Moominvalley in November by Tove Jansson ***** (re-read)
I adore seasonal reads, and had to squeeze this in during November. As I am sure all of you know, Tove Jansson is one of my favourite authors, and the Moomins one of my most treasured series of books. It will come as no surprise in that case when I write that Moominvalley in November is utterly enchanting, and it is certainly a book which can be revisited with delight every single year. I love the way in which this particular Moomin tale is constructed, in that all of the chapters follow different characters. It goes without saying that the illustrations are beautiful, to match the perfect writing throughout. The imagery which Jansson uses is so powerful, and I love the way in which she describes autumn and the coming of winter, particularly with regard to the alteration of the surroundings in Moominvalley.
Old Crow by Shena Mackay **
I began this novella on the train to London, merely because it was one of the thinnest books on my to-read shelf, and one of the only ones which would fit comfortably into my bag without becoming dog-eared. I had earmarked Shena Mackay as a monthly author for my now defunct online book group as she was recommended by one of the members, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect from her writing.
Old Crow is a very odd little novella, and is incredibly dark throughout. It tells the story of Coral, whose pregnancy with a man she is not married to leads her to live in squalor, shunned by the majority of the community who think that her ‘slum house’ is detrimental to everything around them. My favourite element in the book was the way in which Mackay used the destruction of objects and surroundings to show how her protagonist was breaking over time. Some of the scenes which were crafted were incredibly vivid. Throughout, Mackay exemplifies how truly horrid people can be. Some of the sections did not really interest me or hold my attention, but others pulled me right in. I felt that some of the characters were a little underdeveloped, and the entirety was rather depressing in its plot and tone. On the whole, I did enjoy Old Crow, but something about it has made me reluctant to read more of Mackay’s work.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens **
As soon as the nights begin to draw in, I always feel the need for cosy novels. Whilst my Dickens and Woolf readathon has not really gone to plan, I felt that Dickens fitted the description of a cosy author marvellously, and began The Mystery of Edwin Drood hoping to find a mini-masterpiece. This is Dickens’ unfinished novel, the last which he penned. I found the way in which some of the novel was written in the present tense interesting, but it was rather a slow book on the whole. Not much really seemed to happen until Edwin’s murder, and little after that occurred too. The characters felt a little flat at times – perhaps because they had not been fully developed. It is most interesting to think where the story could have gone.