April seemed to fly by – probably because the first week of it I was on holiday from work and wasn’t really thinking about what day it was. Suddenly it is May although the weather seems somewhat confused. I felt as though I had read a lot in April – but in fact it was a fairly average month – 10 books read during April.
Mary Hocking reading week began on April 3rd and I began April with my second Mary Hocking book for that reading week. Checkmate, a novel set in a small community in Cornwall, to where a stranger brings change and unearths a long held secret. Despite the Falling Snow was a review copy I had been sent – and if I am honest I had misunderstood the kind of book it was – there is nothing wrong with it really, it is just not my usual type of read. I actually enjoyed it more than I expected to as it tells a really good story. The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson was a book I had expected to like more than I did, beautifully written and brilliantly imagined it is a fictional re-telling of the Pendle witch trials. Winterson herself explains how her story is not historically accurate – but it wasn’t that that bothered me. The novel is very dark shot through with magic and the occult as well as the violence towards women and girls prevalent at the time. The whole made for uncomfortable reading.
The 1938 club hosted by Karen at Kaggsy’s bookish ramblings and Simon at Stuck in a book – saw loads of people across blogosphere reading books first published in that year. I read three books for the 1938 club – The Squire by Enid Bagnold, Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker and Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie. My favourite of those three excellent books was The Squire – which it seems is a book which divides people. I was surprised how much I loved it – I had thought all that mumsie stuff would irritate me to death – instead I found it all rather lovely and beautifully written.
Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf – her final posthumously published novel was my most recent read for phase 2 of #Woolfalong. While it won’t be my favourite Woolf – I was captivated by the exquisite writing and the fantastic sense of place. I am continually finding more to love about Virginia Woolf’s writing. Greengates by R C Sherriff a novel re-issued by the lovely Persephone books was certainly one of my favourite books in April, a novel about retirement and houses – it demonstrates how good Sherriff was at writing about ordinary people – those of you who enjoyed A Fortnight in September would definitely like it.
Next I turned my attention to Constance Fenimore Woolson, a nineteenth century American writer who I hadn’t heard of until quite recently. I decided to read a new collection of her short stories Miss Grief and other stories edited by Anne Boyd Rioux alongside the biography about her life, work and friendship with Henry James written by Anne Boyd Rioux who is doing great work to bring CFW to a new audience. I loved those short stories – another of my highlights of the month and the biography Constance Fenimore Woolson: portrait of a Lady Novelist, is brilliantly compelling and fascinating – I hope to review it very soon.
May sees the start of Phase 3 of #Woolfalong – short stories – I have bought three collections – which I now realise contain some of the same stories – I want to read at least two collections by the end of June. I generally do love short stories and have a ridiculous number of collections tbr – so Virginia Woolf’s stories appeal to me greatly. I hope I am not disappointed.
My very small book group (which is becoming my only book group as I haven’t fancied the choices of my other group for some time) will be reading The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante – I can’t wait for that – it was my suggestion.
I have three lovely looking review copies that I want to read this month; He Runs the Moon a collection of short stories by Wendy Brandmark, The Testament of Vida Tremayne by Sarah Vincent, and Summer an anthology of extracts and writing about Summer edited by Melissa Harrison. Considering how fickle I can be about what I read when – there is no guarantee that I will get to them all this month.