My April Reading - lots of novels (some of them very long)

Author: Anne

Date Published: May 1st 2018, 11:36pm

April was a month of showers, sudden sun, snow and many books – 30 in total for the month.

It also included my 100th book read of the year to date. This was “A Stranger in the House” by Shari Lapena. It is a psychological mystery with lots of turns and twists. The plot is well done and I certainly didn’t work out everything that was happening but like “Gone Girl” I thought that the author sacrificed characterisation for cleverness so I didn’t engage as much as I could have. I borrowed this book from my sister in law and it was fine but if I ever get to review it I shall only award it three stars. If I had realised that it was going to be my one hundredth I might have chosen something more meaty or worthy.

The theme for April seems to have been literary fiction. By that I mean novels which don’t fit easily into a genre. Here are some excellent examples I read this month and recommend to others :

• “The Stone Diaries” by Carol Shields – anyone who has read many of my blogs knows that I am a sucker for novels in diary or letter form. In fact, not much of this book takes that format but the story of the little motherless girl who grows up in Canada and America is interesting and engaging

• “Oranges are not the Only Fruit” by Jeanette Winterson – this is a semi-autobiographical novel about a young girl in a Northern town who is adopted and brought up by a mother immersed in a local strict, evangelical church. Problems arise because young Jeanette is spirited but even more because she is lesbian. This always strikes me as a book which was written to settle old scores and I think it suffers from the autobiographical content. Worth a read though especially as it is becoming a modern classic

• “The Quiet American” by Graham Greene – a story set in Indo China amongst journalist gathered to report the war (set in the 1950s). A short but punchy book about love and loss and commitment.

• “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Mohsin Hamid – a book about a man from Pakistan who studies and works in America in and around the time of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre. Even shorter and even punchier than Graham Green but in the same tradition

• “The Years” by Virginia Woolf – a story of a family told in episodes both before and after WW1. It’s not a traditional saga and I didn’t exactly enjoy it because I would have been more satisfied with a more traditional narrative but it was interesting.

• “Hard Times” by Charles Dickens – I am not usually a Dickens fan but I listened to this on audio book and I was hooked. A great tale of a revolt against utilitarianism and an appeal for sentiment.

I have to say that I read a few genre fiction novels this month that I think were easily the equal of those listed above even if they fitted into the pattern that the reader expected from the type of novel they were. Try these for an excellent read and don’t be put off by the genre label :

• “The Fireman” by Joe Hill – a dystopian novel about a world in which people become infected by a spore which causes them to grow a scale and then to self-combust. Truly creepy in places it has a great heroine ad some very imaginative ideas.

• “Death’s Jest-Book” by Reginald Hill – a crime novel which emphasises character above plot and which still managed to have a very clever storyline. One of the Dalziel and Pascoe novels and best read after its immediate predecessors in the series.

• “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss – a fantasy novel following the events in the life of a young man who loses his family and finds a magical talent. Very much for adult readers and the first in a trilogy.

• “The Dry” by Jane Harper – an excellent crime novel set in Australia and with plenty of atmosphere. A very clever plot and about 400 pages fewer than any of the three listed above !

It was a good month again for long books (“The Fireman”, “The Name of the Wind” and “Death’s Jest-Book” were each over 600 pages as was “Prodigal Summer” by Barbara Kingsolver and “Hitler” a biography by Ian Kershaw.

My title theme for the month is weather as I read “The Name of the WIND”, “The DRY”, “Prodigal SUMMER”, “Brighter than the SUN” by Julia Quinn (Regency romance), and “Rebecca of SUNNYbrook farm” by Kate Douglas Wiggan (children’s novel which suffers in comparison with “Anne of Green Gables” despite or because of their similarities).