A snapshot of what’s happening in my reading world. Three books! Three genres! Three reviews! My theme was originally started by Book Jotter under the title ‘Reading Looking Thinking’ but I’m only doing the Reading part for this installment.
POTENT ROMANTIC COMEDY
OUR TINY, USELESS HEARTS novel by Toni Jordan
Quote “I couldn’t stop staring at babies and toddlers in the street: their impossibly tiny nails, pores around their noses, the way each hair on their head existed not as an individual but as part of a silken wave.” Janice, Page 125.
Toni Jordan’s new book ‘The Fragments’ has hit the shelves and in preparation I’ve just read her novel ‘Our Tiny, Useless Hearts’ which I think is a clever rom-com story. Jordan has the knack of writing intelligent gems of heartfelt dialogue from the mouths of sincere characters then setting them in a ludicrous situation. Well, Caroline’s house isn’t ludicrous, it’s more a trendy vehicle for British-style upstairs, downstairs naughtiness and relevant sex scenes. The main players are two couples with shaky marriages (think clothes shredding) and the rest have grit in their relationships. Protagonist Janice (with microbiologist syndrome) is meant to be the sensible one but she has just as many hang-ups as those around her. Amid the embarrassing yet hilarious turmoil, Janice’s divorced husband Alec turns up. The tension escalates even higher, a bad case of ‘Who is going to explode into a million pieces first?’. I was entertained by this book of forthright and dysfunctional people who drew me into their lives. GBW.
MINUTIA OF VILLAGE LIFE
THE BOOKSHOP novel by Penelope Fitzgerald
Quote “Browsing is part of the tradition of a bookshop,” Florence told Christine. “You must let them stand and turn things over.” Florence, Chapter 5.
What a sombre little story this is. I try not to read reviews or publicity first so I was quite impressed when I saw that English novelist Penelope Fitzgerald wrote ‘The Bookshop’ in 1978 when in her sixties. That’s a lot of life experience, and later a Booker prize. Fitzgerald had worked for the BBC, taught in schools and ran a bookshop. I felt the struggles of Florence Green, fictional proprietor of the East Suffolk small town bookshop, were genuine. Her droll experiences with young helper Christine Gipping appear to be first-hand. In comparison, I found Mr Brundish, Milo North and the rapper (poltergeist) written along classical lines to add drama. Village life is parochial and Florence battles with Mrs Gamart and her far-reaching resentment against resurrecting Old House as a bookshop. Editor Hermione Lee says that Fitzgerald had a ‘tragic sense of life’ and I agree. But her finesse with dialogue, letter-writing and the unspoken has launched countless tropes. By all means prepare, this book has more thorns than roses. GBW.
THE CHRONICLES OF ST MARY’S series by Jodi Taylor
Quote “My speciality is Ancient Civilisations with a bit of medieval and Tudor stuff chucked in for luck. As far as I was concerned, 1851 was practically yesterday.” Maxwell, Book 5.
The term preferred by Dr Bairstow, Director of the Institute of Historical Research at St Mary’s Priory, is ‘contemporary time’. Jodi Taylor, author of ‘The Chronicles of St Mary’s’ series, writes about a humorous herd of chaos-prone historians who investigate major historical events. They are led by intrepid historian Madeleine Maxwell (aka Max) Chief Operations Officer. After costume fittings, the historians travel in pods with armed guards to places like Ancient Egypt, Mount Vesuvius, Great Fire of London, etc, to observe and take notes while Time Police loom threateningly. Best read in chronological order but Dramatis Thingummy explains characters and each story unfolds, threefold sometimes, as another disaster hits the team. Historians die; Dr Tim Peterson gets bubonic plague; at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Bard himself catches alight. There are currently 22 books, in long and short format. If, like me, you have ever daydreamed of visiting an historic moment in olden times, these books are for you. GBW.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
One post with three acts READING, LOOKING, THINKING, an idea started by Book Jotter, innovative blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley. Her invitation to participate offers a slight change from Thinking to Doing if that suits your purpose. I can love, like or loathe in three short bursts! GBW.