My February reading started with a remarkable novel – Suite Francaise by Irene Nѐmirovsky – a film of which, I have since been made aware is coming soon. I actually saw a trailer for the film, a couple of weeks ago, when I went to see the wonderful Selma – everyone should watch that – sorry, back to books. Helen Dunmore is a novelist it would seem that I have rather neglected. My second read was The Greatcoat, which I did enjoy very much and reminded me how good Dunmore is at characterisation and exploring the complex relationships between people – I am never very convinced by ghost stories – which is what The Greatcoat is, but it is very atmospheric. Next up was the first of my two book group reads – yes two book groups now – how will I cope? Orlando has been called Virginia Woolf’s most accessible novel by some, but I know Woolf fans disagree about that. I have always had a rather difficult relationship with Virginia Woolf, on the surface she would appear to be the kind of writer that I should love, indeed I have always wanted to, but I think I put myself off her when I was a lot younger and not quite ready for her writing. I absolutely loved Orlando – much more than I had expected to and it was a book I was looking forward to. Our book group met last Thursday to discuss it, and it seems several members found it tough going – a couple didn’t manage to finish it.
As a book lover and inveterate book buyer – I can’t help but to be endlessly charmed and a little heartbroken by the story Helen Hanff told us in the famous 84 Charing Cross Road, my fourth book of February was Letter from New York by Helene Hanff – a collection of the five minute broadcasts that Hanff made for the BBC in the late 1970’s and 1980’s – her Letter from New York to the people of Britain. This was a wonderful book, and has made me determined to re-read 84 Charing Cross Road again soon. Next was book two of the wonderfully readable Forsyte Saga, I loved In Chancery just as much as A Man of Property, in this novel Galsworthy concerned himself mainly with the realities of couples wanting to divorce at the end of the nineteenth century. The Awakening which I read for my second (a brand new) book group which will be meeting on Wednesday – was another outstanding book, evocative, with a surprisingly modern feel to the late nineteenth century writing. Ariel was my first poetry collection this year – the first poetry collection I have ever reviewed too. Tea with Mr Rochester – Persephone book 44 was the first of two collections of short stories I read toward the end of the month. Tea with Mr Rochester may be a book many people haven’t come across, the author died before her collected short stories were published in one collection, and then naturally there were no more books. Having read Orlando earlier in the month, sometimes described as a love letter to Vita Sackville West, I read The Edwardians by Vita Sackville West, published two years after Orlando. I knew my friend Liz was reading it so as it was on my #TBR20 pile anyway I thought I would read along. My second collection of short stories and the final book for February which I only finished on Saturday morning was A Jury of her Peers and other stories by Susan Glaspell, a writer I have come to love, but whose work can be hard to find.
So a total of ten books for February, and I know I am already a tiny bit behind last year, which was behind the year before – not sure I like that trend. I will, of course, be reviewing those last two books over the next week hopefully.
I am glad to welcome March in quite frankly, I rather dislike January and February if that isn’t too monthist – I love daffodils, and the emergence of spring flowers, lighter mornings making the walk to work that much better. No particular plans for March really, except for a re-read of Frankenstein for one of my book groups – which is kind of freeing, and I do like that feeling. I am supposed to be working my way to the end of #TBR20 but I keep losing my way and reading away from that original pile. If you remember I began #TBR20 back at the start of January however just four books in and I bought two books – oops. Beginning again – I intended to read what was left on that pile of twenty books and four others – however although I have read fifteen or sixteen books since I fell off the wagon buying two books – many of them weren’t on that original pile – so here I am reading book number 21 of the year and it’s all got a bit confusing because that #TBR20 pile still has 8 books on it. Still I am pleased with my book buying restraint, amazed actually. Currently reading Loving by Henry Green from a collection of three of his novels – which I intend to read seperately – I have had them ages.