Good Afternoon readers! It’s time to share your reads this months, recommendations (do drop us a comment if you’ve read something brilliant recently) and opinions on this months choices by Rachel. As ever she has curated a wide selection and I’ve already spotted two from her list that I’ll be reading this month. Can you guess?
Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
This book is mad. Its Waugh’s second novel written 15 years before Brideshead. It is nothing like Brideshead Revisited, but still as wonderful – just different wonderful. Whilst reading it I found myself really enjoying the way Waugh writes, his way with words. A story about a fictional group of ‘Bright Young Things’, they truly are characters in 1920’s London and how their lives intertwine. Yes they are wealthy, or broke but with wealthy friends or lovers, the parties sound great fun but not Gatsby-esque glorious. Where else do you get drunk majors, mad fathers, lost money, journalists of gossip columns making people up. Oh and if you’re into vintage cars there is a bonkers car race. This book may not be your cup of tea but I don’t think you’ll be bored reading it.
Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
My sister lent me this book. The author was sent to the depths of rural China as a child and now lives in France. His story is about the friendship of two boys who have been sent to Phoenix Mountain to be ‘re-educated’ there they meet the little seamstress. It’s a love story. A story of hidden love. Of teenage hidden love, climbing over steep mountain ridges to meet your love. It’s also a story of falling in love with books and the worlds they can take you to.
‘Did Four-Eyes stop to think about which book he would lend us? Or was it a random choice? Perhaps he picked it simply because of all the treasures in his precious suitcase, it was the thinnest boo, and the most decrepit. Did he have ulterior motives which we could not fathom? Whatever his reasons his choice was to have a profound effect on our lives.’
The Report : A Novel by Jessica Francis Kane
Based on the true event of the accident, where 173 people died, at Bethnal Green Tube Station during the war and the writing of the report. A tragic evening in March 1943, where the most harrowing fact is that night no bombs fell over London and Bethnal Green tube station in the impoverished East End was the only tube with a staircase that size with no middle banister. A report was written and the style of the report was ground breaking, the report was also buried for fear of the effect on wartime spirits, especially in the local area. The fiction part to it is the characters involved – their personalities and some of their actions. It is a book that is technically an ‘easy read’ the way the words, sentences and paragraphs flow, but emotionally as a fellow human being imagining oneself there in the midst, an onlooker or living at that time it’s hard and emotional. As someone who works near to Bethnal Green it made me want to find out more and surely that’s a good thing about reading.
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico
After all the reports on the SS13 fashion shows of London, Milan and Paris it felt fitting to include this book this month. First published in 1958 and republished in 2010 by Bloomsbury, as part of a small collection. Mrs Harris Goes to Paris is about a London char lady who dreams of couture, of Dior couture. She saves and saves and makes her way to Paris. If you want to be wrapped up in a world of descriptions and daydreams of dresses and the wonder of humanity then do read this. Ps In this edition Mrs Harris Goes to New York is also included, it’s good but nowhere near as precious and delightful as Mrs Harris goes to Paris.