I was reminded of Jean Rhys when I started thinking about literary bad girls for one of our salons at Port Eliot and I found a few of her books during a shelf-rummage and I thought how much I’d missed her. I snapped up Voyage in the Dark (missing from my collection) in this attractive coloured-in black and white edition and am going to attempt to read and finish it this week. She’s not very summery, but I need her in my life.
The Colour of Milk, the third novel by Nell Leyshon came out in May and got lots of excellent reviews. The publisher compared it to Thomas Hardy’s Tess, and it’s there in terms of timing and setting, but the freeflowing voice is raw and untrammelled by capital letters or much grammar. As you’d imagine from that Tess comparison, it’s dark and tragic and its sad, strange voice will stay with you after you’ve finished. Plus it’s very short – perfect.
I’ve been making efforts to read more ‘lives of women’ and The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the rebellious Rothschild by Hannah Rothschild is a riveting account of her great-aunt’s madly unconventional life as a jazz patroness, errant mother and wildchild. Yes it’s beautifully produced (and now my copy is signed too – thank you Hannah who hung out with us at Port Eliot) and therefore not at all appropriate for the beach – or a jazz speakeasy – but then I’m not going to one.
CONFESSION! I still haven’t read Du Maurier’s Rebecca(first published in er, 1938), but happily, I did manage to start it during a 50 hour trip to Spain for Sonar in June. Then I left it in a cafe. Then I got it back (I won’t explain why or how) but by then I’d already started on one or two other books. So it can definitely wait…
Harlem is Nowhere by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts was a bookclub pick for a meeting that never happened. I’d recommend to anyone holidaying in NYC… The Forrests by Emily Perkins is another new novel which I read about and liked the sound of but is still waiting to be opened…
The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman is another of our bookclub picks (and a Booker longlistee) but unfortunately I can’t reveal my thoughts on it before the meeting which is later this week. Miraculously it’s over 300 pages and I’ve managed to finish it which is obviously a good sign (why do any books need to be over 250 pages? Explain?). Also, I notoriously do not read fiction by men. But TTA has made me think I should be perhaps be less prejudiced about man-words… The Women Reader by Belinda Jack came out in May and I’m hoping that it’s going to be a kind of non-fiction accompaniment to Katie Ward’s wonderful novel Girl Reading (a set of linked-stories inspired by portraits of women reading). It might be at the bottom of the pile but it doesn’t mean that I want to read it least! I just need a holiday to go on first… and finally, probably the best newish novel I’ve read this year was an ebook edition (not pictured here): State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. It’s got intrigue, adventure, science and a crazy genius, renegade lady doctor living in the Amazonian rainforest. I actually finished that one, so trust me on it.
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