It will probably take several posts to get though my summer reading. Not that I intend to give proper reviews of each, only my impressions of the over all story and writing.
What is it that keeps one reading? Sometimes I lay a book aside and yawn, only to rediscover it later and find it engrossing. So sometimes it’s only one]s mood. Do I look for light entertainment? Or something to sink my teeth into? Do I want to read a book that covers the same sort of territory as the book I am working on myself? Usually not.
Then there’s the problem of not being able to read at all when I’m writing. Most of the time I can’t. I try, tantalized by some review, or recommendation of a friend. But as I read, I begin to feel restless, my mind tugging me back to the world I am creating. I don’t want to spend time in someone else’s world when my own fictional one is reckoning form the shadows!
But in the summer at the cottage, no serious writing is allowed, only the odd note now and then in one of my fancy notebooks.
So what held my interest this summer? What made me stay up late at night while the frogs croaked loudly and the odd loon called over the lake?
Jane Gardham’s Old Filth leads the way– an account of some of the “Raj orphans” of the crumbling British Empire which is by turns engrossing, satirical, funny and sad. These people are out of step with change, and forced into a strange mold by separation from any form of family life at a very early age. Taken off my Malayan nanny, then carted off at age four to learn English with a proper nanny, who later dumped him on a boat to England where he attended his father’s boarding school for the res of his school life. What would become of a person like this? That he survives at all is amazing to me. The title is an acronym, for Failed in London, try Hong Kong. Beautifully written and filled with heartbreaking touches small authentic seeming details, this books stands out as one of my favorites.
Not all the books in my milk carton were successes, however. I had been looking forward to Sarah Waters’ new novel The Little Stranger ever since I heard it was coming out. Young doctor looks after a family of the former squire who has been forced ot sell off much of his land to a developer, but still lives in the crumbling once stately pile. The Doctor use dot be one their tenants. now he becomes a confidant of sorts, falling slowly in love with the daughter. The pace is glacial. The observations so minute that finally I became tired of all the young mans’ angst and gave up. I know that she probably pulled some stunning turn around near the end, bu t I had other books to read. Perhaps another time I may try to finish. I loved all of her other books, especially the first one, Affinity.
I see it will take awhile to get through all these books, though the one’s I found really wanting I shall ignore. Here’s to reading, be it good, bad or indifferent!