May is one of my favourite months, a month of blossom, lighter evenings, bank holidays and my birthday. This year of course May culminated in me spending a couple of days at the Hay Festival – which I blogged about yesterday. I have also read a mix of excellent books.
I began May reading a Pat Barker novel have had for ages, Liza’s England is the story of a working class woman – the same age as the century she lives in. It is a wonderful story of more than eighty years of history – and a woman who lives through those changing times. Mrs Dalloway’s Party was the collection of stories that I chose to begin phase three of #Woolfalong – I loved how it complements the novel Mrs Dalloway. The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante– was a book group read which really packs a punch, a viscerally angry novel, I was surprised by the tone of the book but ended up really loving it. Parson Austen’s Daughter by Helen Ashton, was a Christmas present from my sister, the fourth Helen Ashton I have read – I liked it but it is my least favourite of her books so far. The Testament of Vida Tremayne by Sarah Vincent was kindly sent to me by the author, in it we have a compelling mother, daughter story set in the countryside of the Welsh borders.
Willa Cather’s Lucy Gayheart – was my top read of the month, a story of love, loss and failure it’s deeply poignant, reminding me that Willa Cather is one of my favourite writers. Next two review copies back to back – they’re like buses sometimes – He Runs the Moon an excellent collection of short stories subtitled tales from the cities by Wendy Brandmark, Summer an anthology of writings, includes extracts from well-known novels, essays from some (to me at least) new voices, and poetry. I will be reviewing Summer soon, although I think an anthology will be even harder to review than I find short stories to review. Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay – read on my kindle for my book group – a couple of weeks early to make way for #20booksofsummer – is the compelling story of the poet’s search for her birth parents. I ended the month by reading – in a day – the short novel – La Femme Gilles by Madeline Bourdouxhe. I had only read a review of it a few days ago – I ordered it immediately and began reading it straight from the packaging on arriving home from Hay. Beautiful and devastating I want to read everything by this Belgian writer who is being re- issued by Daunt books who do produce such elegant books.
So June is the beginning of #20booksofsummer – and I chose thirty books in which to read twenty from – which I hope will help me stick to the pile. Beryl Bainbridge week is not far away and I have two Bainbridge on that summer reading pile – A Weekend with Claude and A Quiet Life. I also have more Virginia Woolf stories to read, Monday or Tuesday will be up soon. As for everything else I think I pick from that summer pile according to my mood.
My last two posts have not been reviews – and I have three books to still tell you all about. I will get back to reviewing in a couple of days.