Drawing a Line Under 2020 Reading – Part 1

These books deserve thorough reviews but I also really want to be done with 2020. So, for the sake of completeness, quick reviews of the books I read in November and December last year – Continue reading

The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy

Welcome to my first review of 2021 where I say absolutely nothing about the plot of the book.

Deborah Levy’s The Man Who Saw Everything is best read cold. There’s a blurb, but don’t worry about it. If stories about East Germany, or The Beatles, or how memory works are of interest, add this book to your list. If that’s not enough to convince you, know there’s an extraordinarily clever plot twist. Continue reading

Some more quick reviews

I’ve struggled to write reviews for much of this year. I blame working from home. After a day of work, I have no desire to stay sitting at my desk. And so, I’ll continue to keep a record of what I’ve read with short reviews (these are very, very short). Continue reading

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

I’m limping to the reading finish line this year, and in order to get there, I’m choosing books that demand very little from me. Ghosts by Dolly Alderton fitted the bill nicely.

‘Chick-lit’… ‘Women’s fiction’… I’m not even sure what these labels mean now. When I was in my twenties, it meant you could walk into a book store, pick up a novel with a hot pink cover and a picture of a stiletto shoe on the front, and be sure that you would have a fun bit of reading ahead. This genre has not been my choice in the last 15 odd years, but 2020 seems to have changed all sorts of things. Continue reading

Grief Works by Julia Samuel

In our household, death and dying are not ‘taboo’ subjects. This is largely because much of my volunteer and professional work is with people who are near the end of their life; experiencing grief; or are bereaved. I made a comment about something grief-related at dinner one night and my then 13-year-old rolled his eyes and said “Yes, Mum, we know it’s okay to talk about death.” Not sure he appreciated the fact that in some families, it’s not okay to talk about death.

Similarly, I know a family that go around the table at Christmas and answer the question ‘Bury or burn?’ – this sounds flippant but in terms of a family understanding of death, they’ll have a less painful time in bereavement than those who have never spoken of it.

Grief Works by grief psychotherapist Julia Samuel, is a collection of case studies about people who have experienced significant loss, and how they managed their pain. I stress the word ‘significant’ – some of the stories are traumatic and unbelievably tragic. Continue reading

Three very different memoirs

One Hundred Years of Dirt by Rick Morton, Wham! George & Me by Andrew Ridgeley, and The Fixed Stars by Molly Wizenberg are wildly different books. In fact, the only thing that unites them is that they are all shelved under ‘memoir’.

Morton reflects on his traumatic childhood and the definition of ‘poverty’ in Australia; Ridgely also recalls his childhood, however his included a stable home, music lessons, and his friendship with a school mate who would eventually be known as George Michael; and Wizenberg focuses on the disintegration of her marriage after she realises that her sexuality is ‘fluid’. Continue reading

Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth

I could make my review of Emma Jane Unsworth’s latest novel, Adults, all about gin, because the (23) gin-related scenes are glorious. For example –

‘OH MY GOD.’
‘What?’
‘GET ME A GIN, MOTHER.’
She gets me a gin. I am in the same position when she comes up: calcified. I take the gin without moving my face or indeed any part of myself.

and

‘Right,’ says my mother. ‘Do you want a gin?’
‘Yes please,’ says Nicolette. My mother runs off.
‘Don’t let her make you a gin,’ I say. ‘You’ll never get out of bed again. She does all-inclusive-package-holiday measures.’

But a review of gin scenes probably won’t inform your decision about whether to read this book. Actually, knowing my blog readers, it might… Continue reading