May Books

Oct. 11th, 2013 03:24 pm
slemslempike: (books: slemslempike)
[personal profile] slemslempike
Betty of Turner House - Joanna Lloyd
Woman at Point Zero - Nawal El Saadawi
Belinda - Rhoda Broughton
Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel
The Children - Edith Wharton
Sinking, Stealing - Jan Clausen
Night Birds on Nantucket - Joan Aiken
An Abundance of Katherines - John Green

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given more than four months have passed, I cannot remember all that much about Betty of Turner House. This suggests it was not as funny as the Catherine series - I think it was an earlier book, so that makes sense. I don't remember being disappointed, so perhaps it was just okay. This is why I make regular resolutions to keep doing my book posts in a timely fashion. I don't know the why for why I so often fail.

Woman at Point Zero was mentioned in a seminar I attended way, way back, so I was pleased to find it at a reasonable price in a charity shop. it's an Egyptian novel about a woman who is in prison for murder. It traces her journey there, from being unable to retain a job without accepting sexual harrassment from her boss, to becoming and kept woman, then a full-service sex worker. She achieves limited freedoms because of the money she receives, but it crashes around her and she never manages to escape the oppressive controls of family, social mores, and eventually her pimp, who is her murder victim. It was very, very good.

Belinda in Belinda is overshadowed by her very vivacious, flirty sister, who is on the latest of many engagements. Belinda finds that she slowly falls in love with a young man who is not just Sarah's hanger-on. After he leaves suddenly to go back to Britain, she waits for a word from him. When none comes she sets her face against the world, and marries Sarah's horrible old Professor fiance, who only wants Belinda as a workhorse to read to him and carry out the duties of a Victorian secretary-maid. Then, of course, Belinda hears from her young man, and has to decide whether or not she will leave her secure, respectable marriage, and run away with him. VV good.

I am still eager to read more by Hilary Mantel about Cromwell, but I didn't like Bring Up the Bodies quite as much as I'd enjoyed Wolf Hall. I think I missed the more familial aspects of it, though I did enjoy understanding slightly more of the history. Divorced BEHEADED! I think I posted before that I found he, Cromwell rather intrusive and hadn't minded Cromwell being an unmarked he at all.

The Children reminded me strongly of something else, but I can't work out what. A young man is on a ship, and his eye is caught by a young woman/girl, who is surrounded by other children. It turns out that these are the children of various pairings of adults centred around two of his university/school friends. He is rather shocked by the way in which the parents are so laissez faire with the children, and can't seem to recognise their needs, so he gets involved. He gets rather too involved with the eldest girl, who though she is wordly has no idea that he loves her, and then refuses him very prettily at the end, just as he has rejected another relationship because he can't not think about her.

I got to the end of Sinking, Stealing, and had to post a plaintive request to Facebook, because there were some pages missing at the end of the book, and I was expecting more closure on the story. Having now read the final two pages in Elvis Shakespeare, which I thought might be the sort of place to have an old out of print Women's Press novel, I now know that there wasn't much more closure, but symbolically I feel much better about it. I can't remember anyone's names, so I'm making them up. Jo has recently lost her longterm partner, Alice. Alice's daughter (Lucy) from a previous marriage lived with them, and was brought up by both of them from a very young age. On Alice's death, Lucy goes back to live with her father and his new wife, who don't really get or approve of Jo. The father wants to move Lucy to another state, and to sever all ties with Jo, who he doesn't see as family. Desperate, Jo kidnaps Lucy (with Lucy's knowledge) and they go on the run. Eventually, Lucy can't cope with being on the run, and doesn't really understand that she has had to choose between two parents, and calls her father, and her grandmother. The end of the book is Lucy and Jo on the plane on the way back.

Nightbirds on Nantucket has Dido caught up by a boat on its way to Nantucket - the captain asks Dido to help coax his daughter out of he cupboard in which she has been hiding. They are going to leave the daughter with her aunt, who turns out not to be her aunt, but a woman who is planning to fire an enormous gun to carry out a dastardly plot. All is saved, though.

I enjoyed An Abundance of Katherines, mostly, though having started reading John Green with A Fault in Our Stars I was setting myself up for slight disappointment at best. It tells the story of a boy and his friend on a roadtrip, after the boy has his heart broken by one of the series of Katherines he's dated in his young life. They go to the desert, and meet a woman and do some work for her gathering oral histories. Colin likes the woman's daughter, even though she is not called Katherine. It was very good in places, and nicely told, but it just didn't stand out very much, possibly because the narrative of teenage boy, clever, slight outcast, looking for love, feels a little overtold.


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