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Welcome to this week’s blogpost. Here’s our roundup ofyour comments and photosfrom last week.
To start, “a gorgeous book hiding in plain sight”. SydneyH is delighted to recommend Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock:
The 1975 film adaptation is very famous in Australia, and there was a more recent television series featuring Natalie Dormer, from Game of Thrones. If I was aware that the cinematic version was based on a novel, I must have presumed it was a crude work, because I was surprised by how lush the writing was when I opened it. The narrative is set in an Italianate mansion in the Australian countryside, a young ladies’ college. On an excursion into the bush, three senior girls and a governess fail to return from a walk, and this scandal sets everything in motion. I think it has much in common with Lady Audley’s Secret, which was such a favourite of mine last year. In particular, I feel there is a sort of tongue-in-cheek humour running through it that is really refreshing. I’m delighted to finally be able to recommend a short Australian classic.
George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books have been entertaining paulburns:
Game of Thrones is pretty much the book of the first series of the TV show, with some minor differences. After that, though the books differ considerably to the TV show. Part of the fun of reading the books nowadays is just how different they are to the TV series. It’s a nice, easy read.
It stands up remarkably well. I’d say that if it appeared today, in manuscript form from the cupboard of dying publishing house, and was revealed as an unknown Wilkie Collins, it would be received as such without demur, and perhaps be thought of as his best novel. My thanks to the BBC for their squalid mess of a dramatisation, which sent me back to a minor masterpiece.
Meanwhile, Dark Matter by Michelle Paver has provided LeatherCol’s “annual winter ghost story thing”:
I think it’s really very good. No hint of Stoker’s Dracula queer flamboyance and craziness (however sexy), and not quite as rooted in the traditional genre as Susan Hill, just beautifully paced and written and unsettling. And very touching on gay longing (I don’t know if I should have made a spoiler alert or not on that … it was as clear as day to me from the off).
The Godmother by Hannelore Cayre (translated from the French by Stephanie Smee) has entertained katcalls:
I am reliably told that this was a big hit in France and I can see why. It’s a zippy little read about how a woman who translates Arabic for the French police involves herself in a drug deal. Some good black humour, and a real potboiler. I may read it in the original French to dust off my language skills.
BaddHamster has decided to read Zadie Smith’s debut White Teeth:
Its a real page turner (although I’m still dumbfounded by how someone in their 20’s could write such an ambitious and accomplished book). The story is wonderful, intertwining different generations of (mainly) two families living in London over several decades. So far, my only quibble- and its a small one really- is that there’s a section where the style changes, the narrator becomes more intrusive and it feels like its been lifted directly from Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children … Other than that, it’s a really great read and I’ll be sorry to turn the last page. Smith is fast becoming one of my favourite contemporary authors.
Dorothy Whipple’s first novel from 1927, Young Anne, “ can probably be termed ‘solidly middlebrow,’” says interwar:
The story of a girl growing up and coming into womanhood in a northern English mill town has all the right ingredients: family, friends, first love, frustrated love. We are not however down with the clogs and shawls; Anne Pritchard’s father is a solicitor, unbending and unhappy, her mother distant, indolent and uninterested in her husband and children… Told with freshness and warmth, the story raises issues that many readers will have faced in some form during their lives, in particular how regrets are, or should be, dealt with.
Finally, Charles Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit has worked its magic on orie1227:
I must admit I’m surprised by how much I loved it. As one of Dickens’ less well-received efforts I was braced for it perhaps not hitting the heights, however it’s been such an enjoyable read. Like all of his books I’ve read to date it has a neatly packaged, intertwining story that reveals itself in a pleasing manner, but the real star of the show here is the many wonderful true Dickensian characters present-from your showpiece villains Pecksniff and Jonas, through to Mrs Gamp, Mark Tapley and Tom Pinch, all of them just jump off the page and into life in true Dickens style.
What could be better?
Interesting links about books and reading
- Alasdair Gray on The Art Of Fiction in the Paris Review.
- Blockbuster books have been bombing at the box office.
- Kate seems to have been selected for her role of princess because she was irreproachable: as painfully thin as anyone could wish, without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character.” Hilary Mantel on royal bodies in 2013.
- Cooking with Elizabeth Jane Howard.
- “What your choice of dialogue tags says about you,” blubbered Christopher Hoffmann.
If you’re on Instagram, now you can share your reads with us: simply tag your posts with the hashtag #BloomgistBooks, and we’ll include a selection in this blog. Happy reading!