Books 2014: January

January has been, quite frankly, pants in the Pomfrett household, so I’m ready to welcome February with open arms. One thing January had in its favour though, is that the dire weather and D’s improving sleep patterns meant that I could crack on with some serious reading. A couple of these are hangovers from December, but I managed seven books in the new year, mainly through a combination of excellent writing and brilliant Christmas gifts.

All photos- Waterstones.

The Red Tent- Anita Diamant (my own copy)

The Red Tent (Dec)

This book was a December read; I finished just before Christmas. It’s a really interesting read- it tells the story of Dinah, who in the Bible is the sister of Joseph (he of the technicolour dream coat) and is only notable for being the cause of a slaughter of men. This novel instead tells the story from a feminist perspective and focuses on the four wives of Jacob and their children. Now, I’m not up on my Bible and I had to do a bit of research, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It deals with the lives of women who are barely mentioned and gives an idea of pre-Christian women’s lives. I found it very engrossing (and reviews on Amazon called it ‘blasphemous’, which entertained me.)

The Love of a Lifetime- Mary Fitzgerald (review copy)

The Love of a Lifetime (Jan)

This was my third book from Historical Honey as part of their Secret Book Club and it was probably the one I found hardest to stick with. It felt like it took ages to finish (all over Christmas and then I finally finished it on New Year’s Eve). It tells the story of the life of Richard Wilde, a quite frankly spineless character who never really stands up to anyone. We trace his love affair with his sister in law, his time in Asia as a soldier (with plenty of Japanese related racism) and a bizarre subplot involving his carer in later life, her son and some men. It really wasn’t my cup of tea.

The Black Country- Alex Grecian (my own copy)

The Black Country (Jan)

This is the follow up The Yard and Benn bought it for me for Christmas after I enjoyed its predecessor so much. This time, Inspector Day has been sent to the Midlands to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a family. While there, he comes up against suspicion, superstition and sinking houses, as well as at least one attempted poisoning and some very strange children. Again, I loved this and I can’t wait for the follow up (which I think is being released in May?) This filled a Ripper Street hole for me.

Burial Rites- Hannah Kent (my own copy)

Burial Rites (Jan)

If you only read one book this year, I highly recommend you try this one. Another Christmas present, this was one of those books that haunts you after you’ve read it. It tells the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, condemned to death for murder in 19th Century Iceland. Based on a true story, Agnes’ last months are woven into a haunting and bleak landscape where not everything is always as it seems. The description in this novel is amazing and I enjoyed it so, so much.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World- Bryan Lee O’Malley (library at work)

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Jan)

The second in the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels and just as good as the first. This one gives a bit more detail about Scott pre-film, as well other characters. When I grow up, I want to be Ramona Flowers.

The Other Typist- Suzanne Rindell (my copy)

The Other Typist (Jan)

I enjoyed this tale of the Roaring Twenties, flappers and speakeasies, but the ending utterly confused me. However, I was quite happy to be taken along for the ride through Prohibition-Era New York with Rose and Odalie, two typists at the police precinct. Love, lust, betrayal, lies and confusion mix quite nicely with a couple of gin slings.

Poe: A Life Cut Short- Peter Ackroyd (library copy)

Poe: A Life Cut Short (Jan)

I’m more interested, it seems, in Poe’s life than his actual work, but I think if I met him that we’d never get on. I mean, I know he had a hard life and everything, but jeez. The man was a bit of a walking shambles.

The Silent Wife- A.S.A Harrison (library copy)

The Silent Wife  (Jan)

I was a bit wary of this, as it had been held up as being as good as Gone Girl (the ending of which I hated). I’m pleased to tell you that this is much, much better. There’s a cheating husband, a wife who faces losing everything, a pregnant younger woman and a story that really does keep you gripped  from start to finish; I thought that this was much better written than Gone Girl and the ending satisfied me in a way that Gone Girl didn’t.

Life After Life- Kate Atkinson (review copy)

Life After Life (Jan)

This has an unusual premise; a girl gets multiple chances to live life over and over again. I wondered if I would get to grips with this and enjoy it, but I quickly found that I got to grips with the context and enjoyed tracing the threads of different lives as they wove together. I really liked the main character (Ursula) and was cheering her on throughout. A beautiful book that makes me want to pick up more of Kate Atkinson’s work. Also- it’s just come out in paperback and I really love the design!

I’ve just started reading The Handmaid’s Tale, which I’m really enjoying and I think February might be a month of biographies. What’s on your ‘to be read’ pile?

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