Thursday, October 20, 2016

What I've Been Reading Lately - October edition

Trying to pull myself out of the non-writing abyss here...trying so hard!

What have you been reading lately?

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

I've read so many amazing reviews of the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante that I had to read them...they've just been on my TBR list for a year or two now! I was instantly drawn into this story of two female friends in 1950's Naples. Growing up in a tough neighbourhood, with tragedy and violence always at their side, the girls forge a bond because of their shared intellectual gifts. At times you can't tell which girl is the brilliant friend, the enigmatic Lila or the quiet but astute narrator, Elena. It's just written in such a provoking, yet completely engrossing way - it's unlike anything I've ever read. This first book of four is on the shorter side and I just flew through it, if you like complex characters with emotional power you will love this book.

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

I read this book alongside Jane Steele, so the combined effect was a touch too much Jane Eyre fan fiction, but this story was surprisingly enjoyable. A descendent of Charlotte Bronte, Samantha finds herself studying at Oxford under a dashing but sarcastic tutor and realizes she's got more than a few skeletons in her family's closet that she needs to work out for herself. This book read like a good rom-com with a literary panache, I thought it was a fun but smart read.

Mike and Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse  (currently out of print but in public domain, hence this terrible cover)

This was my P.G. Wodehouse read of the summer because I always need a P.G. Wodehouse in the summertime. A farcical story of two boys at boarding school it's quintessentially British. You instantly recognize the setting of quirky boys at boarding school because so many have copied Wodehouse's perfect representation. A quick read, but probably not for first time P.G. Wodehouse readers, make sure to read Jeeves first!

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

I've recommended this book to all my friends, and I think it will continue to be the book I recommend to practically everyone; it's just a delightful read that shows the beauty of truth in surprising ways. Miss Prim begins a new job in a small Spanish town, but not just any town, a town where all the inhabitants have a completely unique view of how life should be lived. Her employer also happens to be an intriguing, and dashing man of faith she completely misunderstands. What follows is a really enjoyable conversion story in the shape of a romantic comedy. We also discussed it on this week's new episode of the podcast, take a listen!

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller, even if the ending wasn't perfect. I thought the pacing and writing were of such a great quality that I couldn't put it down. I wouldn't recommend reading on a flight as it surrounds a plane crash involving very rich people and the resulting investigation, but if you enjoy thrillers then you'll enjoy this book. After I read this book I began watching Fargo, which is the tv show written, produced, and directed by Noah Hawley and was completely enamoured with the quality of storytelling. Obviously Hawley has some amazing gifts for writing and after watching both seasons of Fargo he's entered the hallowed ground of Matthew Weiner and Vince Gilligan of geniuses who make astounding television.

Joining Modern Mrs Darcy for Quick Lit, because I have a compulsion to write about books and I need the monthly reminder! 

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  1. I wanted to Like Miss Prim so badly ... it just ... I ... it was so badly written. (Or maybe just badly translated?) I mean yes they talked about Chesterton and Little Women and said some lovely things, but the book as a whole, I just couldn't ... Please don't hate me!!

  2. I look forward to this post every month! I need to start a new book because WHAT ELSE are you going to do when it SNOWS in October. Other than drink wine...
    I liked the book Miss Prim but I could see where the writing style could lose people. Prudencia annoyed me a little though!

  3. I've been waiting for the Prim podcast! Thanks for the heads up. :)

  4. Just put Miss Prim on hold at the library! Can't wait to read it!

  5. I have been wanting to read The Madwoman Upstairs but want to read a Bronte sister book first so that I can understand some of it better.

    Here are my Sept reads:

  6. I finally got off the hold list for "My Brilliant Friend" on OverDrive and I'm about halfway through. Well worth the wait! You're right about "The Madwoman Upstairs" - a good rom-com with literary panache. Still waiting on Miss Prim, and look forward to listening to the podcast once I finish it. Thanks for the great recommendations, as always!

  7. I was trying to post comments on Elena Ferrante and the weather. Sorry if I succeeded and this proves repetitious, but everything just jumped on me.

    I read "My Brilliant Friend" this winter as it happens. You are right, its wonderful stuff. I keep waiting, however, for the part where I can assess the length, depth and weight of her anti-clericalism/anti-Catholicism. Maybe in Italy attacks on the Church are passe. I recall that the priest in charge of the protagonist's college is censorious, and paranoid about communism. This may be a fair portrait, but since the scene is 1960s Naples, I am a bit mystified by the absence of any overtly devout characters. I don't recall any. Ferrante should at least flatter us with a critique.

    Then there is the weather. It's 80 degrees here today, which is not normal for Louisville in mid November. This is the warmest autumn I can ever recall by far and I am no longer young. I was thinking about how the weather in Canada might be improving, but your blog among other sources makes the Canadian government sound very discouraging for a Catholic. Not that we don't have our own political shortcomings here in the US of course. It has not rained in Kentucky in two months. If an environmental catastrophe actually ensues would you advise emigration to Canada?


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