My February Reading - mainly historical novels

Author: Anne

Date Published: Feb 28th 2018, 4:17pm

We are at the end of February and the month finishes for me with an unexpected day off work due to the snow. This gives me time to review my books read in the month of which there are 33 (although I might just get to the end of another one later this evening). This excellent total for the month has been helped along by the half-term holiday which I took off work but stayed at home for and which allowed me a lot more reading time than usual.

Looking at the books I have read I am amused at how many have historical settings. Given that I used to avoid historical novels I have obviously been well and truly converted. Here are a few this month which I enjoyed – they are by no means all new publications so you should be able to get cheap copies if you find any attractive :

• “The Essex Serpent” by Sarah Perry. This was very popular last year and is set in the Victorian era. I didn’t find it as engrossing as I had expected from all the attention it got on publication but the descriptions of the Essex landscape were excellent.

• “Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. This is set in Nigeria at the time of the Biafran uprising in the 1960s.

• “Another World” by Pat Barker. This book is set in the present but refers a lot to the past where there are hidden secrets. It particularly concentrates on the First World War.

• “Morality Play” by Barry Unsworth. This excellent book is set in Medieval England and centres on a group of travelling players. It reminded me a lot of “A Company of Liars” by Karen Maitland but was a lot shorter.

• “Crocodile on the Sandbank” by Elizabeth Peters. This is a fun, cosy mystery set in Victorian Egypt. I love this series.

• “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” by Agatha Christie. This is not technically an historical novel as it was written in the 1920s but it reads that way now (including some references which would not now find acceptable because of their racist content). It is the first Poirot novel and the writing is a lot more subtle than the author is often given credit for.

A special mention needs to be given to “Never Let me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro which is a compelling novel set in an alternative England. It becomes more chilling as you read it so I am not going to give the premise away here. Elegantly written.

My title quirk of the month is two novels with the word “question” in the title. Both are also historical but have little else in common :

“A Question of Upbringing” by Anthony Powell is the first of his “Dance to the Music of Time” books and is set in 1920’s England telling of the upbringing of a privileged young man. Further books will follow his life story.

“The Night in Question” by Laurie Graham is set in Victorian London at the time of Jack the Ripper and has one of the most engaging main characters I have encountered in a while. I really enjoyed this book.