I love having a nosy at what other people read, mainly because it gives me tons of ideas as to what I should read next. I’ve been reading a lot lately, because I’m on maternity leave and there’s only so much time you can spend on the internet/so many documentaries about serial killers on TV catch up (which, by the way, have given me such a complex. What if Fidget grows up to be a serial killer? Benn’s answer? “Disown him.” Brilliant. Helpful.) I also know that my reading time will be dramatically cut when said baby arrives, so am making the most of now.
I’ve found, for the first time in a long time, that I’m reading an equal mix of fiction and non-fiction and quite enjoying it. I do tend to be drawn to certain types of books- I love historical fiction and I tend to enjoy novels that have a strong female character at the centre, although a couple of books I’ve read recently have had male protagonists.
(Please note: all pictures are from Waterstones, as I’ve lent a lot of my books out once I’ve finished!)
Restoration- Rose Tremain- I read this book straight after reading the Nell Gwyn biography featured below. I will read pretty much anything involving Charles II (because he was such a dude.) It tells the story of a doctor who finds himself working in Charles’ court until strange twists of fate mean he falls from grace entirely. Entertaining and one of those books where the protagonist is very likeable, I’ve found out that there is a sequel, which is quite exciting. I devoured this.
Death and the Devil- Frank Schatzing– this is another historical novel, although this time set in 1300s Cologne. It tells the story of a murder and the battle of a young thief who witnesses the crime to stay alive. It took me a while to get into it and I’m not sure how much I liked it, although by the end I was gripped. It’s a big book (about 450 pages) that takes a while to really get into its stride. It reminded me a bit of ‘The Hangman’s Daughter’, another German book translated into English.
The Little Stranger- Sarah Waters- I’ve just started reading this and, so far, so good. I fell in love with Waters’ writing after reading The Night Watch earlier this year, so I have high hopes (although I’ve been told it’s a bit scary?!)
Nell Gwynn: A Biography- Charles Beauclerk– I’m always fascinated by women in royal circles and Nell has always been one of my interests. This is a gossipy, fun book written by one of her descendants and tells the story of how she rose from working-class, bawdy house waitress to one of Charles II’s favourite women. I loved it and, although the author is bound to be a bit biased, thought that Nell’s personality shone through.
Mistresses: A History of the Other Woman- Elizabeth Arnott– Now, I’m not obsessed with mistresses (or books with bosoms on the cover), but reading about Nell lead me to this book. It’s sort of a compendium of short biographies of famous ‘other women’ from Biblical times (there were mistresses in the Bible even!) to gangster’s molls and movie stars such as Gloria Swanson and Marilyn Monroe. It’s a great book to dip in and out of and shows how women’s roles have changed (and sometimes not) as society has. The chapter on mistresses in literature was a bit boring though- and I say that as an English teacher.
Agatha Christie: An English Mystery- Laura Thompson– I hated this. Everything about it. I’ve never really read a Christie novel, but we all know she decamped to Harrogate for a bit and there was that Doctor Who episode about her that time (where she was much more likeable than in this book.) Agatha came across as spoilt, uppity and cold and I couldn’t bear her. I also couldn’t bear the fact that the BIOGRAPHER wanted to write a novel. No. Just no. If you’re writing a factual account of somebody’s life, don’t imagine what they were feeling. Otherwise, you’re just annoying me. I didn’t finish this book, I got bored after the second marriage.
Wishlist- I don’t really have much in the way of books on my wishlist at the moment, but I would like Caitlin Moran’s Moranthology (have asked my mother-in-law for it for Christmas!) and I do have Andrew Miller’s Pure on my Kindle. I’m trying not to be too ambitious!
What have you been reading? Any recommendations?