Posts tagged ‘English Countryside’

Blankets, Fireplaces, Hot tea and, of course,a Reading list

There is nothing as wonderful as crisp days, thick socks, blankets, warm drinks and books.  It is just a time of year where things seem to fit so well together.  So, while I can’t make the crisp days or the warm drinks appear, I can put together a reading list for those days when you find yourself wondering what to read next (while wrapped in that blanket of course).

  1. 1. The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Gowar: This book has received some stunning reviews and for good reason.  It is historical fiction of London in 1785 with the story of John Hancock, a widower merchant, and the parallel life of Angelical Neal, a high end gentleman’s companion (if you will).  After an anxious wait for the return of one of his merchant ships, Hancock finds himself, in lieu of money or his ship, in possession of a jar containing a mermaid.  Hancock must make the best of the situation and begins charging for Londoners to come see his curiosity. Meanwhile, Angelical finds herself without a patron or madame and must try to make a society name for herself somehow.  Both Hancock and Angelical cross paths and in an odd turn find their futures entwined.  This novel has a hollow sorrow that echos in all the lives and choices the characters make.  At the same time, it beautifully addresses how quickly futures, lives, and reputations can change while still offering something in the way of fable that I am not quite sure I have fully grasped yet.  It reminded me in pieces of “The Crimson Petal and the White” – as Gowar leaves no room for the reader to romanticize the life of a whore or life as a 1700s Londoner.    It was dirty, grimy, and everyone was looking for their own mermaid in whatever form she would come to them.
  2. Ghosted by Rosie Walsh: Sarah and Eddie meet on the green in a small English town on a summer day.  They spend a week together and when Eddie leaves for a trip it is clear he has every intent to come back to Sarah.  But he doesn’t.  To Sarah this seems unfathomable.  And there I must leave it because there are some many things to discover in the reading. The way this author unfolds this story is extremely well done and I loved it.  There is a bit of a slight of hand by Walsh but it is well done and by the time you reach the end it all falls together well.
  3. The Miniaturist”by Jessie Burton: This novel had all of the elements that make a period piece work so well.  The setting is visible for the reader, the restrictions of the place and time feel suffocating, the smells and discomforts of the characters layer the story.   As a reader you know where you are and what you are meant to feel with the characters.  The story itself happens behind closed doors and in whispers in hallways and bits and pieces of information. I will let you find the storyline elsewhere and the PBS miniseries does such a great job with this book. So of course after the book, you have something to look forward to as well.
  4. The Witch Elm by Tana French: I should say I absolutely love Tana French. This book was a bit of a departure for her.  It was not her usual suspense novel and that has some good things and some frustrating things. Her character development was deeper but I am not sure how much I liked the characters. The story was a mystery of sorts but more of a story of memory, family and the stories we tell are ourselves about who we are.   I am just not sure what I think of this novel but would still recommend it. Though importantly, it should not be your first Tana French experience.
  5. Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Lock:  Darren is a Texas Ranger who is also black.  He finds himself on suspension and doing a favor for a friend by visiting a small Texan town where two murders have happened.  He is just there to get a lay of the land from the small cafe that sits in front of the swamp where the bodies have been found.  The cafe is owned by Geneva Sweet who opened the place 50 years ago so that other black folks had a safe place to stop and eat in deep KKK country.  Darren finds himself quickly embedded with the characters in the cafe and the crimes.  I loved this book.  I will say that some of the characters are fairly one dimensional but the detail of the food, the relationships, the racial tension, the understanding of what is home is just so profound that we can give Lock a pass.  She makes some amazing observations about racism and how it involves the marginalized people just wanting to live their lives while the oppressors are wholly obsessed with what the marginalized people are doing or not doing.  It is a bizarre and sick way for those who have all the power to chose to live.

Hopefully, your blankets are at the ready and you have the kettle on.  Happy Reading friends.

November 7, 2018 at 9:27 pm Leave a comment

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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