I am so behind on my book posts that I have decided to catch up with November and December and then start again in January and keep up to date from then. I haven't stopped reading, I just seem to have run out of time to write about reading!
I only read three books in November but two of them were great big thick ones!
I don't buy hardbacks very often but I could not resist this as I have been hoping for years that Philip Pullman would revisit the Northern Lights trilogy. If by some chance you have not read them already I really recommend those books. They are super, well written and really transport you into their world.
This book is kind of a prequel though Pullman isn't calling it that and it could be read as a stand alone book. The main character in Northern Lights, Lyra, is a baby in this book. The main character in this book is Malcolm, a publican's son who lives in the pub on the banks of the Thames. He has a beloved canoe called The Belle Sauvage and he canoes on the Thames, helps in the pub and does odd jobs in the nunnery across the river. But then it rains and rains and Malcolm meets friends and enemies and learns about politics and religion and science. He finds himself swept into a dangerous adventure.
I was torn between reading this all at once and savouring it slowly which is the option I took as I didn't want it to finish. I loved it. It was thrilling and exhilarating and nerve wracking and gripping. I was worried I would be disappointed in it because I love Northern Lights so much but I wasn't at all. I am looking forward to volume two!
This was first published in 1933; it is Orwell's account of living in poverty in Paris and London in the late twenties. The book begins in Paris and gives a detailed account of the struggle to pay for somewhere to sleep and something to eat and the difficulties of finding a job. When he is successfully employed as a kitchen porter he describes the sheer slog of the job and the lack of opportunities available whilst living that life. When he moves to London he often tramps the street from doss house to doss house looking for work and food.
Orwell describes the friends he made and the characters he met during that time and his descriptions are vivid and bring the people to life. It is interesting to find that most of the time people pull together to help each other out, sharing what little food or money they have. I found it really interesting and readable and it left me with a greater appreciation of the hardships of the time.
This is a hefty book at over 500 pages and frankly it would have benefited from some more editing. I wanted to like it and from the blurb on the back I really thought that I would but it just didn't do it for me.
It is set in rural France under German occupation during the second world war. In the small community everyone knows everyone and all their business and the reader is introduced to most of the townspeople which can get a little confusing. The main character, Jacques, a farmer, manages to evade conscription to German factories and sees out the war in his village. As a response to various trials and losses he decides to move his house, stone by stone, from one side of the village to the other. This process continues day after day whilst life in the village with its various dramas, secrets and intrigues pass him by. As the war comes to an end we see what has happened to the community.
I found it hard to like any of the characters and that always stops me from enjoying a book as much as I might. Some of them were quite frustrating and I just wanted them to get on with it. There is also some fairly terrible writing about sex which grated.
All in all, could have been good but it just wasn't.
This is my last post of 2017 so Happy New Year. Here is to plenty of great reads in 2018. Is there anything that you are looking forward to reading?