The Year in Books: March

My book for March is going to be The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.  I don't tend to read books just because they're currently popular, but this one has been all over my social media feeds for weeks with positive comments, and my mum's book group has read it (and liked it) so I thought I'd get my hands on a copy.  I'm already about halfway through and thoroughly enjoying it.


I appear to have read quite a lot in February.


I chose Bassett by Stella Gibbons from the library simply because I didn't realise Stella Gibbons had written anything else apart from Cold Comfort Farm.  I read it at the beginning of the month, and clearly has had no impact on me whatsoever as I've just had to Google the plot! With many books, I enjoy the act of reading more than I enjoy what I'm reading (does that make sense?) so this book clearly falls into that category!

The actual cover design on the real book is much better!
The Disappeared by Roger Scruton* has a complex cast of characters all somehow linked to migrants in a Yorkshire underworld - the plot contains inappropriate relationships, rape and slavery (amongst other things) as well as good people trying to do their best in the face of political correctness.  Chapters focused on different characters and sometimes it was incredibly hard to work out who was who, especially due to the tense in which some of it was written, things like 'you are standing in a room.  There is a person behind you.  You turn around slowly' that sort of thing.  Who am I? What am I doing?!  Overall, a well-written book, but pretty depressing and upsetting in places.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George and All Together Now by Gill Hornby were both quick, good reads but due to the publisher's restrictions I can't say much more about them just yet!

Edited 25th May: The Little Paris Bookshop is a bookshop in Paris - more specifically, in a boat on the Seine.  The owner has great intuition and can recommend a book (sometimes several) to every customer who comes in, even if they don't think they are a customer, or if the recommendation goes against their perceived tastes and interests.  Whilst this is a lovely idea (I kind of like the idea of having books recommended just for me) it is quite a romance-y book which I wasn't really expecting.  Still good, though and has made me want to visit a bookshop on a boat.  All Together Now follows a group of characters as they find themselves, for a myriad of reasons, in a community choir.  It's a somewhat predictable plot, and whilst I enjoyed reading it the characters weren't funny enough to have stayed with me.  Indeed, I've had to look the book up on Goodreads as I can barely remember any details.

The Shore by Sara Taylor* refers to a group of islands off the Virginia coast and if it had only been one chapter long I'd have been satisfied.  The first chapter is excellent, and would be a perfect short story - it provided enough detail about the main characters, enough events that you felt empathy/hatred/fear as appropriate and had such a brilliantly unexpected ending that I would have happily left it at that.  I kept reading, though, and didn't enjoy the rest of the book as much.  It follows generations of people who live on these islands, as they drink a lot and do horrible things to one another (and there are some pretty horrible things).  Various women are revisited at different stages in their lives as the reader learns about the consequences of earlier actions.  The more I read, the more ambivalent I was getting about it, and admittedly skim-read to the end.  That first chapter is going to stay with me for a long time.

Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder* was excellent, a book that was better than expected.  I think because I'd recently finished some books I hadn't enjoyed so much, it was particularly good to find a book I did like.  The story follows Aganetha, who in the 1920s was a Canadian Olympic runner.  She is now over a hundred years old and in a nursing home, where few people know of her achievements.  Old Aganetha remembers her childhood in rural Canada, how she then moved to the city and earned her place in the Olympic team. Two strangers come and visit her in the nursing home and a mystery develops as to how and why these strangers fit into her life and that of her family.  It was interesting to read about Aganetha's childhood, how she had to battle against societal norms and restraints in order to run, and general attitudes towards women in sport.  I've never been particularly interested in sport, but this book did make me think about perhaps some of these attitudes are not as old-fashioned as I might think.

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith is the most recent book in his No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series and was lovely, in much the same way as all the other books are lovely.  A few mysteries are solved, nothing terribly awful happens, lots of tea is drunk, the end.

Joining in with Laura.

*Thank you to the publishers, via NetGalley, for providing me with a copy of this book.

Comments

  1. I really liked the way The Miniaturist was written, I felt like I could see and smell and feel every detail of 17th Century Amsterdam.

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    1. Definitely. Although perhaps not the herring. There seems to be a lot of herring in it.

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  2. I've heard lots of mixed reviews about The Miniaturist but it is still on my wish list.

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    1. A few people I know didn't enjoy the first 50 pages or so, but persevered with it and enjoyed reading it eventually. I guess it depends on whether or not you're willing to keep reading or if you just need to come back to it at a later date!

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    2. I must admit once I start a book I do have to finish it just in the hope that it will eventually get better if not brilliant. This doesn't normally happen in most cases but there is always hope and maybe the minuaturist is just one of those books.

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  3. Ooh I've heard good things about The Miniaturist too, although I don't tend to like reading popular books either, mostly because I never seem to actually like the stories! It seems like some books are just victims of their own hype for me..

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    1. Yes! Sometimes the hype can be too much, but I think it's deserved in this case.

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  4. I have The Miniaturist on audiobook to listen too when I have finished my current one.

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    1. Excellent! I hope you enjoy it!

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  5. I read The Miniaturist this month and really enjoyed it :) I like the sound of your books for February - I'm going to add Girl Runner to my to read list for sure!

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    1. It was a great book. Yes, read Girl Runner, a book I'm not sure I'd have chosen for myself, but so pleased that I did read it! I'm now recommending it to everyone :-)

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  6. I just read The Miniaturist and loved it. I've also read The Little Paris Bookshop and I have All Together Now to read as well

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