The first two weeks of July were very slow reading weeks here, I think I was just busy and over-tired, thankfully the holidays started on the 17th and funnily enough my rate of reading then improved greatly.
I began July reading Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie, who never fails to be exactly what I need during times of stress or extreme tiredness, this one doesn’t feature either of Christie’s most famous detectives, and I loved it for being a bit different. With my Holiday from work not far off I started Holiday by Stanley Middleton the 1974 joint Booker Prize winner. Middleton is not a writer I had ever read before and now I am determined to find more of his books. Simon at Stuck-in-a- book was responsible (I am so glad) for me buying three books by Cornelia Otis Skinner, Our Hearts were Young and Gay; proved to be an absolute joy of a read, a memoir of COS and Emily Kimbrough’s travels in Europe in the 1920’s it is in tone very reminiscent of E M Delafield’s Provincial Lady. I can’t wait to read the next two Cornelia Otis Skinner books I have waiting. Liz has now borrowed Our Hearts were Young and Gay, which is why it’s not in the photograph of July reading, I have a feeling she will enjoy it too. Next up was The Rising Tide by Molly Keane, a brilliant novel exploring the complexities of an Anglo-Irish family with psychological astuteness.
The day the holidays began for me, I began reading Swan Song, the sixth Forsyte novel overall, simply a rollicking good story, I could barely put it down, in this novel Galsworthy finishes off a story that had been gradually building over the course of three previous books, and the conclusion is brilliantly unforgettable. Go, Set a Watchman came next – what has become a controversial, much talked about book, which I enjoyed more than I might have expected. It gave me a lot to think about and I enjoyed the challenge of seeing those beloved characters of To Kill a Mockingbird in a different light. The Hopkins Manuscript; a Persephone book I have had tbr for over a year was another enormously compelling read, I flew through this Sci-Fi novel from 1939 which imagines the moon’s collision with planet Earth. The Hundred-Foot Journey read for a book group was a big disappointment; the premise of the novel promised so much, but for me just didn’t deliver. The Bay of Angels by Anita Brookner – is just perfect – I love Anita Brookner and although the central character in this novel is similar to other Brookner characters, disappointed, introspective, lonely, I found her particularly sympathetic. I can’t think why I waited so long to read another Brookner – I love her writing. My second book group chose Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey for our next meeting, which isn’t for a couple of weeks but I thought I’d get prepared early. I have read Cheerful Weather for the wedding before, just over six years ago and remember it fondly and so welcomed a chance to re-read it, it is a quick read but very sharply observed I enjoyed perhaps even more this time. Having read very little actually published in 2015 I finished the month readingg The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall which some people had tipped to make the Booker Longlist – but it didn’t make it after all.
August is here – and with August comes a lovely tradition over on the Librarything Virago readers group – AVAA – that is All Virago All August. Well you know how I love my old green viragos. I can’t commit to reading just virago (and Persephone) volumes all August I get too easily distracted by other things – but I shall be reading some. I haven’t completely decided which viragos to read – but I have The Lying Days by Nadine Gordimer and West with the Night – Beryl Markham set aside as they are also on my #20booksofsummer pile. I still have four books on that summer pile – but fickle reader that I am, I am taking a break from #20booksofsummer, saving the last few for a couple of weeks’ time – distracted as I am by all those green books and what lies almost forgotten on my kindle.