26 September 2014
There are some world events that are difficult for those who were not alive at the time to comprehend. I wrote of this last month after reading Citadel by Kate Mosse a book set during WWII. What anyone witnessed or lived through at that time I cannot begin to understand along with the continued effect in the years that followed. I finished a book this month which tackles this subject. It is the third book in a trilogy, a common theme amongst my reading of late. The Summer Garden by Paullina Simons follows a young couple as they forge a new life in the US after the war. The first two books in the trilogy, The Bronze Horseman and Tatiana and Alexander are set during the war and follow the couple during those years. I have been amazed that some of the reviews I have read about this last book criticise it for 'spoiling' the relationship between the main characters. How anyone could live through the events such as they have, and most likely millions of others despite this being a work of fiction, and not be effected by I am baffled by these comments. This book takes this subject head on and deals with it very well and quite believably, it is an area that is not much written about as few wish to talk about it or discuss it, a fact which has most likely led to further problems in itself.
Hace you ever had that feeling, when someone has given you some bad news, that the carpet has been pulled right out from under you feet and you are watching the world carry on whilst you seems to have temporarily grounded. This is the central premise of 70% Acrylic 30% Wool By Viola Da Grado a book which has nothing to do with knitting. The central character, Camilla, learns at the start of the book that her father has died. Her mother in her grief ceases to talk or care for herself so Camilla, who had just left for university returns to care for her. They communicate with looks and body language. Camillia slowly unravels (the only parallel with the title) she meets Wen with whom she falls in love, he teaches her Chinese but is unable to reciprocate. The relationship unravels her further until in the end she has seemingly changed places with her mother, who has found a way to move on. Despite its gloomy and slightly depressing nature I really enjoyed this book, it is not meant to be a work of joy. It was marred by one, unexpected, reason. This book is written in Italian and has been translated by an American Publisher. The book is set in Leeds, a Northern English town. The 'english' is American-English which I have nothing against but it jarred for me in a book set in England.
Another premise that I find it difficult to comprehend the effect of is to live in a country where what you read, write and watch is monitored and censored. Twilight of the Eastern Gods by Ismail Kadare tackles this very subject. Although a work of fiction it is based on the authors own experience as a student in Russia at the Gorky Institute of World Literature, I had heard of this institution before I read this book although I cannot for the life of me remember where I came across it. Whilst he was a student there Boris Pasternak, a Russian citizen, is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his novel Doctor Zhivago. It had not been published in Russia as it was deemed anti Soviet and a rejection of socialist realism. I picked this book up in the Library as I thought it sounded interesting. Was it? Honestly? Not really, I found it rather disappointing.
The books I pick up to read in the library, where most of my reading material seems to come from these days, are usually chosen from those are closest to the children's section or the books near to where you return books where my library has a quick choice and a new section. The last book I chose from the new section was one that I thought I would read this month but I had to return it before I had read much as it had been placed on request by someone else, how dare they! A quick choice book turned out to be one that I had read about on other blogs recently. Books are a very personal thing, don't you think? Like the clothes we wear, the films we watch or choose not to, the places we call home, what one person likes will not be liked by another. I love to read about what others are reading, it is often where I discover a favourite author has a new book out, but don't make a note of the titles, usually, as I prefer to choose books by picking them up and reading a bit first. The final book I have read this month is Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I haven't read a book so fast in ages. It is compelling, gripping and steeped in history. I loved the insight into 19th century life in Iceland, harsh though it was. I loved the fact that it is based on an actual event, though the narrative is mostly fictional. It is both gentle and harsh at the same time. Wonderful.
I read a lot this month which has surprised me. Finding myself without a library book to read when finishing Burial Rites I searched my own shelves for something to read. I have settled on a non fiction book which is likely to be all I read in October, it is a meaty book. The Secret Life of Trees by Colin Tudge. I hope to learn a lot.
Sharing with A Year in Books