The past month has been a good one in many ways – sunshine, holidays, day trips and meals out all featured as did making time for hobbies. Housework, social media and routines took a backseat.
As a result, books were taken out more often than usual and I made a good bit of progress with the 40 by 40 reading challenge I set myself at the beginning of the year. The holdiay mood has come home with us too and I have found myself having early nights so as to read, now that I am back in the swing of it.
Last week I finished my 10th book of the challenge! My last update was entitled 6 Down, 34 To Go. The four books I have read since then are:
The Girl At The Lion D’Or by Sebastian Faulks
The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff
An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge
Again, Anne Tyler features this month. But I have been adventurous too and not stuck with what I know. Fates & Furies took me outside my usual reading range. I had heard of neither the author not the title when the book arrived in the post one day.
But let’s start from the beginning. I have mentioned before that Sebastian Faulks is an author whose books have made an impression on me. Sadly, The Girl at the Lion D’Or failed to impress me as much as other titles of his I have read. That said, it was still a very good read.
The story is short, moving and believable. The characters are very real and the style of writing gave me a clear mental picture of each of the scenes. The hotel where Anne (the girl of the title) works, the house she cleans at, the apartment she lives in, the cabin in which she is seduced by a married man, the trenches of World War One where her father fought, the office of her agoraphobic employer are all described in such a way that you can easily imagine them without having the feeling you are reading a description. For fear of giving away too much of the story, let me just say that I was left wondering what became of Anne. When a character remains in your thoughts for a long time after you have read the book, it ust have been a well-written book.
The Amateur Marriage fell into my hands in the holiday home we stayed in and tells the tale of the marriage two people fell into without much thought. War, this time the Second World War, is the catalyst. We hear both sides of the story of the marriage. As in real life, it is hard to tell which side gives the truer account. But then again, what’s the truth? In marriage there are so many ups and downs, such intense feelings, countless changes in curcumstance, mood and looks that it is easy to sympathise with both parties’ accounts of their shared life. All in all an excellent account of everyday married life.
Marriage is also the central subject in Fates & Furies and the parallels between the two books are just coming to me now as I reflect on both. Fates & Furies is two books in one – his side of the story and hers. The first book within the book is Lotto, the husband’s account of his life, beginning with his parent’s relationship and moves on chonologically from there, detailing his youth, meeting his wife and covering the years of their marriage.
The second book is Mathilde’s account of her life as Lotto’s wife, flitting back and fort between her childhood, her life with Lotto and her life after Lotto. The two halves of the book are quite different in style, the stories beng told by two people.
Overall the book was a good read. It kept me wondering where it was going and made me want to read it at every opportunity. It also took me outside of my usual range of books. The style of writing didn’t apppeal to me at all – too modern – but it didn’t put me off enough to stop me reading.
An Awfully Big Adventure, the most recent book I’ve read, has very little to do with marriage but a lot to do with lust, loss and uncertainty. Set shortly after the end of the Second World War the book tells the story of Stella, a girl of sixteen who is starting out working in the world of theatre. There is a lot of untold background which is hinted at and which I found intriquing. Some elements are elaborated on, others remain unexplained. The story is sad, realistic and, again, one that has me wondering about Stella as if she were a real girl.
At the moment I am on the look out for something worth reading. After this bout of great books, I’m not in the mood of reading for the sake of it. I want another really good book, so leave a comment if you have a suggestion.
[Disclaimer: Penguin Random House Ireland sent me Fates & Furies as a gift. I was not obliged to review it. All words, thoughts, opinions and photos are my own.]