November Reading

Another month of reading comes to a close and although the quantity of books remains a bit sparse, the quality was a delightful surprise…

THE CRANES DANCE by Meg Howrey

Published: 2012

My Rating: 4/5

I was initially pulled towards THE CRANES DANCE through booktube, and it definitely did not disappoint. Although it took me longer to read than normal – bearing in mind it’s short length and my unfortunate obligations to university – I never felt out of touch with the novel’s narrator, Kate. Howrey writes Kate in a way that makes her so real I swear I could hear her voice in my head, and I truly felt as if I was getting to know her. She is both compassionate and frustrated, determined and absent-minded as she struggles to juggle family-life and work-life. In essence, she completely won me over.

Now to the hard part – why isn’t this a five star read, if I liked it so much? Honestly, I was kind of dissatisfied with the ending of the novel. It wasn’t necessarily that it was unrealistic or even too easy. I think as a reader I was hoping for something a bit more tragic and dramatic, when what I was given was something uncertain but in it’s own way, very final. I suppose that’s says more about this reader than the book, though, so take my opinion with a grain of salt on this one…

 

LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov

Published: 1955

My Rating: 4/5

Interestingly enough, LOLITA was on my curriculum for one of my classes this semester and the reason I took the class in the first place. I have read Nabokov’s controversial book before, but re-reading was honestly an incredible experience, especially going into it with an academic mind set.

LOLITA needs no introduction, and I’m sure many people who have read it may be surprised that I genuinely like the book.  The premise of my course is to look at novels from the late 1800’s to the present, and dissect what innocence means and how it is seen to be “lost” within the American setting. LOLITA presents an interesting viewpoint in this context because we are not looking at the girl of Lo – in fact, we see very little of her at all – but how Humbert himself views innocence and how he tries to preserve his own.

 

RICH IN LOVE by Josephine Humphreys

Published: 1988

My Rating: 3.5/5

The final book for my American Innocence class, our seventeen-year-old narrator Lucille observes her family as they start to come apart and her life seems more fiction than fact. However, it is Lucille who ends up guiding each person on their path towards a desired life, and in fact it is not just Lucille’s youth that we see disintegrating, but rather the whole family.

Part of what I loved about RICH IN LOVE is what Lucille considers herself to be, which – as the title suggests – is rich. Though she sees her personal world starting to come apart at the seams, there is a pivotal point in the novel where she distinctly says that she ‘was rich in love, even though no one could see it.’ It is this idea of Lucille not having yet been in love, but knowing love because of those that surround her that acts as the moral of the entire story and the pull towards her as both a character and a protagonist. Humphreys novel was a rarity for me because although it was assigned to me on a purely academic level, it appealed to me as a casual reader, and felt very little like another piece of homework I had to do before starting to study for exams.

 

IF WE WERE VILLAINS by M. L. Rio

Published: 2017

My Rating: 3.5/5

Anyone who is familiar with my reading taste will not be at all surprised to know that I was very intrigued to read IF WE WERE VILLAINS. Having been compared to one of my favourite novels, THE SECRET HISTORY, I wanted to know just how Rio’s story’s complexity and obsessive nature would match up to Tartt’s. However, the problem with such large comparisons means that, similar to how I feel with VILLAINS, it can lead to some disappointing conclusions.

Rio is clearly an extremely talented writer who is incredibly versed in Shakespeare (that was her speciality in academia, after all), but unfortunately it is the admiration for Shakespeare’s works that gets in the way in this novel. So much of the text in IF WE WERE VILLAINS are verbatim lines from various works of Shakespeare that throughout the entire novel I found myself constantly thinking ‘I want to hear more from you!’. I would be caught up in Rio’s beautiful prose and suddenly find myself halted by large chunks of sonnets or theatre dialogue that, ultimately, I would eventually find myself skim reading.

For a debut, IF WE WERE VILLAINS is still a stunning display of Rio’s capability as a writer, as she does weave a layered story of, as Cynthia D’arprix Sweeney quotes on the cover, ‘love, friendship, and obsession.’ In the future, though, I would hope that Rio gains more confidence in her own writing and relies less on the work of others.

 

 

Due to the sheer amount of work I had in November, I was only able to get in four books this month. However, I have officially finished classes and with an early finish to exams this year, I am extremely excited to see what December holds! Read on, fellow bibliophiles!

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