Today’s Friday read is Susan Elliot Wright’s What She Lost.
Eleanor and her mother Marjorie have always had a difficult relationship and although they’ve tried, they have somehow just failed to connect.
Now Marjorie has Alzheimer’s, and as her memory fades, her grip on what she has kept hidden begins to loosen. When she calls her daughter to say, ‘There’s something I have to tell you’, Eleanor hopes this will be the moment she learns the truth about the terrible secret that has cast a shadow over both their lives.
But Marjorie’s memory is failing fast and she can’t recall what she wanted to say. Eleanor knows time is running out, and as she tries to gently uncover the truth before it becomes lost inside her mother’s mind forever, she begins to discover what really happened when she was a child – and why…
Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca is a book I seem to know a lot about without having actually read it.
Like many people, I know the opening line, ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’ I know about some of the characters. Mrs Danvers springs to mind. I’m aware of its popularity and focus on the gothic, but I’ve never actually read it.
That’s about to change. Rebecca is one of the set texts on my twentieth century literature module. I’ve made a start reading it today.
My book room is getting out of control. It’s not a big room at all. There are three bookcases, a desk, and piles and piles of books. Last night, I heard a crash. One of the piles of books had taken a tumble.
I raced in to rescue my beloved books. I wouldn’t want them getting creased, or dog-eared or worse still, torn. I piled them back up, and while I was rearranging them, I spotted this.
Ours are the Streets is Sunjeev Sahota’s first novel. I met him last year at Sheffield’s Off the Shelf Festival. I loved his writing so much I bought both his books. He signed them for me, and I returned home and placed them on one of my many ‘to read’ piles. Between then and now they have both been lost. I knew they were somewhere in the deep, dark, depths of my reading room, but I couldn’t say exactly where.
What a shame to have forgotten about this book. I read the blurb. I read the first page. I decided to make this my Friday read.
“Imtiaz Raina leaves England for the first time ever when he buries his father on family land near Lahore. It is the beginning of a journey that takes him far from his young wife and daughter in Sheffield and deep into the mountains of Kashmir and Afghanistan. He returns a changed man. This is his story.”
My next challenge will be to tidy my reading room and locate Sahota’s second novel.
Madame Bovary is the story of Emma Bovary, a woman who struggles to cope with the monotony of provincial life. Emma dreams of a better, more sophisticated and cosmopolitan existence, but is powerless to change things.
Married to a man who irritates and bores her, Emma seeks romance through a series of affairs. She lives her life through literature, developing an idealised view of romance. It’s an ideal that can never be realised, and Emma sinks into depression as she realises that she cannot fulfil her desires.
First published in 1857, Madame Bovary is an attack Continue reading
I’m very excited about this week’s Friday read. It’s a Costa Book Awards winner and Waterstones Book Club recommendation.
I’ve heard very good things about it.
On Wednesday, my Mum and I had an afternoon together, which involved drinking tea, eating scones and book shopping (of course). When I asked the bookseller to recommend a book, she didn’t hesitate in taking this one from the shelf. Continue reading
‘There…stood the figure of a solitary woman, dressed from head to foot in white garments; her face bent in grave inquiry on mine, her hand pointing to the dark cloud over London, as I faced her.’
This weekend I’m re-reading Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White. It’s part of my university degree module.
The essay I’m working on asks students to compare and contrast the techniques by which two novels (The Woman in White, and Madame Bovary) construct what might be described as ‘portraits’ of their leading female characters.
In The Woman in White, Walter Hartright has a mysterious midnight encounter with a strange woman. The meeting draws him into a vortex of crime, poison, kidnapping, and international intrigue.
Collins presents a variety of first person narratives through a series of letters. The good thing is that the letters are all stylistically different, to reflect the voice of each character.
At 643 pages The Woman in White is certainly not a quick read, but its style, characters and themes make it an interesting read. The first time I read the book, I got through it much quicker than I expected. I’m hoping a second reading will allow me to focus on the themes, ideas and characters, so I have a much deeper understanding.
What are you reading this weekend?
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is my read for this weekend. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while. Helen is speaking at the Sheffield Off the Shelf festival next week, so I’m keen to read it before the event. The blurb is below.
As a child, Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer, learning the arcane terminology and reading all the classic books. Years later, when her father died and she was struck deeply by grief, she became obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She bought Mabel for £800 on a Scottish quayside and took her home to Cambridge, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals.
H is for Hawk is an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald’s struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk’s taming and her own untaming. This is a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to reconcile death with life and love.