The catching up begins now!
Helena by Evelyn Waugh
This was my Waugh pick of the year and if the title doesn't describe it enough it's the fictionalized life of St. Helena. I love Waugh. I love saints. I didn't love this book. The story is well done of course, and the writing is impeccable, but I didn't love it like I thought I would. I wish I had read this one with a book club (I know it's a Well-Read Mom book club pick!) I feel like I missed the heart of it somehow and St. Helena just didn't grab me like I assumed I would. I remember reading Edmund Campion, also by Waugh, and was blown away! That book probably remains the best novel of a saints life I've ever read. If you've read Helena please tell me what I'm missing. It's still a wonderful book I wouldn't hesitate to recommend because it's a good story, but I just feel like I'm missing what makes it really great.
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
This was probably the book I hated the most last year. And I don't like writing about books I hate...oh wait...I sorta do. It's the chronicle of a young, soon-to-be-disillusioned, woman moving to New York City and working as a server at a top restaurant and the ensuing drama of the staff and those who come to the restaurant. This book is pretty much everything I detest about our generation. The lack of meaning and integrity, the willingness to do whatever it takes to get ahead, the random sex, the lack of principles, the disillusionment that gives us pseudo-wisom. The writing is ok, I like the setting of a restaurant which is why I wanted to read it in the first place, but the story is just....nauseating? It was genuinely hailed as a great first novel and a defining novel for millennials which further depresses me.
Burial Rites By Hannah Kent
The story of a woman accused of murder in nineteenth century Iceland is just as dark and morose as you would expect! But somehow it's captivating and conveys a real empathy as well as a good story. The atmosphere was also one of the best parts of this book and somehow rural and rugged Iceland becomes a character. It somehow reminded me of The Light Between Oceans because of how much a part the sense of place took in the book as well as the emotionally challenging story. If you liked that novel then you might want to pick this one up too.
Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey
I was on an Indian memoirs kick last summer and this was part of it. Although this memoir of the author's childhood in India as it gained it's independence was descriptive of life in India at the time, it didn't dive deeply into the authors own thoughts. I felt it was a perspective I had never heard before, and I enjoyed it for that reason. India still fascinates me so if you've got any good titles send them my way!
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
The second of the Neapolitan novels was more compelling than the first. I think what helped me in reading this book is that I read it in large chunks on a flight and it really helped me enter into the story better. These novels aren't for casually reading five minutes here, five minutes there. I think they are best read by immersing yourself in them as best you can, then you can really see how far you are falling into their world and how well written they are. I was alternatively shocked and proud as the characters entered adulthood and it just pulled me in again. I wish I could more articulately express how well these books delve into feminine psychology. If you've read them let's talk!
Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for Quick Lit once again.
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