Has it really been that long? Talk about life having its twists and turns. Since I last posted I started working part-time at Magazine Heaven, the local indie magazine and bookshop where I hold my monthly book club. I became the book buyer last August so I have been learning the retail ropes and meeting with publisher reps and basically been in my element. I also went back to my roots as a full-time English teacher...yes, life has been busy and I can barely pick up a book most nights let alone write about what I’ve been reading (which has, sadly, been minimal).
I'm not going to go on about the state of the world right now. We all know what a dire situation we're in, but weirdly this shit storm (forgive me, but you know I'm right) has given me the headspace to read again. I have read more this last week during lockdown than I have in the last two months, so I guess my reading funk is officially over. This week I have enjoyed a couple of titles that have been on my book trolley for over a year.
First up this week, and our monthly book club choice is Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. This won The Booker Prize in 2019 and I can see why. It’s a novel made up of the narratives of twelve women of colour who are all linked in some way. Evaristo explores the complex and oh so relatable relationships between mothers and daughters, female friendships and LGBGTQ themes. You cannot help but care for each of these women as you travel through their lives exploring their sexuality, hopes, dreams, and desires. On a personal level, I enjoyed seeing how the characters reached fulfillment which differed vastly for each character. This is a true celebration of women and womanhood and Evaristo is a master storyteller. I’m now going to be seeking out more of her writing, which is poetic and true to the characters she embodies.
The second book I completed this week (I feel such a sense of achievement!) is one that I have been putting off for some time as I found the blurb rather uninspiring. Also, it had enormous hype which I find off-putting – yes this speaks to my ridiculous stubbornness, but I know that I’m not the only reader with this habit! Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss was recommended to me by many fellow readers and I was also gifted a copy by Rich my Faber book rep. I’m not sure why I was drawn to it this week in particular, perhaps it was its slimness, but I was pleasantly surprised. From the first page, I was hooked by Moss’s engaging prose. I was expecting a grim story bogged down – no pun intended – in Iron Age historical detail. While much historical detail is present the writing is far from dry and I could not help care for Silvie, a seventeen-year-old whose every move is governed by an abusive father. My heart tore for her; the sign of a good book. This book is a gem and a quick read at 149 pages. Moss packs in so much detail and the summer heat that overwhelms the characters seeps through the pages. So, yes, I am jumping on that bandwagon even if I am ridiculously late to the party.
This month sees the publication of my most anticipated title this year, Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. I was due to see O’Farrell speak at this year’s Stratford Book Festival, which has, of course, been cancelled. I fell in love with O’Farrell’s writing about 5 years ago when my dear friend, Charlotte, introduced me to After You’d Gone – it broke my heart for so many reasons. I have since gone on to work my way through her back catalogue and I have patiently been waiting for her next work of fiction since reading I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death, O’Farrell’s non-fiction debut. I have already pre-ordered a copy from Magazine Heaven and am (in)patiently awaiting it’s arrival next week.