I haven’t had anywhere near enough time to comprehensively review my reads, so I thought I would create a post where I blog about each work I’ve read using just two lines – one for the plot, and one for my thoughts. Each will, of course, have a corresponding star rating, and will be reviewed in the order in which I read them.
1. Still Missing by Beth Gutcheon ***
Plot: Mother’s only son goes missing, and she refuses to give up hope for his return, as all others do.
Thoughts: There were problems with dialogue and characterisation, and it feels to me rather an odd choice for a Persephone book, but a memorable read nonetheless.
2. The Book Collector by Alice Thompson ****
Plot: Edwardian mystery about a newly-married woman who becomes obsessed with one of her husband’s books.
Thoughts: An utterly compelling read, which gets creepier as it goes on.
3. Love’s Work by Gillian Rose ***
Plot: Philosophical musings about an academic’s diagnosis with breast cancer, and how it affects her life.
Thoughts: The first half is entirely different to the second, in almost a jarring manner, but it is certainly an interesting illness narrative.
4. The Young Man Who Discovered the Secret of Life and Other Stories by Muriel Spark ***
Plot: A collection of very short stories in a handy foldable format.
Thoughts: Includes just the right balance of Spark’s wit and quirkiness.
5. The Atom Station by Halldor Laxness ****
Plot: Two parallel stories: America want to purchase a portion of uninhabited land in Iceland for testing, and concurrently a young girl moves to become the maid for the Icelandic Prime Minister.
Thoughts: The elements of magical realism fascinated me in this well-translated novel, and my high hopes after reading Laxness’ Fish Can Sing were reached.
6. Love, Sex, Death and Words by John Sutherland and Stephen Fender ***
Plot: One entry for every day of the year, which focuses on something which has happened in literary history, or in dated literature.
Thoughts: A very clever idea, but perhaps not executed as well as it could have been, as many of the entries were quite similar.
7. Moments of Truth by Lorna Sage ****
Plot: Presents portraits of twelve twentieth-century women writers, ranging from Djuna Barnes to Edith Wharton.
Thoughts: Compelling and beautifully written anecdotes, and I feel I learnt a lot.
8. Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller ****
Plot: A young girl is told that the world has ended, and is taken to live deep in the German forest with her father.
Thoughts: Evocative descriptions bring Peggy’s world – and her character – to life.
9. Until Further Notice I Am Alive by Tom Lubbock ****
Plot: An art critic is diagnosed with a Grade 4 terminal brain tumour, and charts how his speech and skills decline over time.
Thoughts: Beautifully honest and heartrending, this is an exquisite illness narrative, and the parallel to Coutts’ wonderful The Iceberg.
10. Rasputin: A Very Short Life by Frances Welch ****
Plot: This conversational biography presents a short but comprehensive life of Rasputin.
Thoughts: It does not take itself too seriously, but still manages to teach an awful lot.
Have you read any of these books? Are there any which you are intrigued enough about to pick up? What do you think about the two-line format of these reviews?
Keep your eyes peeled for the rest of the series!