May 2017

I love May! Not only is it my birthday month, but I love it when the weather starts to get warmer. Here are my May reads:

1.Burial Rites – Hannah Kent

After reading The Good People earlier this year, I wanted to go back and read Hannah Kent’s debut novel Burial Rites. This is historical fiction set in Iceland in the 1800s, which is a place I don’t think I read about before, although as a pair to this book I have Sarah Moss’s memoir Strangers in Iceland  lined up to read soon where I’ll hopefully learn more about the country and its history. It focuses on a woman called Agnes who has been charged with murder and is awaiting execution. Although I wouldn’t describe the novel as particularly plot-heavy, it was gripping in the sense of wondering if Agnes will suffer this fate or if the verdict will change. I thought that the book was very atmospheric, although I do think that The Good People was a slightly stronger novel, and this makes me wonder if this is due to the writer’s development. However, I would still like to read more of Kent’s work in the future.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

2. The Power – Naomi Alderman

I picked The Power for my next read as I’m working my way through the Bailey’s shortlist,  and I was surprised by how different it was to the other novels I’ve read so far from the shortlist, which were all historical fiction. It is set in the future at a time where women discover that they hold an electrical force which makes them more powerful than men. I enjoyed the multiple perspectives and the way it took place in different parts of the world which gave the feeling of the force spreading, but I found some parts of it just too bizarre and hard to follow. I think this book would be better understood as a pair with The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood, who I understand mentored Alderman during the writing of this novel. I have put it onto my TBR list!

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

3. Into The Water – Paula Hawkins

I bought Into The Water as soon as it was released, which is Hawkins’s second novel following the huge success of The Girl on the Train. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this a couple of years ago, back when I wasn’t really reading for fun. Into The Water is set in rural Northern England (an element which of course I loved) and is based around a river in which local ‘troubled’ women have been known to disappear, but in unknown circumstances. As with The Girl on the Train, the novel was filled with twists and was typically page-turning, keeping the reader guessing right up until the last page. I found that there were a few too many characters to make the multiple perspectives easy to follow, but I still enjoyed reading a true thriller.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

4. Frenchman’s Creek – Daphne Du Maurier

For my classic this month I went for another Du Maurier, this time Frenchman’s Creek. Whilst it was still set in Cornwall, it is set a bit earlier than most of her novels are, taking place in the 18th Century. It focuses on the story of a woman, Lady Dona St Columb, who is tired of her London life and retreats to Cornwall, getting tangled up with a French pirate along the way. As with all her books, I enjoyed her writing style immensely and found that the characters were well developed, and as unlikeable as ever. I think that after reading four of her most famous novels this year I’m going to take a break now and venture a little bit further afield with my classics reading.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

5. Out of Mao’s Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China – Philip Pan

Last month I read Madeleine Thein’s Bailey’s Prize-shortlisted novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing, and I felt that I could have enjoyed the book more had I a greater knowledge of China after the 1949 Revolution. After a little bit of a slow start (as I sometimes find non-fiction quite dense) I really got into this and found the way it told the individual stories similar to Nothing to Envy. Having finished it though, I think that the two books could be read in either order, as it supplemented rather than providing me with further understanding about China at this time. As a non-fiction book about China, I found it fascinating to learn more about a country so large but so separate from the rest of the world.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

6. Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act Differently – Emer O’Toole

My audiobook for this month was Girls Will Be Girls, which is a non-fiction book about gender, sexuality and what is seen as ‘normal’ gendered behaviour. I thought this was one of the best books I have ever read on these themes, making them accessible whilst at the same time backing up the research with studies from sociologists and philosophers (I kept wishing I had had this book during my A level Sociology days!) It really made me think about what society deems as ‘normal’ in terms of gender and how views can be changed. Not to mention, I found the subject less dense as an audiobook and really enjoyed listening to the Irish narrator! I would love to read more on this – I’m hoping to pick up Juno Dawson’s book The Gender Games next!

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

7. Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucía – Chris Stewart

I picked up this book after seeing the Stewart family featured on a Rick Stein cookery show, of all things! It is about a British expat couple who are tired of their lives in the UK and decide to buy an isolated and almost derelict farmhouse in Southern Spain. This first book, which is part of a trilogy, focuses on Chris and Ana as they work tirelessly to rebuild the farm to a liveable standard, with the help of various neighbours. Although I don’t think I’m invested enough to continue with the trilogy, I found it to be a quick and easy read, and the atmosphere which is described made me wish that I was reading this on a Spanish beach. A great summer read.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

TV, Film and Theatre:

I have been severely lacking in this department this month. I haven’t seen any films or performances, although I have watched two excellent TV shows – Little Boy Blue, which was an ITV drama following the murder and trial of a young boy in Liverpool, and I’ve recently become hooked on The Crown on Netflix.

Happy Reading for June, Beth

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s