What I Read This Summer/Fall: September Edition

Continuing my record of books I read while on blogging break. If you want to chat about any of these, please comment!

Brixton Beach by Roma Tearne: This book starts with the July 7 bombing in London and then goes back to Sri Lanka, where a little girl named Alice is growing up. She and her parents eventually flee the violence in Sri Lanka, but they find different kinds of struggles in London. This book didn’t make much of an impression on me, although it was interesting enough reading when I was in the midst of it. I remember being annoyed by the way the character of Simon (a white doctor) and the bombing were brought back into the novel at the end, but I have no recollection of why! (This is why blogging is so helpful.)

The Trespasser by Tana French: I’ve now finished the Dublin Murder Squad books, and they’re all so great. This is not at the top of my list, but I did really like it. In the character of Antoinette, French shows how being persecuted can really mess with your mind, making it impossible to trust anyone.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King: I read this sequel to The Shining after seeing the trailer for the movie. King is such a reliable storyteller, and I liked this a lot, although it is very different from The Shining. The grown-up Dan is a fantastic character, as is Abra, the girl with the Shine that he takes under his wing.

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken: So quirky. So unbearably quirky. I don’t know why I finished this. It had some funny scenes, and I guess whenever I was ready to quit, another good scene would pop up.

Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge: The sequel to The Bird in the Treewhich I read years ago. These are such gentle, pleasant books about decent people striving to be decent. I couldn’t even stay too irritated at the way matriarch Lucilla manipulates the situation because it all turns out so well (but, seriously, don’t be like that). However, I was a little annoyed at time with how Goudge equated being in a forest (and loving being in a forest) with being close to God. I get that many people feel that way about forest, but I find them oppressive. I do, however, feel a lot of what she describes at the sea or the riverside. I think where that feeling comes about is very much a personal thing, but the way Goudge writes about it, it feels absolute, and I simply could not relate.

The Brontes by Juliet Barker: This is a magnificent biography that takes the whole family seriously. I learned so much. Barker does especially well at picking apart some of the myths related to the Brontes, showing how much is speculative and how much is outright unlikely. And she’s up-front about her own speculations, explaining why she comes to particular conclusions. The section about Anne and Charlotte’s simultaneous, but secret spiritual struggles was especially compelling. And the idea that Emily was so close to finishing a second book! My only complaint is that some of the early chapters about Branwell and Charlotte’s juvenalia were way too detailed. The Angria characters are written about as if they were actual people, and I didn’t care enough to even try to keep them straight. The Angria work is important to showing their development as writers and how they bounced off each other, but I did not need that level of detail. (And it made me glad there was less of Anne and Emily’s Gondal juvenalia to delve into in such detail.)

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9 Responses to What I Read This Summer/Fall: September Edition

  1. Swistle says:

    I love the description “So unbearably quirky.”

  2. Amy says:

    I couldn’t finish the McCracken, which pained me, since I absolutely loved Thunderstruck. Also, if you’re still in a Bronte mood, their collected letters are wonderful.

    • Teresa says:

      I shouldn’t have finished it. I kept meaning to give up and never did.
      I’ll have to look into the collected letters. I love letter collections even more than I do good biographies!

      • Amy says:

        I love letters too, and the Brontes were stellar correspondents. So glad Charlotte’s friends didn’t heed her wishes to have her letters burned after her death.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Just have to thank you for including Elisabeth Goudge. I loved Pilgrim Inn and her books. She writes of the numinous entry in our world in such a lovely way. So very special.

    • Teresa says:

      Her writing is so lovely and gentle. I’ve only read a small handful of her books, but I’ll almost certainly read more.

      • Jenny says:

        Elizabeth Goudge is one of my all-time favorite authors, and these are good books for hard times! And I have a soft spot for Lucilla. She is manipulative, yes, but Goudge never pretends she’s perfect. I like the way she writes about imperfect people trying to do good and sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding.

      • Teresa says:

        The way all the characters are consistently trying their best is definitely part of the appeal.

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