….. which means that it’s time I looked forwards and backwards at my reading.
March was a much better reading month than February.
I read four books from my pool for Reading Ireland Month
Broken Harbour by Tana French got me off to an excellent start. Yes it’s a crime novel, but it’s also a state of the nation novel, or quite simply a top flight contemporary novel I was tempted to start on Tana French’s novel for a while, but I settled for savouring the prospect for a while longer because I had lots of other interesting possibilities.
I had a lovely time In The Vine Country with Somerville & Ross. They were excellent company, they brought the trip to life on the page, and I’m looking forward to reading more of their books, both fiction and non fiction.
Then there was The Wild Geese by Bridget Boland; a historical family story told in letters. It’s out of print and a ‘pick it up if you see a copy’ book, rather that a ‘go out and find a copy’ book.
Maura Laverty is out of print too, but definitely worthy of reissue. Alone We Embark is a lovely, human drama; and a few weeks on from reading it the people and their stories are still swirling in my head, because Maura Laverty has art of making her characters feel like friends and neighbours.
I started ‘The Quest for Fame’ by Charlotte Riddell too, but I found that it was a book best enjoyed slowly, so that one will run on into April.
I read two very good crime novels. I’ve already written about The Case is Closed by Patricia Wentworth, a lovely period piece for those who like their stories character driven and don’t mind if they work out the solution before the book gets to it. And I will right about ‘Humber Boy B’, a brand new novel by Ruth Dugdall, so for now I’ll just say that I was very impressed.
I had mixed feelings about my other contemporary reads: I’ll just sat that:
- Rise by Karen Campbell was great
- The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer was readable
- The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton was ….forgettable ….
Now let’s talk about classics.
Lady Anna was my first non-Palliser Trollope and I loved it, for the drama and the romance of it all. It might not be his greatest work, but it is a very fine entertainment.
I’ m looking forward to reading more Trollope for his bicentenary next month. Ayala’s Angel is the book I have in mind, and I’m planning to take it with me when we cross the border for a week’s holiday in Devon.
I’m afraid though the I was disappointed in this year’s Dickens – David Copperfield – there were moments when I loved it, but there were moments when I definitely didn’t. I’ll pull my thoughts together soon. I will say that it probably didn’t help that I read this not long after last years Dickens – Bleak House, which I loved – and that I wish I’d read Dickens chronologically, because I spotted one or two characters here that I suspect were re-worked for later books
I started with my new book of the month and I’ll finish with my old book of the month:
The Flowering Thorn by Margery Sharp is a gem, and it so deserves to be reissued. But even of it isn’t there will be another party next January, for Margery’s 111th birthday.
And that was March.
I’ve mentioned Trollope, I’m putting a list together for the Classics Club Spin, and I have a book in mind for Elizabeth Goudge Reading Week.
Beyond that I shall, as always, be trying to read the books that call.
Now, please tell me how your March was? And what do you have planned for April?
I think Kate Morton becomes better as she writes more…The House at Riverton, her first book was ok, but The Secret Keeper which was her last publication was very good….writing like any other craft I think improves when you do it more…that of course could also be applicable for Charles Dickens…I too was disappointed by David Copperfield, especially since I was riding a tidal wave of great Dickens works of Bleak House and Great Expectation, both works written after Copperfield!
We agree on a lot of things – Dickens included – but I think we might have to agree to disagree on Kate Morton. I was underwhelmed by The Secret Keeper and though I liked The Forgotten Garden enough to finish I couldn’t love it I think there are others who do that sort of book much better.
You know…I may have to try The Forgotten Garden, though I do agree with you that there are better works of modern fiction!
A great variety of reads this month, and yes, quite a long list. Hope your April reading is equally as good or even better – and perhaps some poetry? April is Poetry Month (I refuse to say National, as it’s just American), so I’m planning to read more poetry, although I might not get around to writing much.
I hadn’t spotted that, but I’ve just bought a novel in verse – The Island by Francis Brett Young – so maybe this should be its moment.
Lovely reads, Jane. I had a good reading month once I got past my block and looking back have read some lovely and powerful works – one (for SNB) will be in my books of the year. April? I’m currently enjoying Doctor Zhivago, and I need to catch up with The Forsyte Saga!
I’m pleased to hear it. It’s years since I read Doctor Zhivago and I’d love to read it again, and The Forsyte saga is still waiting until Trollope’s birthday is done.
I never considered reading Dickens’ work in order, probably because I have studied various books over the years and you don’t really get much choice when studying. It sounds like an interesting idea, but one I think will have to wait.
I doubt I ever will, but I just have the feeling that there are things that recur and he got better at the ore he wrote.
I had the opposite experience with Dickens – I loved David Copperfield but didn’t enjoy Bleak House as much. I’m looking forward to the Trollope and Elizabeth Goudge events in April too, but am still trying to decide whether to take part in the Classics Spin.
There were lots of things I liked about David Copperfield, but it didn’t see to come together as I’d hoped. I might be stretched if the spin lands on a long book, but I have a week’s holiday without internet so I should be okay.
I used to really like Dickens 15 years ago, but now he’s often too verbose for me. I hope that maybe in another 15 years, I like him again. 🙂 I’m looking forward to the Trollope month and the Classics Club Spin as well.
I’d always chose Trollope over Dickens, but there are things I like about Dickens. April should be a good month with Trollope’s bicentenary and the spin.
I loved Bleak House I have yet to read David Copperfield. I am currently reading The Pickwick Papers a different novel from Dickens. March was a good but not quite as good as previous months this year. Happy reading in April 🙂
I nearly chose ‘The Pickwick Papers’ as this year’s Dickens, so I’ll be very interested to know how you get on with it. I do hope that April will be a good reading month for you
I love David Copperfield, but then I love nearly all Dickens – it’s his writing style I love more than his plots. I admit though that I could cheerfully never read all the stuff about Dody again – she brings out my worst homicidal tendencies… 😉
I do like Dickens, and I did like a lot about David Copperfield. I just felt that the characters were going round in circles. And Dora drove me to distraction – I have no idea what Dickens was thinking there.
I’ve heard good things about The Girl in the Red Coat. Agree with you on The Forgotten Garden. Love how you have such a mix of books.
The Girl in the Red Coat is very good, but I read other books that were more me. I do try to read diversely, and I think I appreciate books more if I don’t read similar books too close together.
I don’t think I’ve read David Copperfield since I was in college — I was in France and was dying for English books so I read the longest things I could find. I loved it then, but should revisit to see how I feel now.
There were lots of things I liked in David Copperfield, but it didn’t seen together . But I think it was the wrong moment, and too close to my last Dickens, whereas you clearly picked the perfect moment.
Ohh, I’m so behind, it’s nearly May now! My April has been filled with illness and therefore the “easy” books off my TBR – Binchy, Heyer and the like. I’m going to have to do a great big catch-up post with a few sentences about each. Seems you had a varied March and I’ll be reading your April over the next few days …