Feb/March/April books

With all the business and “oot and abooting” I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like. Only four books read!

A World of Other People by Steven Carroll is lyrical and moving. It’s very sad. Yes I have caveats. Only one. It’s not a novel that will stay with me. But it was a lyrical read. 


In One Life: My mother’s story Kate Grenville gives an account of her mother’s early life and the lives of the largely voiceless rural workers. Her mother came from country stock but lead a life very different from most women, being a qualified pharmacist. The challenges she faced as a woman, living through the Depressoon and WWII, and having such an angry and unhappy mother, make for interesting reading. I like reading about women who buck the norm, even if it doesn’t lead to total happiness. The alternate would also not lead to happiness anyway. I mean being dependent on a man and housebound caused many women, like Grenville’s grandmother, unhappiness. 


I quite enjoyed The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith.  Reminiscent of Girl with a Pearl Earring and the style of Geraldine Brooks, it has lots of precise information on art, culture and countries. If you want to know about the Golden Age, how colours are constructed and art forgeries, then you’ll learn about it here. 

Crossing countries and centuries, separated but connected stories all resolve by the end. As you expect if you’ve read any of the books that seem to do that now, like The Street Sweeper and The Goldfinch. Storylines like this are clever but too contrived, too formulaic, too naff, for me to be totally satisfied. Though you do get a strong sense of place for Sydney and New York.

My biggest caveat, for a book ostensibly about female characters, the strongest character, the most fleshed out character, is a man. That’s annoying for me. Yes, I enjoyed it but wouldn’t say it was anything brilliant. 


My last book, A Beginner’s Guide to Acting English, will get a post of its own.

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7 thoughts on “Feb/March/April books

  1. I love Geraldine Brooks so might check that one out. But of course again…I am hopeless in my reading of full-length books. I read constantly online with articles and lots of foreign language stuff but only read 1 book this month offline.

    • As is always the case, I have had people who love, love, love it. And people who can’t get through it. And people who say meh, OK. I’ll be interested to see where you fall.

  2. I’m the one that can’t get through it. Still stuck on p.68. I’ve tried at least 3 times but my mind wanders each time and I just don’t know why. Not intrigued by story, not interested in the characters, too descriptive.
    But then again, I DID like The Street Sweeper and The Goldfinch (the latter with caveats – needed editing).
    Enjoyed Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf.

    • Street Sweeper and Goldfinch both needed a lot of editing. And suffered from that modern need for multiple threads over years and places to all resolve neatly and nicely and “satisfyingly” at the end. But that is just bullshit. Too unrealistic.

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