nationality: Canadian
Original language: English
Length: 309 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased paperback
Why I read this: must have seen an LT review that caught my eye

63AlisonY
Set 10, 2019, 3:02pm

>62 japaul22: noting this one seeing as it reached the stellar heights of being an all time favourite book. I think I may have this on my wish list already but I'll check.

64japaul22
Set 18, 2019, 12:33pm

#59 The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Atwood took on an enormous challenge in writing this sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, which has experienced a cultural resurgence due to the TV series. I was so curious to find out how she would meet expectations of her reading following, her television following, and her own standards. I personally had fairly low expectations for this book because of all of that, but I think that Atwood really rose to the occasion and came up with a book that, while not as shocking and memorable as The Handmaid's Tale, is a successful book.

Instead of continuing Offred's story where it left off, Atwood jumps forward in time about 15 years. I thought this was VERY smart. In fact, Offred only exists in this book in the reader's assumption and/or imagination. Instead there are three narrators, writing their own stories. The familiar Aunt Lydia, a young girl named Agnes growing up in a privileged family who is slated to be a Wife, and a young girl named Daisy who is growing up outside of Gilead in Canada. Politically, the Mayday resistance to Gilead is growing and Gilead is starting to deteriorate. Right away, we find out that Aunt Lydia is actually part of that resistance and has been all along. We get her back story and see how she is working the system from the inside. I won't give any plot away, but Agnes and Daisy's stories end up intertwined as well, with each other and with Aunt Lydia.

The book ends, again, with a conference on Gileadean studies where some possible connections presented in the documents are discussed. I actually loved the very last statement of the book, that is a gravestone tribute to one of the characters. This short inscription managed to really color a lot of how I felt about this book in a positive way. It's the sort of moment that can deepen what you just read in an instant.

I've tried to be very careful not to give away any plot and that's difficult here, because this is a very plot-driven novel. I'm not sure what the reaction to this book will be from Atwood fans. I enjoyed it and thought it was well done, but at the same time, if it didn't have the connection to The Handmaid's Tale, I don't think I would have found it special or memorable at all. I hope that many people on LT choose to read it, though, because I'd love to hear everyone's opinions!

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: Canadian
Original language: English
Length: 419 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased hardback
Why I read this: how could I not??

65dchaikin
Set 18, 2019, 12:07am

Enjoyed your review. About the most hyped book I actually will read, or listen to, in a long time, although I’ll probably read it with out so much anticipation. I’ll have more of the concerned mindset like you seemed have started it with. Glad it rewarded. I picked up a new copy of The Handmaid’s Tale to reread as prep.

66Nickelini
Editado: Set 19, 2019, 6:10am

>64 japaul22:
Oh, great job of not spoiling it and great comments. I had hoped to read it when it came out in paperback. But yours is the second inciting review today, so maybe not. I hear it's a bit of a page turner, (which Handmaid's Tale wasn't . . . I made my husband and two daughters read it, and they were all "I get it, but ... ". And I have to say HT is way down my list of Atwood favs. But I appreciate it's cultural importance. )

67lisapeet
Editado: Set 19, 2019, 10:27am

>64 japaul22: >65 dchaikin: I've been pretty resistant to the hype. I'm sure I'll read it at some point—though maybe I should reread The Handmaid's Tale first? What do you think? But I haven't been all out of breath to jump on the bandwagon, mostly because I'm so hype-averse. (On the other hand, when Hilary Mantel's third Thomas Cromwell novel has a pub date, I'll be all over myself in anticipation.)

68japaul22
Set 19, 2019, 12:28pm

>65 dchaikin:, >66 Nickelini:, >67 lisapeet: I think a reread of Handmaid's Tale is a good idea. Some of the connections to it are subtle (in fact I'm sure I missed some) and there is no recap of plot from HT.

It's interesting that even though The Testaments is a more plot-driven novel, I did not find it a page-turner. For me personally, The Handmaid's Tale was more of a page-turner, probably because when I read it 15+ years ago it was the first dystopian novel I had read. The Testaments feels more conventional, with the three alternating narrators, and there is less world-building since the world was already created. I'd say it's not a great stand-alone book, but I felt it was smartly done and I liked that it didn't try to be more than it was.

And I stand by the statement that the final words of the book make her reason for writing this clear and add layers of meaning to the book that wouldn't have been there without it, at least for my reading of it.

Just don't expect the shock value of HT.

69karspeak
Set 19, 2019, 3:18pm

>64 japaul22: I’m SO glad you reviewed this, thanks!!

70japaul22
Set 19, 2019, 7:08pm

>69 karspeak: You're welcome! Curious - did it sway you either way as to whether you'll read it?

71NanaCC
Set 19, 2019, 7:25pm

>64 japaul22: Nice review, Jennifer. I haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale, and I’m not sure I will. I just can’t seem to get into dystopian literature.

>54 japaul22: I bought a copy of Little Fires Everywhere today. Your review convinced me that I’d like to read it. I happened to be in my local bookstore and it was just sitting there.

72avaland
Set 19, 2019, 8:16pm

Have noted your review of the Atwood and the comments that follow, BUT have not yet read any of them. I have the book here whispering to me every time I walk past it as it impatiently waits for me to tidy up my current reading. I'll come back when I've read it.

73karspeak
Set 21, 2019, 12:32am

>70 japaul22: I loved Handmaid’s Tale when I read it years ago, and the fact that you liked the sequel tipped me toward deciding to read it. If you had hated it, I might have been dissuaded.

74japaul22
Set 22, 2019, 12:10am

#60 Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

I read this for a group challenge with the 1001 books to read before you die group. The challenge was to read a book from the list that someone else hated. This was on my shelf and so I decided to give it a try. As such, I went into it with low expectations, but actually I quite liked it. It made me laugh many times.

This is a comedic telling of the life of a first-year college professor. Jim Dixon is trying to navigate school politics, get along with his boring and eccentric colleagues, cover up the fact that he knows little about his professed field of expertise - Medieval Studies, and avoid the girl he doesn't want a relationship with while trying to build a relationship with a different girl.

I found Dixon real and annoying and funny and ultimately rooted for him. I'm glad I read this and might even read some more Kingsley Amis books.

Also, I thought this was a brilliant description of waking up with a hangover:

The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-county run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.

Original publication date: 1953
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 265 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased NYRB edition
Why I read this: 1001 books group challenge, off the shelf

75thorold
Set 23, 2019, 8:21am

>74 japaul22: Nice to see that it still works, even without any context! Has it put you off madrigals?

Amis was a talented writer, but I never enjoyed his later books as much as those early ones. The 1957 film with Ian Carmichael is worth watching too, if you get a chance.

76japaul22
Set 24, 2019, 6:17pm

>75 thorold: Ha, no, if anything I'm sort of entranced by the idea of trying to sing Madrigals at a party. ;-)
Really, the book has some very funny moments!

77japaul22
Set 24, 2019, 6:23pm

#61 So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ

And next I read a short book that I expected to really like. It's written by a Senegalese woman, reflecting on her life as a woman in Africa married to a man who takes a second wife after they've been married for thirty years. When he dies suddenly, she writes "so long a letter" to her dear friend, Aissatou, reflecting on their marriages, lives as Muslim women, and the role of women in their society.

I'm not sure why, but I couldn't connect to this. The letter format didn't work for me; it seemed like an unlikely way to actually speak to a friend. And maybe it was too short with too little development for me to get into it? I'm not sure. I would expect many people love this and it's very short, so no reason not to give it a try. It just wasn't the right book for me at the moment.

Original publication date: 1980
Author’s nationality: Senegalese
Original language: French
Length: 81 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library sale purchase
Why I read this: 1001 books

78Nickelini
Set 25, 2019, 2:40am

>74 japaul22:

That sounds good -- I love the excerpt. I'll read that one day.

79japaul22
Set 27, 2019, 12:23pm

#62 The Seas by Samantha Hunt

I picked this book up on a whim on vacation and I think it will be one of my favorites of the year.

The Seas is the story of a young woman as she approaches adulthood. She lives in a small coastal town with the highest rate of alcoholics in the nation. Her father walked into the ocean and she and her mother wait for him. Her grandfather uses a printing press to create backward letters and works on his dictionary. And Jude, the 33 year old man she is in love with, is highly damaged from his war experience in Iraq. Oh, and did I mention that the narrator is a mermaid?

I know it all sounds crazy but it works so beautifully. It's smart and sad and fantastical and real. Quite a feat for a debut novel.

Original publication date: 2004
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 217 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased on vacation at local book store
Why I read this: a whim

80lisapeet
Set 27, 2019, 3:07pm

>79 japaul22: They just reissued this I think last year, and I grabbed a copy. Glad to hear good things about it.

81NanaCC
Set 29, 2019, 10:35pm

>79 japaul22: Oh, that sounds good, Jennifer. I’m adding to my wishlist.

82japaul22
Out 5, 2019, 5:17pm

#63 An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

I seem to be reading a lot of books lately where the premise is of an older, solitary woman looking back on her life. I've enjoyed them all, and this one as well. This had the added bonus of being set in Beirut, Lebanon. War and politics color the book, though they don't become its focus. Instead the focus is on a woman who is solitary but not lonely. She has her books and her translations to keep her company. 72 year old Aaliyah has translated one book a year into Arabic for the past 40 years. She tucks them away in packing boxes once she has completed them. The book is riddled with literary quotes and references, though not in a pretentious way. I liked Aaliyah and enjoyed this book.

Original publication date: 2013
Author’s nationality: American, Lebanese
Original language: English
Length: 291 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased
Why I read this: LT review

83japaul22
Out 5, 2019, 5:29pm

#64 The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A lovely little book made even more lovely by being a Persephone edition. This was my first purchase of a Persephone book and I love the size, feel, and look of these publications.

The story itself was rather predictable, but also a comforting, familiar read. Emily Fox-Seton is a wonderful person, living on a shoestring budget. She meets wealthy Lord Walderhurst who is enamored of her generous personality. They marry. At first I was surprised at how quickly this happened since I'm used to marriage being the end game of this sort of novel. Instead, the novel focuses on the fact that wealthy Lord Walderhurst is in his 50s with no direct heir. The next-in-line to inherit is Captain Osborn. His wife Hester is pregnant. They are devastated that Lord Walderhurst has married and could produce an heir of his own. When Walderhurst goes away for an extended business trip, Emily has to deal with the danger of their jealousy on her own.

I liked this. It's not remarkable in any way, but it was fun to read.

Original publication date: 1901
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 308 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased persephone edition
Why I read this: popular persephone title

84RidgewayGirl
Out 5, 2019, 11:37pm

>79 japaul22: I really enjoyed her book of short stories, The Dark Dark. I'll have to look for The Seas, because your review has me hooked.

85AlisonY
Out 7, 2019, 8:55am

>83 japaul22: lots of those Persephone editions have the comfort of a big mug of tea. I love them. They may never end up on my 'best of year' lists, but they still tick lots of boxes.

86japaul22
Out 7, 2019, 12:04pm

>84 RidgewayGirl: I think you would really like The Seas.

>85 AlisonY: That's exactly it. I'm having a stressful time at work and this book was so calming to come home to.

87japaul22
Out 13, 2019, 9:22pm

#65 Dreyer's English by Benjamin Dreyer

I want to be a copy editor when I grow up.

This book is as funny as grammar gets.

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 320 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library kindle edition - then I purchased a hard copy for my shelves and reference
Why I read this: grammar nerd

88japaul22
Out 13, 2019, 9:28pm

#66 My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

I really liked this. It's a quick read about a sister who repeatedly helps her beautiful younger sister cover up the murders of her boyfriends. It has a lighter tone than you would expect, but it's not funny as some people describe it. There are themes of jealousy, familial abuse, and loyalty explored.

I read this is two sittings and definitely recommend it.

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: Nigerian
Original language: English
Length: 240 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: borrowed
Why I read this: friend recommended it

89RidgewayGirl
Out 13, 2019, 10:39pm

>87 japaul22: This one is on the wishlist I have posted on amazon for relatives to choose gifts from. He's done some witty interviews and his twitter feed is smart and funny.

>88 japaul22: This is a deceptive book, with a lot going on under the surface. I am eager to read whatever Braithwaite writes next.

90AlisonY
Out 14, 2019, 7:32am

>88 japaul22: Braithwaite was on the panel of a women's crime event I went to at last week's literary festival. It's quite amazing how successful she has been with this first novel. I must admit the title somewhat puts me off, but given the awards and stellar reviews it's obtained I think perhaps I should read it at some point.

91NanaCC
Out 14, 2019, 11:40am

>88 japaul22: I’ve added this one to my list, Jennifer. I’ve seen it around, but wasn’t really interested until now.

92japaul22
Out 14, 2019, 11:57am

>89 RidgewayGirl:, >90 AlisonY:, >91 NanaCC: I really liked My Sister, the Serial Killer. It was a fast, engrossing read and felt very "of the moment" in a good way.

93rachbxl
Out 15, 2019, 12:08pm

>87 japaul22: I couldn't resist this one; I LOVE grammar!
>88 japaul22: And I've given in and put this one on my wishlist too.

94japaul22
Out 15, 2019, 5:48pm

#67 Oberland by Dorothy Richardson

This installment of the Pilgrimage series is basically a travelogue. Miriam goes to Oberland, Switzerland for a vacation. She stays in a boarding house and interacts with the guests. She toboggans. She ice skates. She watches people ski jump. There was one brief reference to Hypo (the married man based on H.G. Wells who propositioned her).

It was fine, but not special.

I feel like I'm beginning to see the issue with this book and why it was hard to publish and didn't gain much traction, even in literary circles. In my opinion, it really should have been published all at once. The 13 parts don't stand well on their own, even though they were written years apart. I'm going to try to continue on, reading as though the rest is one book instead of 4.

Original publication date: 1927
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 127 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased virago
Why I read this: year long project, 1001 books

95japaul22
Out 19, 2019, 11:26pm

#68 I'm Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti

This is an Italian bestseller about a little boy who stumbles upon a boy being held captive. He becomes friendly with him but the situation turns dangerous when he discovers who kidnapped this boy.

The story is simple, short, and tense but the point of view makes it more special than it would otherwise be. The voice of the young boy is very well done. The world is confined to what he can see and understand of the situation. For that reason, I understand why this novel is well-regarded, but otherwise I found it fairly forgettable.

Original publication date: 2000
Author’s nationality: Italian
Original language: Italian
Length: 200 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library hardback
Why I read this: 1001 books, group challenge

96AlisonY
Out 20, 2019, 4:17pm

>95 japaul22: It's a good few years since I read this, but I think I felt much the same as you did. In fact, I can hardly remember a thing about it, so I guess that's proof that it's forgettable as you say.

97Nickelini
Out 21, 2019, 4:11am

>95 japaul22:, >96 AlisonY:
Yep, me too. It was fine, not a difficult read or anything, but sort of ho-hum. I even gave it to my husband to read, and he had spent that same summer in Italy and even he thought the same thing.

98japaul22
Out 24, 2019, 1:02pm

#69 City of Light, City of Poison by Holly Tucker

This was a mediocre nonfiction book about a rash of poisonings that took place during the reign of Louis XIV. Tucker focuses on a police chief, Reynie, and his work to uncover the suppliers of the poisons. Most of those who used the poisons (supposedly) were untouchable since they were high-ranking members of Louis XIV's court.

There were way too many "characters" in this nonfiction book. I never connected to anyone, yet it was obvious that this was the type of nonfiction that attempts to draw you in as a novel would. Didn't work for me. The parts I liked focused on Louis XIV's various mistresses, and that was because I read the amazing book by Antonia Fraser, Love and Louis XIV, and kept remembering all the facts I learned in that book.

I'd skip it.

Original publication date: 2017
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 336 pages
Rating: 2 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library kindle
Why I read this: topic caught my eye

99japaul22
Out 31, 2019, 3:10pm

I'm quite a bit behind on both reviewing and reading, but that's because we've been having tons of fun watching the Nats win the World Series!! They are not my first team (Cubs all the way), but being local to D.C. now, we watch and attend a lot of their games. My kids are definitely Nats fans so this has been tons of fun.

Now back to reading . . . well, after Halloween tonight.

100japaul22
Nov 3, 2019, 11:24pm

#70 Memories of the Future by Siri Hustvedt

I really love Hustvedt's writing. It is challenging, perceptive, and artistic. Sometimes I would fault her for using a few too many literary and philosophical references because it sometimes alienates from the story, but I love it anyway.

This book explores a year in the life of S.H., a young woman writer who moves from Minnesota to New York to take a year off before starting her degree at Columbia. She is distracted by her neighbor who she can hear through the walls. She meets a group of friends. She is almost raped. Her year is remembered by her older self who also reads a journal that S.H. wrote in that year (I think it was 1979). The book she was working on writing is also presented in large chunks.

I really liked this, but I still think The Blazing World is her best book. I felt a little too removed from this character to really connect to this book.

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 319 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library hardback
Why I read this: love the author

101japaul22
Nov 5, 2019, 11:51pm

#71 The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

I really liked this historical fiction based in 6th century Wales. The main character is Langoureth, who is twins with Laikolen. Laikolen, in some historical accounts, is the given name of Myrddin, better known as Merlin, the wizard of Arthurian times. When Signe Pike discovered that some accounts say that Laikolen had a twin sister, Langoureth, who was a Queen, she became enamored of her story.

This is the first of a trilogy. Langoureth grows up in the Old Ways and has gifts as a healer, but her role is to be married to a future king and secure her family that way. Her twin, Laikolen, leaves to train as a Wisdom Keeper.

There is plenty of drama, a love story, and epic events are starting to unfold by the end of the book. The characters are rich and believable. Pike paints a good picture of the ancient times, especially the conflict between the Old Ways and the arrival of Christianity.

I've tried a lot of historical fiction trying to find something that appeals to me the way Sharon Kay Penman's work does. This is almost as good, the telling is too narrowly focused on Langoureth to have Penman's depth, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I definitely recommend it - I want the next two books to be published so would love to see people reading this!

Original publication date: 2018
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 518 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library hardback
Why I read this: like this kind of historical fiction

102japaul22
Nov 9, 2019, 7:20pm

#72 Dawn's Left Hand by Dorothy Richardson

After being pretty bored with the last few installments of Richardson's Pilgrimage, I thought this volume was more interesting again. Miriam is back from her trip to Oberland and London both benefits and suffers from the comparison to her trip. All the references to her experiences in Oberland made that volume a little more relevant than I initially thought when I read it.

The other major event in this volume is Miriam's consummation of her relationship with Hypo. To me it seemed like though she's not really in love with Hypo, she really wanted to experience sex and chose to have the experience with him. There are, of course, the awkward moments with Alma (Hypo's wife and Miriam's friend), as well. Set up against her relationship with Hypo is one with a new character, Amabel. Amabel is a beautiful young woman in love with Miriam. She tries hard to get Miriam to love her back and Miriam seems intrigued. I'm curious to see if this relationship goes anywhere in later volumes.

Original publication date: 1931
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 136 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased virago
Why I read this: year long project, 1001 books

103japaul22
Nov 11, 2019, 12:30pm

#73 Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

Disappearing Earth is the story of two young girls who go missing in Kamchatka and the ripple of people it effects. The setting of this book is probably the most interesting part. I knew little about Kamchatka, an isolated peninsula between Russia and Japan. It was interesting to hear a bit about the physical attributes of the peninsula and the clash of cultures between Russians and ethnic groups there.

As far as the story, I liked that too once I got used to the fact that each chapter was going to feel almost like a short story. Most of the characters end up connecting to each other somehow, but still, the book had the feel of linked short stories. Having not expected that I was a little put off at first. But the book comes together in the end and I ended the book being connected to the book and impressed with the writer.

This is a debut novel and I'm excited to read what Julia Phillips writes next.

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 256 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library hardback
Why I read this: LT buzz

104RidgewayGirl
Nov 11, 2019, 8:54pm

>103 japaul22: I had much the same reaction to Disappearing Earth as you did - at first I was disappointed at the short story format and then impressed at how she pulled it all together. The chapter about the woman who loses her dog was brilliant, I thought.

I saw Phillips speak at a book festival earlier this year and she was just lovely. The friend I'd gone with told her about her experience traveling in Russia when it was still the Soviet Union and Phillips was so interested in that, and told her that she was jealous of her. It made my friend's day.

105japaul22
Nov 12, 2019, 1:35am

#74 Confusion by Stefan Zweig

This novella explores the relationship between a young university student and his professor. The student is completely enamored of this professor's ideas and life and the professor quickly adopts him in return. He finds a flat in the same boarding house and starts spending every day with the Professor and his young wife. This novella captures a brief time period, probably only one semester, and is intense and dramatic.

I enjoyed this, but sometimes when I read a novel of this length I leave unsatisfied. I feel like there was more that could have been explored here. There's no denying, though, that Zweig's writing is excellent.

Original publication date: 1927
Author’s nationality: Austrian
Original language: German
Length: 153 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased nyrb edition
Why I read this: off the shelf

106NanaCC
Nov 16, 2019, 2:44pm

>103 japaul22: I keep wondering about this book, Jennifer. Now you have me interested. I always say I’m not really a fan of short stories, but I loved Olive Kitteridge.

107japaul22
Nov 16, 2019, 5:02pm

>106 NanaCC: I would say Disappearing Earth is less obviously connected short stories than Olive Kitteridge. It is the way I related to it, but I'm not sure every reader would get the "short story feel" from it.

108markon
Nov 16, 2019, 6:45pm

>101 japaul22: I'm going to give this one a try - I like Arthurian stories, and one with a female protagonist sounds refreshing.

>103 japaul22: Disappearing Earth is on my wait list at the library.

109japaul22
Nov 20, 2019, 8:16pm

#75 Clear Horizon by Dorothy Richardson
Volume 11 of 13

This volume feels like a summing up, in a way. Miriam is caring for her sister, Sara, and gets medical advice to leave London and relax in the country. Before that happens she closes many of her relationships. She puts an end to any idea of a relationship with Amabel, even introducing her to Michael Shatov. She also emotionally ends things with Hypo.

I was sad to see her say goodbye to her dental office job. Really, her experience there has been some of my favorite parts of the book.

Clear Horizon was the last of the 13 parts to be published on its own. Apparently it was barely noticed when it was published. The last two volumes were added to full volume editions.

On I go . . .

#76 Dimple Hill by Dorothy Richardson
Now Miriam is in the countryside, living a boarding house with Quakers, the Roscorlas. She visits some old friends and tries to regain her health (I think?). It feels like a move to combat depression. She greatly admires the way the Roscorlas live and she is enamored with the countryside.

We also see that her introduction of Amabel and Michael Shatov in Clear Horizon has led to their marriage. At the end of the book she gets an invitation back to Switzerland and decides to go.

I'm wishing the book had ended with Clear Horizon, it seemed a more natural closing. But on I go to the final installment. I expect to finish today or tomorrow!

110japaul22
Nov 21, 2019, 3:09pm

#77 March Moonlight by Dorothy Richardson

I've done it. I've finished Pilgrimage. Overall thoughts to come later.

March Moonlight is the last installment of Richardson's 13 novel Pilgrimage. In it, there's more movement for Miriam. She begins at the Quaker Roscorla household. She is writing again, with intent. The she moves on to a convent for a change of scenery and she meets a man there who she considers marrying. Hypo gives his troubling easy consent. The book ends with her contemplating Amabel and motherhood. It's really no ending at all as Richardson didn't view it as the end of the book.

I'll have lots to say about this work as a whole later, but for now I'm reveling in actually finishing all 2110 pages.

111thorold
Nov 21, 2019, 4:19pm

>110 japaul22: Congratulations :-)

112japaul22
Nov 21, 2019, 5:35pm

>111 thorold: Thank you!

113japaul22
Nov 21, 2019, 5:36pm

Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson

Pilgrimage is a 13 volume, 2110 page novel published between 1915 and 1967. From what I’ve found it is currently out of print, but fairly easy to access through used copies of Virago Modern Classics which published the work in 4 volumes. Originally, each volume was published individually until Dimple Hill, the 12th volume. It and the final installment, March Moonlight, were only published in full volume sets.

Pilgrimage is highly autobiographical. It follows the interior thoughts and experiences of Miriam Henderson, a young woman starting out in the world. I believe it covers her life from about age 17-30. Miriam leaves her home when her family falls on hard times financially to become a teacher in Germany. She teaches in different locations for the first few novels and then becomes a secretary at a dental office in London. While in London, she truly finds her confidence in being an independent and single woman. She explores the city and finds a deep connection to the city itself. As the book progresses, she develops her skill as a writer, begins and ends relationships with several men, and travels, gaining a wide array of experience.

The plot in the novel is buried deep within Miriam’s experience. Her reactions and thoughts are always primary, sometimes (often) to the point that the plot is undiscernible. This can be frustrating. Characters come and go sometimes without introduction and even large life events aren’t spelled out. Both her mother’s death and her first sexual experience I had to go back pages later and say, wait - what???

As such, this is not an easy reading experience. The book meanders and definitely loses its way, especially, I felt, later in the work. I think that by about half way through these novels, Richardson knew NO ONE was reading anymore and was truly writing for herself. I wonder if anyone was editing at all. Also, the book is unfinished which feels frustrating at the end of 2000 pages. I’m not sure Richardson ever intended to stop writing Miriam’s life experience.

All that said, I still highly recommend reading this. I thought a lot of the writing and ideas were truly groundbreaking. I’ve never read anything quite like this, and I’ve read Proust, Woolf, Faulkner, some of Joyce so I did have plenty to compare it to as far as interior, stream of consciousness writing. At her best, Richardson writes beautifully and intelligently, with great insight into the female experience. There is a definite feminist slant to her writing. There are certain scenes (Miriam exploring London on bicycle) that I will never forget.

If I were to be honest, I think you can get an excellent feel for Richardson’s talent and importance by reading the first 4 novels in this series of 13. I recommend those without reservation. And if you are a completist like I am, then by all means, read the whole thing. But I definitely recommend trying this neglected novel. I think it deserves to be read.

114japaul22
Nov 21, 2019, 6:02pm

The following is my collected reviews for each novel comprising Pilgrimage. It is mainly for me to have in one place. They've all been posted earlier.

Volume 1 Pointed Roofs by Dorothy Richardson

Glutton for punishment that I am, I've decided to read Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage this year. This is a 13 part 2000 page semi-autobiographical novel told completely from the protagonist, Miriam's, point of view. I've decided to count each part as a book for my thread this year. Richardson is viewed as the first author (before Proust or Woolf) to attempt a stream of consciousness style. Her book didn't really catch as much attention as some think it should have considering the innovative style. One reason for that may have been that publishing a pro-German book in England 1915 just wasn't going to go over well.

Pointed Roofs introduces us to a young Miriam. She is seventeen and her family has fallen on hard times financially, so she decides to go to Germany as a governess to earn her keep. She ends up in a situation where she is living with a handful of other girls in a boardinghouse and she is responsible for teaching English. This mainly seems to consist of her listening to the German girls read in English and conversing with them in English. In between we hear Miriam's thoughts about living with so many women (not fun), wondering about her family back in England, cultural observations about Germany, and her lack of teaching skills.

I like Miriam. She seems to be the sort of person that is hard to get along with. She's sort of stand-offish and opinionated and not one to open up. But her voice and observations strike me as honest and authentic and I'm enjoying getting to know her.

Volume 2 - Backwater by Dorothy Richardson

Backwater is the second part of the 13 that make up her book, Pilgrimage. In this part, Miriam has come back to England after being a governess in a German school for young women. Now she is teaching in a school for younger girls, hired by the Misses Perne, two sisters. Miriam thinks about many topics that a teenage girl would - attraction to young men and feeling attractive to them, ideas about religion, reading novels late at night. She also finds out her mother needs surgery and their family can no longer afford the nice house they've been living in. So she needs to find a job that pays more than her current one. She resigns from her job and hopes to find a job as live-in governess to a wealthy family.

I liked this installment even more than the first. I'm getting used to Richardson's writing and finding a lot of insight and beauty in it. Looking forward to continuing on.

Volume 3 - Honeycomb by Dorothy Richardson
Honeycomb is the third volume in Richardson's Pilgrimage series. In this, Miriam attempts to make more money by being a governess in the wealthy home of the Corries. She is just responsible for the Corrie children and in her considerable free time, she reads, ponders life, and is introduced to the scandalous society of the Corries. She meets divorced couples and hears about Oscar Wilde and his trial for homosexuality. So her world seems both wider and smaller in this volume as she is introduced to a wider berth of society but is also confined to a country house.

I'm finding it interesting to think about her different teaching circumstances so far - in Germany as a companion to speak English with girls basically her age, in England at a boarding school with middle class girls, and now at an English estate with only one family of children. Her interactions with the outside world differs greatly in these three situations and of course the teaching itself is different as well.

In this novel, I felt like I lost Miriam's voice a little when she got so involved with thinking about the Corries and their friends. But then the last section completely turned that around. She goes home for the summer and two of her sisters marry and then she spends time at a seaside resort with her mother. In this section, Miriam's voice felt strong, authentic, and honest again to me.

I've now finished what is generally grouped as the first volume of this four volume/13 novel work. I'm very much enjoying it and I'm glad to have started this as my project for the year.

Volume 4 - The Tunnel by Dorothy Richardson

I feel like Richardson has really hit her stride in this 4th installment of Pilgrimage. Miriam's mother has died and she has struck out on her own, away from the traditional governess scene. Instead, Miriam gets a "room of her own" (yes she uses this term a decade before Woolf) in London and works as a secretary for a dental office. The descriptions of her office work are amusing as she tries to keep on top of everything. But, the real interest here is Miriam discovering London, going to concerts, and reading avidly. She wanders and bikes!! around London, meeting new people and observing the city. In her musings a streak of feminism is becoming more and more prevalent. She notices the limiting expectations on women and the differences between the sexes.

I was so struck in this novel that Virginia Woolf must have been influenced by this work. Miriam being out in London reminded me of Clarissa Dalloway and the importance of Miriam's own space both within her flat and in claiming London is also a prevalent them in Woolf's later work.

Richardson has come up with a unique style. It is all Miriam's point of view and to keep that narrow focus characters flit in and out, sometimes without much explanation of who they are. I think this was Richardson's way of keeping Miriam the focus, but it does make for challenging reading.

I'm really impressed with this work and so glad to be reading it.

Volume 5 - Interim by Dorothy Richardson

In the 5th novel of Richardson's Pilgrimage, Miriam mainly observes others. Particularly noticeable was her rendering of different accents and pronunciations of the people she meets. This was spot on and amusing. There are new boarders in the house with her that provide a lot of this observation.

Also, her sister leaves her governess job with the Greens for a job in the city and her own apartment, presumably following in Miriam's footsteps. This doesn't work out for her, though, and she's back to governess-ing by the end of the novel. I'm sure this gives Miriam some personal satisfaction, that she can survive in London on her own despite it not being easy.

Miriam also gets her own bike - exciting! - and even more freedom.

Volume 6 - Deadlock by Dorothy Richardson

I've started VMC's third volume of Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage. It begins with the 6th novel, Deadlock. This novel centers on Miriam's budding relationship with a Russian man, Mr. Shatov. They have long philosophical discussions, introduce each other to great writers in their respective languages, and explore London together. The romance is slow to develop and then suddenly they are in crisis. As I've come to expect with Richardson's writing, the actual crisis is barely described - it seems these moments are too intense for her to write about with any amount of detail. But from subsequent discussions, I believe the conflict was him asking her to marry him and revealing that he's Jewish and them not being able to see a way forward with their relationship with their different religion and culture. But I think there could have been something else as well that he revealed to her that she never reveals to the reader, at least that I could find.

In addition to this relationship, there are a few episodes with former characters. Some of the other boarders are revisited. Miriam is also fired from her dentist office secretary position after speaking her mind too heatedly. This happens about half way through the book and honestly, I was wondering if she was even still working there because her work life isn't touched on at all. And then suddenly she's fired! It seemed that she might have been rehired, but then the topic is dropped so I wasn't completely sure. She also goes to visit her sisters - I really enjoyed this scene. Eve has escaped her governess position and opened a shop. Harriet is married to Gerald and they are unhappy but staying together for their kids.

Importantly in this volume, Miriam begins to write and finds she's good at it. Her first foray is in translating a French work. This success gives her a lot of confidence. This development of a real talent I assume will continue in subsequent volumes.

What stuck out to me in this book is that Miriam has become more vocal. In previous novels she is opinionated but the "discussions" mainly occur through her interior monologue. In this book she states her opinion, often to Mr. Shatov, but also at work, which gets her in trouble, and to her family. I liked seeing this change in Miriam. She's growing up, exploring how to vocalize her opinions, and using others reactions to frame her own beliefs and grow. Her opinions on feminism, particularly, are maturing and she's able to voice some of her feelings about life as an English woman.

Volume 7 - Revolving Lights by Dorothy Richardson
The 7th novel in Richardson's Pilgrimage left me a little cold. I feel like I really should have started a character list at the beginning of reading this book. There were several characters who return after absences and I had a hard time putting them in context.

The main action is this book is a vacation to visit Miriam's boarding school friend, Alma. There she meets a man named Hypo and slowly grows closer to him. There are some great moments, including the group deciding to sleep under the stars, and some philosophical discussions, often about the differing roles of men and women. Miriam also continues with her writing, branching out from translating. And the ending was intriguing - a note from Hypo asking "when can I see you? Just to talk."

After writing this, I visited my trusted (only) source I've found for any sort of commentary on Pilgrimage and I found that Hypo is actually married to Alma and is H.G. Wells. So now I know!

Volume 8 - The Trap by Dorothy Richardson
This is one of the shortest installments in Richardson's Pilgrimage. Not much happens and I'm finally getting a bit bored. Definitely hoping that the final volumes get back to what I loved about the first 6.

In The Trap, Miriam moves out of her single room in a boardinghouse into a shared flat with Miss Holland. At first they get along well and Miriam seems to enjoy her new living situation, but in the end she misses her solitude. There is also a New Years Eve party where she interacts with people her own age, including some young men. (I think Hypo was there, this time referred to as Wells)

I don't need something to "happen" since that isn't what this book is about, but I feel like I need a stronger episode where Miriam grows in some way. I haven't felt that much in The Trap or the previous volume, Revolving Lights. I'll take a break for a month or so and then return for the final volume which contains the final 5 volumes. I can do it! Right . . . ???

Volume 9 - Oberland by Dorothy Richardson

This installment of the Pilgrimage series is basically a travelogue. Miriam goes to Oberland, Switzerland for a vacation. She stays in a boarding house and interacts with the guests. She toboggans. She ice skates. She watches people ski jump. There was one brief reference to Hypo (the married man based on H.G. Wells who propositioned her).

It was fine, but not special.

I feel like I'm beginning to see the issue with this book and why it was hard to publish and didn't gain much traction, even in literary circles. In my opinion, it really should have been published all at once. The 13 parts don't stand well on their own, even though they were written years apart. I'm going to try to continue on, reading as though the rest is one book instead of 4.

Volume 10 - Dawn's Left Hand by Dorothy Richardson

After being pretty bored with the last few installments of Richardson's Pilgrimage, I thought this volume was more interesting again. Miriam is back from her trip to Oberland and London both benefits and suffers from the comparison to her trip. All the references to her experiences in Oberland made that volume a little more relevant than I initially thought when I read it.

The other major event in this volume is Miriam's consummation of her relationship with Hypo. To me it seemed like though she's not really in love with Hypo, she really wanted to experience sex and chose to have the experience with him. There are, of course, the awkward moments with Alma (Hypo's wife and Miriam's friend), as well. Set up against her relationship with Hypo is one with a new character, Amabel. Amabel is a beautiful young woman in love with Miriam. She tries hard to get Miriam to love her back and Miriam seems intrigued. I'm curious to see if this relationship goes anywhere in later volumes.

Volume 11 - Clear Horizon by Dorothy Richardson

This volume feels like a summing up, in a way. Miriam is caring for her sister, Sara, and gets medical advice to leave London and relax in the country. Before that happens she closes many of her relationships. She puts an end to any idea of a relationship with Amabel, even introducing her to Michael Shatov. She also emotionally ends things with Hypo.

I was sad to see her say goodbye to her dental office job. Really, her experience there has been some of my favorite parts of the book.

Clear Horizon was the last of the 13 parts to be published on its own. Apparently it was barely noticed when it was published. The last two volumes were added to full volume editions.

On I go . . .

Volume 12 - Dimple Hill by Dorothy Richardson
Now Miriam is in the countryside, living a boarding house with Quakers, the Roscorlas. She visits some old friends and tries to regain her health (I think?). It feels like a move to combat depression. She greatly admires the way the Roscorlas live and she is enamored with the countryside.

We also see that her introduction of Amabel and Michael Shatov in Clear Horizon has led to their marriage. At the end of the book she gets an invitation back to Switzerland and decides to go.

I'm wishing the book had ended with Clear Horizon, it seemed a more natural closing. But on I go to the final installment. I expect to finish today or tomorrow!

Volume 13 - March Moonlight is the last installment of Richardson's 13 novel Pilgrimage. In it, there's more movement for Miriam. She begins at the Quaker Roscorla household. She is writing again, with intent. The she moves on to a convent for a change of scenery and she meets a man there who she considers marrying. Hypo gives his troubling easy consent. The book ends with her contemplating Amabel and motherhood. It's really no ending at all as Richardson didn't view it as the end of the book.

I'll have lots to say about this work as a whole later, but for now I'm reveling in actually finishing all 2110 pages.

115baswood
Nov 21, 2019, 9:40pm

Great to read your reviews of the Richardson Pilgrimage. An important modernist work which I hope to get to some day. It's amazing that it's now out of print.

116rhian_of_oz
Nov 21, 2019, 1:51am

I certainly admire your persistence/stamina!

117thorold
Nov 22, 2019, 6:41am

It all sounds really interesting, both the style and the period/setting (HG Wells and all the rest). But slightly alarming to take on yet another monster... I’m definitely thinking about it, though!

118japaul22
Nov 22, 2019, 11:42am

>115 baswood: Barry, it was barely read when it was published either from what I've seen, especially the later volumes. In some ways, we're lucky it continued to be published at all.

>116 rhian_of_oz: Thank you! Most of it was really enjoyable, so by the time I got to the longer stretches where I was bored I was too invested in Miriam to give up.

>117 thorold: I would love to see you read it! Most of the volumes/novels were only 150-200 pages, so if you look at it that way, it's not that overwhelming. You read so much in a year that I definitely think you could work it in.

119AlisonY
Nov 22, 2019, 1:31pm

Terrific review. Pilgrimage sounds fabulous, but I don't think I could commit to reading all volumes. But never say never...!

120japaul22
Nov 22, 2019, 3:15pm

>119 AlisonY: If you think of it as 13 short novels it's not as bad. Especially since there's no real ending or summing up, I think there is no pressure to read all 13. But they are unique enough in novel-writing to give at least a few volumes a try!

121thorold
Nov 22, 2019, 3:28pm

>118 japaul22: Well, for better or worse, the four Viragos are winging their way towards my TBR pile. For some reason there’s a plentiful supply of Vols. 1,2 and 4, but Vol.3 was harder to find (and cost as much as the others put together...). Such are the vagaries of Internet secondhand book-buying.

122japaul22
Nov 22, 2019, 4:30pm

123dchaikin
Nov 22, 2019, 6:29pm

Wow, congrats on finishing and thanks for all these reviews. Fascinating stuff and I love having your perspective on the entire work.

(Also, as I’m catching up, congrats to the Nats, from an Astros fan. I couldn’t watch game 7, I was in Kuala Lumpur and helping give a presentation during the game (!!) anxiously watching it slip away through surreptitious updates on my watch.)

124japaul22
Nov 23, 2019, 1:34pm

>123 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan, it was overall a great reading experience. And a fun year-long project.

Sorry you missed the last world series game! It was a really fun series. My kids are so spoiled though - their teams are the Nats and the Eagles and they've already seen both win their respective titles. As a Cubs/Bears fan, I think this is insane.

125japaul22
Nov 23, 2019, 1:47pm

#78 Butcher's Crossing by John Williams
John Williams is such a good writer. He has taken a subject I should have been revolted by and turned it into a book I would highly recommend.

Butcher's Crossing is a small western town on the brink of great things in the mid 1800s. Will Andrews arrives there from his comfortable life in Boston looking for an adventure. He meets a man named Miller who has been waiting a decade for someone to fund his next great adventure, traveling back to a Colorado valley where he saw thousands of buffalo ripe for the slaughter to gain their skins.

The two set out with a skinner, Schneider, and a wagon driver/cook, Charley Hoge. They have a tough journey out there, but arrive to find the promised herd. What follows is multiple chapters of details of the slaughter. It will turn your stomach. And then you realize that this is a story of greed and obsession. This greed has consequences. The men get snowed in to the valley for the entire winter. The second half of the book answers whether all of their work will be rewarded or if the trip is a bust.

I really liked this, despite the hunting. In fact, I thought the hunting scenes were an honest look at what could have driven white men to slaughter an entire species. Williams doesn't trivialize or sanction his characters' actions.

I only have one novel left to read by John Williams and I'm sad about it.

Original publication date: 1960
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 274 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased nyrb edition
Why I read this: off the shelf

126lisapeet
Nov 23, 2019, 7:22pm

Those Dorothy Richardsons look cool, and they weren't on my radar. I don't think I'd commit to reading the whole series, but I'm definitely putting her on my watch list to see if one or two may show up in my travels...though sadly NYC's street booksellers, whom I'd think would be the best bet to find her, have been booted off the sidewalk—at least toward upper Manhattan, where I tend to be more. But there's always the library sale, or the odd used bookstore I sometimes find myself in.

127japaul22
Nov 23, 2019, 7:23pm

>126 lisapeet: Do keep an eye out! Viragos (who published Pilgrimage) are easy to spot with their forest green covers.

128RidgewayGirl
Nov 23, 2019, 8:58pm

>125 japaul22: I picked up a copy of Butcher's Crossing after reading Stoner. Thanks for reminding me of it.

129lisapeet
Nov 23, 2019, 10:08pm

>127 japaul22: That's good to know, thanks! Interestingly, my library has an e version of Pointed Roofs available to own. So, what the hey, downloaded for a rainy day.

130AlisonY
Nov 25, 2019, 11:36am

>125 japaul22: I was looking forward to this review, as I loved Stoner but was on the fence about whether the blurb on Butcher's Crossing appealed or not. I think you've tipped me towards reading it.

131japaul22
Nov 27, 2019, 12:04am

#79 The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
I really enjoyed reading this book. Well, enjoyed is never quite the right word for Hardy, since his plots are always full of miscommunication, bad luck, and bad behavior, but nevertheless I always find his books compelling.

This one follows the consequences of a drunken young man, Henchard, auctioning off his wife and daughter to a stranger. Yep, really. And she goes off with a sailor. When Henchard wakes up, he vaguely recalls what he has done. When he can't find his wife and daughter, he swears off alcohol and starts life anew. About 20 years down the road, his wife and daughter show up in the town where he has risen to being the mayor. As in all Hardy books, nothing goes easily, several characters die, and it isn't exactly a happy ending (though pretty close as far as his books go!).

Hardy's novels are very plot driven, so I have a hard time writing too much about the book for fear of giving away the plot surprises. Suffice to say I recommend this among his books I've read so far.

Original publication date: 1886
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 308 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle freebie
Why I read this: 1001 books

132Nickelini
Nov 28, 2019, 2:27am

>131 japaul22:

Wow, really! Okay then.

On the list it goes ....

133kac522
Nov 29, 2019, 5:58am

>131 japaul22: I re-read this a couple of years ago, and I was struck with how Hardy makes the story seem from a very bygone era, when in fact, the story is set in the 1840s, only 40 years before he wrote it. Also this reading I paid attention to the contrast between Henchard (the old guard, so to speak) and Farfrae, representing the new ways.

134thorold
Editado: Nov 29, 2019, 12:50pm

>122 japaul22: Pilgrimage 1, 2 and 4 just arrived, looking suitably pre-loved. And I've clearly got to read something off the TBR in in the next few days, otherwise there won't be room for 3 when it comes...

>131 japaul22: Have you seen the glorious 1978 BBC TV version with Alan Bates and Anne Stallybrass?

I seem to be in a pattern of (re-)reading a Hardy novel at Christmas each year with the best intentions of carrying on and reading more, but so far it's always been the next Christmas by the time I get back to him. Maybe I should reread the Mayor this year...

135japaul22
Dez 1, 2019, 12:36pm

#80 The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung

The Tenth Muse sets up two myths that form the crux of the life struggle of mathematician, Katharine. The tenth muse is a Greek myth about the youngest girl among ten sister muses who decides to give up her immortality in order to have her own voice instead of inspiring others. And Kwan-Yin, in a Chinese myth, gives up all of her powers and gifts to benefit others who need her help. These myths are subtly woven in to the life story of Katharine.

Katharine has a different childhood, growing up in the 1950s, than the typical midwestern girl. She is extremely gifted at mathematics to the point of alienating her fellow students and even teachers. Her parents are a mystery. Her father was a war hero in WWII and her mother is Asian and obviously struggling with some internal trauma. Katharine makes it through her childhood and goes off to college, the only woman in the mathematics program at Purdue. From there, we experience her struggles coming into her own, battling sexism, stumbling upon the secrets of her parents, and ultimately exploring her brilliance as a mathematician.

I REALLY loved this book. The voice of Katharine really spoke to me. The writing is excellent and deep. I haven't seen many reviews of this on LT, but I highly recommend this new book. It is Catherine Chung's second book and I'm now very interested in reading her first. I would be curious to hear from someone well-versed in advanced math theorems to hear if the math writing is realistic. To me it was interesting and exciting.

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 286 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library hardback
Why I read this: read a review somewhere that caught my eye

136dchaikin
Dez 1, 2019, 2:59am

nice review, Jennifer. Noting. I'm not familiar with the title. (If I google, it does come up on several 2019 best lists, albeit kind of obscure ones)

137RidgewayGirl
Dez 1, 2019, 3:19am

>135 japaul22: I've run across this novel, but hadn't heard anything about it. Now I'm hoping to run across it again soon as I'll definitely pick it up now.

138AlisonY
Dez 2, 2019, 11:53am

>131 japaul22: I just love The Mayor of Casterbridge. It was one of the first books I read the year I first joined LT, and I remember that it made me cry. I'm not a re-reader of books, but that one I will have to read again at some stage.

139lisapeet
Editado: Dez 2, 2019, 12:05pm

>138 AlisonY: Hmm, maybe that will be my Hardy reread. So much stuff I absorbed obliviously as a teenager that I'd like to revisit in my somewhat more self-aware middle age.

I also have The Tenth Muse on my pile, given to me by a friend whose taste I share, so I'm looking forward to that one.

140japaul22
Dez 2, 2019, 1:46pm

>138 AlisonY: I also surprised myself tearing up at the end of Mayor of Casterbridge.

>136 dchaikin: I know I saw it on a list somewhere - it might have been reviewed in the Washington Post when it came out.

>137 RidgewayGirl: I hope you do run across it - it was really very good.

>138 AlisonY: The Tenth Muse is definitely the sort of book that makes a good recommendation. I think it would appeal to a fairly wide audience. It has enough in it that is different to make it special, but it is also an easy book to read and get sucked into.

141japaul22
Dez 12, 2019, 5:34pm

Behind on both reading and reviewing. December . . .

#81 Maybe you Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Two of my "real life" friends recommended this so I gave it a try. It's a sort of memoir by a therapist who goes to therapy after a bad breakup. It is an interesting look at both sides of therapy, but it was sad (the descriptions of some of her patients' troubles) and very personal - a little too personal for my taste.

3 stars

142japaul22
Dez 15, 2019, 1:03am

#82 Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

This is a fascinating nonfiction account of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. It details the lead-up to the disaster and the combination of Soviet culture/politics and rushed science, construction, and training that contributed to the event. The book also deals extensively with the attempt to contain the radiation afterwards and the impact it had on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

There is a lot of detail and science about the reactor itself and some about the physics of how the reactor worked. I thought the whole thing was really well done. There was enough detail to satisfy people who would want that (I was interested but admit to still not really understanding anything but the surface explanation of how a nuclear reactor works - and doesn't), but it didn't overwhelm the personal and cultural story of the event.

Highly recommended.

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 560 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library kindle
Why I read this: LT review I think

143AlisonY
Dez 16, 2019, 8:20am

>142 japaul22: I really fancy reading this. There is a Chernobyl documentary that everyone has been raving about this past year, but it's only available through one of the cable providers that I'm not with so I can't watch it. Gutted!

144japaul22
Dez 16, 2019, 1:16pm

>143 AlisonY: I know the show you're talking about but I haven't seen it either. This book was great because it was detailed and thorough but accessible for someone like me who is completely unversed in any sort of nuclear knowledge. I think it would appeal to a wide audience.

145japaul22
Dez 18, 2019, 5:22pm

#83 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

****spoilers abound!****

This is my second reread as an adult of this childhood favorite. When I reread it back in 2010, I was so disappointed. I found it preachy and even though I remembered that Jo and Laurie don't end up together, I thought it was so, so wrong.

This time around, I went in with lowered expectations and was pleasantly surprised. I still found it sentimental and a little too obvious with the moral lessons, but I was prepared so it didn't bother me as much. In terms of form, I noticed that each chapter is a complete scene and there aren't cliff-hangers at the end of chapters. Also, I was a little tiny bit less troubled that Jo and Laurie don't get together. I was really watching for how Alcott was going to convince me of this and I found it a little better done than I thought. You know, I think it's less that I want Jo and Laurie together than that I really don't like the Professor as a match for Jo. He always strikes me as a father-figure and Jo needs an equal! Anyway, I will continue to consider this book a favorite even though there's actually plenty wrong with it because it just has such a strong, positive, nostalgia for me.

I'm looking forward to seeing the new movie that comes out here in the states on Christmas Day. Hopefully I'll find a time over our winter break to get to the theater. From what I saw in the trailer, this take on the book has a pretty strong feminist slant which is definitely not in the book but I might enjoy it anyway. If nothing else, the costuming looks lovely.

Original publication date: 1868
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 560 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: kindle freebie
Why I read this: reread, movie coming out

146rhian_of_oz
Dez 19, 2019, 3:58pm

>145 japaul22: *So* preachy.

147rocketjk
Dez 19, 2019, 5:48pm

>145 japaul22: "Why I read this: reread, movie coming out"



And then of course there is the 1933 movie version. The bio/memoir about Katherine Hepburn relates that Hepburn's turn as Jo was one of the real jumping off points in her career.

148AlisonY
Dez 20, 2019, 8:44am

>147 rocketjk: I bet she's fantastic in it. Black and white movies are so rarely on TV these days and I really miss them. I feel like my kids are missing out too by not being exposed to them. I used to love the old movies as a kid, but children nowadays seem to need everything to be so current and "now".

149rocketjk
Dez 20, 2019, 5:58pm

>148 AlisonY: I know what you mean and agree, although, at least around here, occasionally a "retro" fad does rush through.

150japaul22
Dez 21, 2019, 10:31pm

#84 The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell

I'm having a streak of "preachy" books . . .

This one is about the copper mines in the UP of Michigan and the workers' efforts to unionize. They are led and prodded to strike by Annie Clements, leader of the Women's Auxiliary. It is a group largely made up of immigrants, trying to achieve safer working conditions (men die weekly in the mines), shorter work days, and higher pay. The mining company is led by Joe McNaughton. He has set up a town with much nicer conditions for his workers than many other companies would do, but his power has definitely gone to his head and he will suffer no complaining. He seems so close-minded and cold-hearted that he was hard to believe, but the author's note suggests that she, at least, does believe it to be a true portrait.

The 9 month strike ends in a true disaster that I didn't know was part of this story, though I know I'd heard of it somewhere. 73 people, mainly children, die when a false alarm of fire is called in a packed second story hall where a Christmas Eve party is being held. One child trips on a 24 step staircase and the giant stampede to escape the room results in those 73 people piling up on the stairs and suffocating to death. What a horrific story and so hard to imagine.

The crux of the book is a polemic against the evils of putting capitalism over the rights of workers and is a bit heavy-handed. Luckily the characters are also strongly drawn. I ended up liking this quite a bit, but there were stretches where I got a little bored. Kept having the thought, "yes, I know, I agree, the workers deserve a better life - move on"!

Anyway, this was my first book by Mary Doria Russell who gets a lot of love on LT and I would like to read more.

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 339 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library hardback
Why I read this: LT reviews

151japaul22
Dez 24, 2019, 12:10pm

#85 The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes

It's impossible to review this book without giving away an important reveal that happens about a quarter of the way through the book. Let's just say this is excellent noir fiction with important cultural observations about America. I highly recommend it.

Original publication date: 1963
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 237 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased nyrb
Why I read this: LT reviews, nyrb off the shelf, litsy group read

152japaul22
Dez 25, 2019, 3:17pm

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

We are having a relaxing day of opening presents, over-eating, and watching the kids play on their new Nintendo Switch. Had to take my 6 year old to the ER last night for strep throat, but the penicillin works fast and he's so much better today for Christmas!

My favorite present so far is a 6 month subscription to Persephone books! I get to pick those out, so if anyone has any favorites from that publisher let me know! I only own The Home-Maker and The Making of a Marchioness so far.

153kac522
Dez 25, 2019, 6:19pm

Happy Holidays to you! What a lovely gift--I've only read a handful of Persephones, but I loved two, both set during WWII: Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski and Good Evening, Mrs Craven by Mollie Panter-Downes.

154japaul22
Dez 27, 2019, 6:48pm

>153 kac522: Thank you! I'm trying desperately to narrow down my persephone choices.

And speaking of Persephone titles . . .

#86 The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
I loved this 1920s book that flips the typical man/woman roles on its head. The Knapps are a family of five struggling to get by. Lester, the father, is hopeless at getting along at work, constantly making errors and not progressing at all. Eva, the mother, runs a beautifully functioning household on her husband's meager salary, but is constantly slaving away and feeling stifled by her housework and her needy children. Everyone in the family has healthy problems and their youngest child, Stephen, is acknowledged by all their acquaintances as a terror, despite Eva's excellent mothering.

Then all is flipped on its head when an accident leads to a role reversal, Eva going out to work and Lester staying home to mind the kids. Though all feel sorry for them, they end up flourishing in these circumstances. But what will happen if all goes back to "normal"?

This book powerfully examines society's expectations for men and women and what happens when those expectations just do not fit. I loved it.

Original publication date: 1924
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 269 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: purchased persephone
Why I read this: LT review (thanks Simone!)

155AlisonY
Dez 29, 2019, 2:53pm

I've meant to get back to Dorothy Whipple from Persephone. I enjoyed Someone at a Distance when I read it a few years back.

Have you read any Katherine Mansfield? Her short stories are supposed to be excellent, and Persephone carry some of her titles (I've not tried her myself - I almost picked up one of the collections in the secondhand store before Christmas, but the copy was dirty and scummy so I couldn't quite bring myself to buy it).

156japaul22
Dez 29, 2019, 1:47am

>155 AlisonY: I haven't read any Dorothy Whipple and she is one of the Persephone authors that I would like to try. I've read Katherine Mansfield's collection of stories title The Garden Party, or something similar. I remember liking them but I'm not a huge short story fan generally.

157japaul22
Dez 29, 2019, 1:53am

#87 Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

"Remember you must die" is a translation of memento mori and is the phrase that a group of elderly people is hearing from an anonymous phone caller. They respond to this is different ways, but they are all at the time of life where "remember you must die" is truly around the corner.

The characters in this book are in their 80s and 90s. As such, they've had plenty of time, decades!, to misbehave, fight, and fall in love. Muriel Spark explores their interactions with humor and realism. There is a certain amount of looking back, but they are still actively living their lives regardless of their state of health, something I appreciated.

In this book, Spark didn't surprise me quite as much as she usually does. It's a good book, but not my favorite of hers.

Original publication date: 1959
Author’s nationality: British
Original language: English
Length: 223 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: library book
Why I read this: 1001 books

158japaul22
Dez 30, 2019, 6:42pm

#88 No Stopping Us Now: The Adventures of Older Women in American History by Gail Collins

This was ok but not great. Collins does a survey of how "older" women have been treated by society and how they've viewed themselves from colonial times to the present. As with any book trying to cast such a wide net, she only touches the surface of the issues. Really, once she got to about the 1950s I lost interest. There wasn't enough depth to tell me anything I didn't already know. I was also annoyed that her focus was almost exclusively on women in politics or entertainment.

This was sort of a gag gift from a friend of mine. We are both in our 40s now and joke about the start of aging. So it was fun, but I wouldn't really recommend it.

Original publication date: 2019
Author’s nationality: American
Original language: English
Length: 422 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars
Format/Where I acquired the book: gift
Why I read this: gift, off the shelf

159japaul22
Dez 30, 2019, 6:59pm

And that wraps up my 2019 reading! It's been a very good year of reading. I read 88 books and about 30,000 pages. That's roughly 84 pages a day and has been my average for several years now.

I read 18 books from the 1001 books to read before you die list. I had hoped to read 20, but I did finish Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson and at 2000+ pages, I’ll let that round me up to “20”! I also reread 5 books and read lots of books off of my shelves. I read 16 nonfiction books. All in all an excellent year.

Next year you can find me in Club Read here http://www.librarything.com/topic/314543
And in the Category Challenge here http://www.librarything.com/topic/313228

My favorites
Best Classics:
Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
*The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Best Audiobooks:
Becoming by Michelle Obama (read by the author)
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Best New-ish Books:
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
*The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
7 deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
*History. A Mess. by Sigrun Palsdottir
The Body Lies by Jo Baker
*The Seas by Samantha Hunt
The Lost Queen by Signe Pike
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung

Best Nonfiction:
Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston
Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer
Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higgenbotham

*really, you should read these!