A bit of a mixed bag this month; lots more fiction than usual, which is unusual, but necessary. My brain needed a bit of a rest from really factual stuff!
*All images from Waterstones
Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town- Mary Beard
This is actually a sneaky inclusion from June that I finished just after I published last month’s books. I read it in the run up to attending the exhibition at the British Museum and it was brilliant to read about some of the things we’d seen in the museum and their history. I love Mary Beard’s approach to history and this book is no exception; witty, full of interesting facts and not afraid to deal with some of the less unsightly areas of Roman life. I would also credit this with being partly responsible for me becoming interested in learning Latin. id bonum est.
The Damnation of John Donellan- Elizabeth Cooke
What do you get when you have a dead, syphilitic aristocrat who is a couple of months’ shy of his 21st birthday (and thus his inheritance), a mother who is perceived as a bit dim and a brother-in-law who, although seems devoted to his wife and children, has a bit of a reputation of a social upstart and past reprobate? The answer: a book very much in the mould of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, where social class, scandal and terrible legal defence combine to produce what could be one of the first high profile cases of miscarriage of justice.
Pompeii- Robert Harris
My boss insisted on lending me this after hearing me talk about the exhibition. I’d never read Robert Harris before (I’ve since been told that this isn’t his best work…) and I found that this book was a bit hit and miss. I found it hard to get into and the female characters were a bit frustrating. However, as a fictional account of Pompeii in the lead up to the eruption, it was very vivid. Also, if you like knowing about Roman aqueduct systems in your fiction, you’re in for a treat…
The Daughter of Time- Josephine Tey
This is another recommendation, this time from our school librarian. The Daughter of Time is apparently quite a famous mystery novel from the 1950s, but if you’re expecting a Miss Marple type, think again. The novel tells the story of a policeman who, in hospital for a few weeks after breaking his leg (ah, the old-style NHS!), is bored. His friend suggests that he do some historical detective work and he chooses the story of the Princes in the Tower. I’ve not really done it justice in my description, but it’s an interesting read, even if some of the theories about Richard III have since been debunked.
Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies- Hadley Freeman
I love reading Hadley Freeman’s work- it’s often like she’s written exactly what’s in my head, but with a slightly more fashionable twist. This book is no exception; a guide through life that is funny and thought provoking (the bits about new mums made me chortle and nod my head in agreement- Hadley later told me on Twitter that she’d written it for her sister who had just had a baby.) What I like about this is that although it’s a feminist book, it doesn’t hit you over the head with it, merely points out common sense. To anyone who isn’t sure if they’re a feminist: read this book.