I have been reading a lot these past six months. I quickly discovered that escaping into the fictional world and allowing myself to be transported was just what I needed to protect myself from the state of our world at the moment. Devouring book after book helped me to relax. Even now, as life is returning to normal, I have found myself setting aside more and more time to read, as it has such a positive impact upon me.
I am not ashamed to admit that I have been reading with such velocity that I haven’t been able to keep up with reviewing each book as I had intended to. But, I actually think this would be a shame as I have read some wonderful books. So, instead I have wrote a couple of mini-book reviews to share with you, so you don’t miss out on these superb reads too!
The Complete Mary Poppins (six book collection) by P.L Travers
Disney’s Mary Poppins has always been one of my favourite childhood films and I absolutely fell in love with these books too. They transport you right back to childhood and I couldn’t recommend them enough. I also did actually manage to write a full review for these magical books, which you can read here.
The Anxiety Solution by Chloe Brotheridge
This book has the potential to help you change your life, or improve your perspective on it at least. It has had a massive impact upon me, how I view the world and how I manage daily stresses. But, don’t take my word for it, give it a read yourself! You can read my full review here.
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting with this book; I’d bought it many years ago during my university years because it was a couple of pound in HMV and it thought it would be ‘cool’. It has since sat collecting dust, but I was pleasantly surprised.
How to Build a Girl is a story that we are all too familiar with – the coming of age story, dealing with the question of who we are, where we fit into the world, and the pursuit of self-discovery. It is a semi-autobiographical novel that details, the often disconcerting story, of Johanna Morrigan’s imaginative odyssey into womanhood. Documenting her transformation from a lonely, poverty-stricken, desperate virgin, into ‘Dolly Wilde’ the rebellious, gothic, feared music critic. It is a rather blunt account of adolescence, with some very shocking moments, but it is also laced with such humour and wit that make it easy to binge-read in one sitting.
Beneath the story of reinvention and youth, Moran takes on some of the bigger political issues of the time, including an exploration of the social classes, the place of women in the 1990’s and there is a clear echo of the anti-Thatcher mood that encapsulates the decade. Moran’s honesty is refreshing, and I completed admired her for daring to tell her story so unashamedly. Life is never perfect and Moran tries to remind us of this. For me, How to Build a Girl isn’t for the faint hearted, but if you can stomach it, it is definitely worth taking a chance on.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
I am sure like me, you have been unable to escape the presence of this book on your social media feed for a number of weeks. So much so, that I decided that I had to order myself a copy. I couldn’t help wondering whether it would actually live up to the hype surrounding it, but, my goodness did it!
Kya Clarke is a enigma; she is a ghost that haunts the North Carolina coast and rumours of the ‘Marsh Girl’ have troubled the quiet town of Barkley Cove for years. So when Chase Andrews, a handsome, wholesome local man is found dead in the Marsh, everyone instantly suspects Kya. But, Kya isn’t what they say she is. She has survived alone in the Marsh after her family abandon her one by one; she is sensitive and intelligent; finds friends in the gulls and just wants to be loved.
Where the Crawdads Sing is truly a beautiful book. I had such adoration for Owens use of language and imagery that is both exquisite and vivid. She manages to expertly craft a delicate, heartbreaking and engaging world that I devoured in a couple of sittings. On the surface, it may appear to be a simple murder-mystery, but Where the Crawdads Sing is so much more than this. It is a coming of age story, that makes you question the nature of prejudice and intolerance, the place of violence and endurance in our world. And most of all it is a celebration of nature, womanhood and survival. I really didn’t want to put this book down, it is an impressive debut novel and I cannot wait to see what Owens writes next!
Circe by Madeline Miller
Like the majority of my books, Madeline Miller’s Circehas been sat gathering dust on my bookshelves for nearly a year. It was originally sent to me as part of The Books that Matter subscription service that I had signed up for last year (and subsequently cancelled because I couldn’t keep up with the books). When I finally dusted it off I was hoping for something reminiscent of Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife and through rebellious and strong willed Circe, Miller certainly achieves this and much, much more.
Circe is unusual, she is not powerful and revered like her father, nor is she beautiful and adored like her mother. She does however, have her own dark power – witchcraft. When Circe’s talent threatens the Gods, she is banished to the island of Aiaia where she hones her gift and becomes a skilled sorceress. Circe’s life is then recited, and intertwoven with all of the classic Greek Mythological figures to explore love, loss, family rivalry, motherhood and most importantly the power of a woman finding her place in the darkness of a man’s world.
Circe is an enjoyable novel, but I did struggle initially to get into it. Likewise, I found that my interest waned at certain intervals, but that is not to say it is not a good read. The subject matter, wider themes and mythology employed by Miller were enough to keep my interest sparked until the very last pages. Circe is an enchanting read, seeped in both magic and mystery and is well worthy of the praise it has received since its publication. Circe’s defiance is striking and her sense of self is unfaltering, making her a wonderfully inspiring female protagonist, ideal for the 21st Century woman at odds with her own place in an uncertain world. Circle proves that anything is possible through this truly imaginative novel that should be on your reading wish list.
Love by Angela Carter
Note to self – do not finish reading this book on a bench in the car park of the garage where you car is having its service done. In my pre-hormonal state I was moved to tears and found myself being stared at by a lot blokes waiting for their cars. But all I can say in justification is that, for such a petite book, Love is certainly a powerful one.
Angela Carter’s writing has always fascinated me, ever since I read Nights at the Circus as part of my degree syllabus. She constructs such delicious, sensual work around relevant and enduring issues and Love is no exception. With Love, Carter charts – with deadly precision – the destructive and violent love triangle between Annabelle, her husband Lee and his brother Buzz, in a beautiful ornate, gothic writing style. With a nod to traditional Victorian writing, Carter examines the nature of love, the feeling of losing yourself within a relationship, the role of disguises, imagination and madness upon the self and the barbarity of infidelity and betrayal.
Love is a brutal piece of writing, that is truly heartbreaking from the moment you pick it up until the moment you put it down. It is wicked and full of skepticism and it’s certainly not a book to read if you want to feel better. Nevertheless, it is a stunning piece of writing that is worth reading at least once.
I cannot wait to begin reading my next book; I’ve recently splurged on some great new Autumn/Winter themed reads! What are you going to be reading next? Let me know below.