Books I read, or finished, in September

Early 2014, I bought three books after reading these extracts in The Daily Mail. (I know. You wouldn’t pick me as a Mail reader. It’s my dirty little secret.)

This month I read two: Dear Loopy, the letters Roger Mortimer write to his son, and Dear Lumpy, the letter to the youngest daughter. Both had me laughing and constantly sharing funny lines with Mr S. Mortimer certainly had a great turn of phrase. Such wit. 

For me, the darkish side is how those the two offspring do nothing worthwhile really, they expect, and are given, entre to a certain lifestyle as they are born to a certain class. Fundraising with the Prince and Princess of Wales. Race meets with the Queen Mother. 

Even with these books, they are really relying on their father for an income. It is his words after all. 

Lumpy’s first husband featured in a ghastly fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Fishing Trip. Apparently it was big in the UK. Not so here. 

If you think the class system and hereditary social position is not too bad, watch this video. Thirty years later, the central “character” is hardly apologetic. He rationalises his excesses and excuses his extreme views, while saying he was stupid. He regrets taking part, not his horrendous views. 

But I digress. This is about reading. And the books are brilliant. I wish I had his turn of phrase. I copied many down that tickled my fancy. Too many to list here. 

I also finished Just a Queen by Jane Caro. I was given a copy last year. I was meant to write a review for a journal. But as soon as I was expected to read and write, it became a job, a chore, and I no longer felt the calling. Except the book is brilliant. It’s book two of what will hopefully be a trilogy. 

I read book one, Just a Girl. I loved it too. Both start with Elizabeth I reflecting on crucial points in her life. The first on the eve of her coronation; the second her angst over the moral dilemmas that lead her to have Mary executed. Aimed at Aussie adolescents, the books are brilliant for those who haven’t studied the Tudors. What I really loved is the presented humanity of Elizabeth. 

I’ve passed my copy on. I know the reader will love it. 

I also read The Stella Prize 2016 winner, The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood. There’s a great review here on the Stella award page. Definitely a compelling read but I agree with Marieka Hardy, heard here. What to do with all this anger? Very disheartening, little optimism about things changing for women. 

When I was at uni I read, and loved, The Handmaid’s Tale. Tried giving it a go about 10 years ago. Couldn’t do it. Couldn’t even see why I loved it.  I don’t know. Maybe I’m too old for dystopian novels? Maybe in youth, you think you will change the world? Now I just see the negativity of these novels ad overwhelming and adding to the dispair of so many. Let’s have something uplifting, something with hope. 

7 thoughts on “Books I read, or finished, in September

  1. I definitely did not pick you as a Mail reader! I got so distracted at reading that that I went off to visit the Mail, wondering, “Is it really as bad as I thought?” And then I forgot to come back and comment because I fell into the hole of one sensational story after another!

    I don’t think I liked dystopian fiction even as a teenager. But love historical fiction. Have read a number of your reviewed books in the past and might put ‘Just a Queen’ on the list.

    Side gossip point, but Mr D worked lots of holiday camps when he was a young’un and Marieke was on lots of them, back when she was a smart and sassy kid (before she became a smart and sassy adult.)

  2. I don’t think I could read the Lupin and Lumpy books after reading the Guardian reviews of them – they sound too sad! I like dystopian fiction because they usually involve the main character rebelling against the system, a la Divergent. Have you read Station Eleven? I loved the sense of hope in it. I am a firm believer that young adult novels should generate hopefulness and positivity toward the future. I was always afraid to read John Marsden in case the stories turned out too bleak.

  3. I would highly recommend The Natural Way of Things. Disturbing. Compelling. Yes – angry – but why not? I think the fact that it makes you think about these issues can only be a good thing. Lots of things for our Book Club to discuss.

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