Florence’s Book Club: September

Before Rachel went off on maternity leave from her book club contributions to Florence Finds, she sent me in a book club post for June. Somehow I completely over looked it and recently rediscovered it, so thought it was about time I got around to posting! (In case you didn’t know, Rachel has a beautiful baby girl called Alice Emmeline.)

The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield
In my memory I’d studied these short stories at school, however reading/rereading them I’m not so sure. I like short stories, a perfect accompaniment for holidays. This time however they weren’t read on holiday but on my newly acquired Kindle in preparation for the baby. They were perfect for middle of the night insomnia – some are very very short, each is gentle with thoughtful and sometimes quietly unsettling emotions lying under the surface. They are also free to download on Kindle.

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller
I must admit it was the title that drew me to this book. Set in Kenya (or Keen-ya as her mother pronounces it), Rhodesia, as was and ending up in Zambia with the odd short journey to Britain sandwiched in between. It is an autobiographical/biographical memoir of her mother, AKA Nicola Fuller of Central Africa, as she refers to herself. I learnt a lot about Rhodesia and although her parents are no way in poverty they have to work hard to earn a living from the land, and sometimes it is a precarious living. There are touching mother daughter conversations, mad mother daughter conversations and sad mother daughter conversations.

…with my first best friend, Stephen Foster.”
Mum smiles at the memory. “Stephen and I used to take turns pushing each other on his tricycle. We wore matching romper suits. We had tea parties. We went everywhere together, hand in hand.”
“Stephen was one of Zoe’s sons?” I guess.
Mum frowns. “No, no, no,” she says. “Stephen wasn’t her son. Stephen was her chimpanzee.”

It’s an entertaining, informative and enjoyable easy read. One to add to FF African Book club post and thought provoking for new mums or mothers-to-be.

Restoration by Rose Tremain
Rose Tremain is one of my favourite female authors, I always think one gets a good quality female read from her. This book is different, it felt quite masculine and in some places it was a slow read. Set in England after the Civil War with Charles II now on the throne it follows surgeon Robert Merival on his journey of being King’s favourite, and relishing all the pomp, glory and debauchery that gave, to being married off to the King’s favourite mistress of the time and being sent out of London. He becomes Lord of a manor, again relishing in the pomp, glory and debauchery until he is no longer in the king’s favour. He joins a Quaker friend at a mental hospital where he helps care for the patients, reuses his medical knowledge and falls in lust with one of the patients. He then returns to London just after the plague, survives the Great Fire of London, returns to practising medicine and is restored to the King’s favour. If this intrigues you but you’re not sure about reading it then there is always the 1995 film with a young Robert Downey Jr as Merival.

Have you read any wonderful books recently readers? I’d love to hear your recommendations as I could do with something to help me turn my brain off before sleep these days!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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15 thoughts on “Florence’s Book Club: September

  1. The Garden Party and other stories is a great book. It reminds me of my English degree days. I was even geeky enough to visit the museum of her house in New Zealand whilst travelling shortly after graduating, where I think some of the stories are set or inspired by. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins is another great story from my studying days.

    I’m currently reading Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory, probably my favourite book of the series as I like the mythological element to the story.

    xx

  2. I tried to read Restoration after reading another of hers, but I have to say I hated it!

    Just finished Untold Story by Monica Ali, which I really liked and couldn’t put down.

    • It was hard work, if I hadn’t have been on maternity leave not sure I’d have finished it. I loved Brick Lane so shall explore this Monica Ali.

  3. I also love The Garden Party and Other Stories and have just finished Junot Diaz’s book of short stories (This is How you Lose Her) about love and family and being Dominican in NY. It does relate to his original novel (The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, which I loved) but is a bit more contemplative. My absolute favourite short story writer though is Lorrie Moore. She crams so much depth and complexity into her stories, but her prose is very clean.

    Other things I have read lately and loved:
    Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. Technically, its about growing up in Nigeria and the immigrant experience in America and the UK but its really about coming of age in a globalised world, and what it means to be marginal and what it means to be mainstream. Plus, its funny and beautifully written.
    Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I hadn’t read it for about 10 years, and I loved it again. It’s such a fast moving story and the charaterisation and emotional consistency is remarkable.

    I am also in the middle of reading Little Women, Good Wives, Little Men and Jo’s Boys again. Free on iBooks and perfect reading for just before bed when you need to wind your brain down (for which I also love Anne of Green Gables). Good Wives is also very wise on marriage, and marriage with young children.

    • Peabody, I re-read the Little Women and Good Wives last year and loved it. A re-read of Gone with the Wind is definitely on the list too. Although maybe I should go back to Little Men and read it in the loft room of the new house or ‘garrett’ for authenticity with apples!

    • Love the sound of the Diaz short stories & the Adichie novel. I’m currently reading Gone with the wind (thank you Rebecca!) & am really enjoying it & want to know more about the American civil war.
      Anne of Green Gables is waiting for me on my kindle after finishing my re read of Emma.

  4. At the moment I’m reading ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn. Really enjoying it, but I seem to read about 4 pages per night and then fall asleep (no reflection on the book!).

    I recently read Maggie O’Farrell’s latest book, ‘Instructions for a Heatwave’, which is fab (as, I find, are all of her books).

    Another I liked is ‘The Snow Child’ by Eowyn Ivey, but maybe best read in a couple of months’ time, as it’s set in Alaska mid-winter.

    So many books and too little time!

  5. That’s such a shame about Restoration as I normally love Rose Tremain’s books. I think I’ll give that one a miss!

    I’m reading The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman at the moment and so far I’m really enjoying it. After a recommendation here (I think it was here anyway?) for The Language of Flowers I finally read it – have to admit the name and blurb put me off a little – and adored it, so thank you! Before that it was The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards, which I loved too. I seem to be on a winning streak with books at the moment!

  6. I just read a series which I adored. It’s not really cerebral but it’s quirky and funny and stuffed full of interesting little titbits of facts about London. The first one is Rivers of London. It’s described on the cover as “What would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the fuzz” which I love but it’s not quite it. It’s very hard to categorise but it’s part crime drama, part love story to London with a dash of magic, a soupcon of quirkiness and a strong dose of humour. It’s a long time since I read anything I felt quite so enthusiastic about.

    • Amanda this sounds like EXACTLY my kind of thing, might download the first one ready for my holiday tomorrow!! I’ve spent this summer reading the 3 Jane Austen’s I’ve never read (shocking admission for someone who calls herself a lover of Austen!), loved Mansfield Park, less keen on Northanger Abbey, loving Persuasion which I’ve nearly finished.

      Also want to mention Mark Haddon (author of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime’), I’ve loved his last 2 books and just started the newest one ‘The Red House’ which is also pretty enthralling so far!

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