I was planning to get my TBR down to zero books in October; it is perhaps no surprise that this did not happen. I was doing so well until the very end of the month, and had read four of five titles, leaving just one large tome (The Magic Mountain) on my to-read pile.
However, a shopping trip with family necessitated a trip to The Works, and before I knew it, I had come out with three history titles. In my defence, I had intended to borrow a few history books from my library a few days before this trip, but they are having a change around, and had temporarily stashed the books I was looking for away. I also ended up purchasing a much-hyped book when it was part of a Kindle daily deal, and read this during the month.
I am determined to get through my entire TBR during November. I have two history books which I am very keen to get to, and I am also going on a long haul holiday for two weeks, during which time I plan to finally tackle The Magic Mountain. Wish me luck!
As with last month’s TBR tracker, you can find reviews of the books which I read during October, as well as an updated to-read list, below.
Sweet Caress by William Boyd *** (Kindle)
I really enjoy William Boyd’s writing, and was intrigued by the storyline of Sweet Caress, a novel which follows its heroine, Amory Clay, through her entire life, which spans much of the twentieth-century. I was pulled into the novel immediately, and at first, I found the first person perspective to be believable. However, Boyd focuses throughout upon what feel like very jarring and out-of-character details. I found myself questioning Amory’s motives from time to time as the novel went on.
Whilst Sweet Caress is certainly readable, it became quite drawn out after a while, and it was filled with some quite irritating clichéd elements, which seemed redundant in terms of the larger plot. The novel is well written, but also problematic in that I did not always find it wholly believable.
The Diviners by Margaret Laurence ***
I have not read a great deal of Margaret Laurence’s work, but love her prose style, and the intricate, intimate portraits of Canadian women which she presents. The Diviners, considered to be the final book in Laurence’s Manawaka series, sounded exactly like my cup of tea. However, I found myself enjoying it nowhere near as much as The Stone Angel, which is an exquisite novel. This is certainly a readable book, but due to the way it is structured, it felt a little disjointed, and I was less interested in the protagonist than I anticipated I would be at the outset.
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell ***
I have read quite a few of Gaskell’s works before, and have enjoyed them well enough. However, I seem to come up with a similar problem each time I reach for one of her books. Whilst I find her prose beautiful, there is often little to push the story along, and it becomes a little saturated. I must admit that, in this vein, I was not pulled in by the storyline or characters of North and South; indeed, some of the secondary characters, like Margaret’s father for instance, felt like caricatures, or full-blown stereotypes. I tend to prefer Gaskell’s short stories and novellas, which I find a lot more atmospheric, and less drawn out.
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman ** (Kindle)
I have long been aware of the hype surrounding Andre Aciman’s LGBTQ+ novel, Call Me By Your Name. Contrary to popular opinion, I found the novel very difficult to get into. The prose felt a little clumsy and stilted – almost to the extent that it felt like a translated book – and somewhat overwritten, and I did not believe in either of the quite vague protagonists. I felt distanced from the story, and felt that some of the scenes had been input purely for dramatic effect, as they added very little to the storyline. It goes without saying that I will not be reading the sequel.
Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died in the 1940s by Anne Sebba was a five-star read for me. A full-length review is forthcoming. I also read the copy of Unbelievable by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong which I picked up in The Works; a review will be posted at some point in the next few months.
My current TBR stands as follows:
- The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
- Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower
- When the Germans Came: True Stories of Life Under Occupation in the Channel Islands by Duncan Barrett
Current total: 3
Goal for the end of November: 0