26 September 2014

Aftermath


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



13 comments:

  1. It sounds like you've done some meaty reading this month. I tend to read much lighter, airy fairy books, as all my reading is done in bed. I can only usually manage a chapter or two before my eyelids start to drop.

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    1. My reading is done at bedtime too! I go to bed early to give myself plenty of reading time, that said I still drop off after a few pages some nights. The last book I read was so compelling I had trouble getting to sleep whilst reading it!

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  2. An interesting post. I really struggle to read fiction lately, good or bad. I struggle to suspend disbelief and I'm very picky about the quality of writing. Non fiction seems to suit me better, a well written biography always being a good choice. But I'm always happy to read other's recommendations as I search for the book that will reignite my passion for make believe, I think that since I lost it I'm missing something.

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    1. I went through a period of not reading any fiction when my children were babies, I had so little time to read that I lost the plot, if the stories that is! Reading non fiction meant that I could pick it up sporadically and it still made some sense. I also wanting my reading to be learning too, it that makes sense. I have really go into reading fiction this year, the best so far has to be The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri Murari it is a fictional account of a cricket club that really did exist and the book is based on a event that happened. A wonderful read.

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  3. I am an avid reader. Thanks for the reviews/recommendations xx

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  4. All of those books sound pretty interesting. How interesting that 70%Acrylic30%Wool has nothing to do with knitting - guess you shouldn't judge a book by its title.
    You are lucky to have such a well stocked library. We only have a small english section and the books are quite old. I will keep my eyes peeled at my next book club swap for any of your book recommendations.

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  5. Though I absolutely love literary novels, I have periods in which I prefer biographies over fiction. I'm in one of those periods right now.

    Thanks for the recommendations, though; will definitely be looking into them. xxx

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  6. I have often wondered the same thing, how people can pick up the pieces of the aftermath of war. My primary interest in university was early to mid 20th Century British Literature so I read a great deal about the First and Second World Wars and I was often struck by how little I could truly appreciate living through a war, being bombed and invaded. I will give some of these titles a look and enjoyed reading your reviews. It's funny, too, because much like you, most of the books I take out are from the "same" shelf cleverly positioned between the children's section and the checkout desk. Some experiences are universal regardless of the continent we live upon:) xo

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  7. I loved Burial Rites - it wasn't something I expected to enjoy, but I really was blown away by it - for me it's exciting to think it was written by an Australian!

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  8. This is an impressive list. 'Burial Rites' sounds good and I've loved Kate Mosse's other books so Citadel is on my wish list too.

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  9. Hi, popping over to say hello as you were kind enough to visit my blog. I often wonder how on earth people managed to find a way to reforge their lives after living through a war. Almost unimaginable. Your reads sound intriguing, I will check out a couple of them x

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  10. I have never read Kate Mosse. I don't know why exactly but it is probably because the books are not right next to the kiddie section in the library :) I remember this so well, keeping an eye on the young ones whilst quickly picking out some books, more or less at random. I didn't finish Burial Rites, I just couldn't get into it. I cheated and read the last few pages first, that might explain why. Happy reading. Cx

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  11. It is me again. I meant to say that I might try to find the Da Grado book in our Italian section. A bit of practice would do me good and I like the sound of the book. x

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