Reading Thirkell’s Barsetshire Series in Order: #21 Happy Returns + #20 The Duke’s Daughter Wrap-Up

Cover for Happy Returns

Since I know that at least one person who had been reading along was no longer able to find reasonably priced copies of the books, I got a lot more comments on the last book than I expected. I hope that happy situation continues. Anyway, my thanks to the following people who participated in discussing The Duke’s Daughter:

  • Liz Dexter
  • Penelope Gough

The next book is Happy Returns, which I read all the way back in 2015 and don’t remember at all (except that someone is running for parliament). It’ll be interesting to me to see whether I view that book differently now that I am more familiar with the characters. I will be reviewing that book on Tuesday, February 28! Hope you will join me.

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Reading Thirkell’s Barsetshire Series in Order: #20 The Duke’s Daughter + #19 County Chronical Wrap-Up

Again, I had fun revisiting old friends and meeting new ones in County Chronicle. I thank anyone who has had time to send in a comment. They are

The next book is The Duke’s Daughter, which I will be reviewing on Tuesday, January 31. If you get a chance to read the book or have read it or just have something to say, pop in and make a comment. And here’s our little badge.

Reading Thirkell’s Barsetshire Series in Order: #18 The Old Bank House + #17 Love Among the Ruins Wrap-up

Thanks to my stalwarts who participated by commenting, even though one was unable to get a copy of Love Among the Ruins this month. They are

  • Liz Dexter
  • Penelope Gough

Our next book is The Old Bank House. Yes, I’m going to the bitter end, even if no one can follow. So far, it has not been painful. I am posting my review on Wednesday, November 30. I hope a few of you will pop in and join me in reading it or some of the others coming up.

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Reading Thirkell’s Barsetshire Series in Order: #17 Love Among the Ruins + #16 Private Enterprise Wrap-Up

I know I’m losing participants, but thanks to those who are keeping up or made comments about Private Enterprise, the first post-war book in the series. Those who participated were

Our book for October is Love Among the Ruins. I will be posting my review on Monday, October 31. I hope that one or two people will read along with me, as I am getting into completely uncharted waters.

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If I Gave the Award

Cover for A Little Life

With my review of The Year of the Runaways, I have finished reading the shortlisted books for the Booker Prize of 2015. So, it’s time for my feature where I decide whether the judges got it right. My reactions to the shortlist of that year were really mixed. There were a couple books I intensely disliked, one that I thought was pointless, one that was interesting but didn’t really pull me in, and two that were excellent.

The winner for the year was A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, about an assassination attempt on Bob Marley and its ramifications years later. I found it brutal and sexist and couldn’t even figure out which of many dead people the seven killings referred to. Though it was the first book in this shortlist that I read, I knew even then I wouldn’t be picking it as my favorite.

My next least favorite book was The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma, about what happens between brothers after a prophecy. I found this book interesting because of its insight into Nigerian village culture and life, but I also found it extremely and graphically violent. Worse, I found Obioma’s writing immature, with unusual metaphors that often didn’t work well and his love for long, overblown sentences.

I didn’t see any point at all in Satin Island by Tom McCarthy, about U, a corporate anthropologist, whose job is to observe, connect, and deconstruct all known human activity. I’m sure it is meant ironically, but the novel seemed an exercise in Absurdism to me. It almost had a plot, but then it petered out at the end.

I liked The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota a little bit better. Written as if it was 19th century social realism, it is about several young Indian men who illegally immigrate to England with unrealistic expectations of their job prospects. It’s pretty grim, though, and it gets worse before it gets better. Its social realist style leaves you detached from its characters.

Cover for A Spool of Blue Thread

Now, we get to the good stuff. I just loved A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. About a family that gathers to decide what to do about their aging and faltering parents, I found it to be a lovely story about family stories and secrets, loving and forgiveness.

Finally, however, there is A Little Life by Hanya Yanigihara. A beautifully written novel, it centers around four young men who were roommates in college. Slowly, we learn the secrets of one mysterious character, Jude, around whom everything seems to center. This was a powerful and deeply touching novel.

So, I pick A Little Life, with strong recommendations for A Spool of Blue Thread.

My latest haul (finally) from the British Library Press

After several requests, I finally got another package of review copies from the British Library Crime Classics and Women Writers series. I’m not sure what went wrong with the first few requests, as each time they said they would send some books. Unfortunately, I got more Crime Classics than Women Writers books, when I thought it would be the other way around. However, I am looking forward to some delicious reading.