My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

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Dear Book-Blogging-Corner-of-the-Interwebs,

I respect and trust your opinion on almost #ALLTHEBOOKS* but I feel like you’ve let me down on the Ferrante-front. You know what I’m talking about. You loved it. You promised a sinuous, immersive tale of life in Naples, of violence and fierce love, of female friendship and deep loyalty. You didn’t tell me it would be such a wretched slog. But I pushed through, trusting you. Continue reading

Double Fault by Lionel Shriver

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Lionel Shriver consistently writes the most interesting, complex female characters. They’re rarely ‘nice’, accommodating or admirable women. It’s certainly evident in Double Fault, where we meet Wilhemena (Willy) Novinsky, an ambitious, self-obsessed tennis player, on the brink of stardom.

Willy is incredibly determined and her focus on tennis does not waver, even when she meets Eric Oberdorf, a guy she beats convincingly in a casual tennis match. She soon discovers that Eric didn’t pick up a racquet until the age of 18 but with the financial support and blessing of his family (something Willy does not have), puts on hold using his mathematics degree from Princeton to give the tennis circuit a whirl. Unlike Willy, Eric does not ‘live and breathe’ tennis, an attitude which both horrifies and attracts Willy, who defines herself by her ranking.

“…their tournaments had been fortuitously staggered, and in the rash prodigality of headlong romance they had flown to watch each other play. Sweet but irresponsible, their mutual admiration society would not last.” Continue reading

Stella Prize 2016 – my predictions

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Why even write this post given that I’ve been carrying on about Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things since day dot? I think it will win the 2016 Stella Prize tonight (actually, in about two hours).

The Natural Way of Things has it all – it’s relevant; it’s current; it makes you think very hard about things that are hard to think about; the sense of place is exquisite; and Wood writes with such sparing beauty that some sentences left me breathless. But the real strength is in its lasting impression – there are many elements of this book that will stay with me: rabbits, fungi, hair removal, dolls and those bloody gift bags…. The gift bags were Wood’s masterstroke. Continue reading

Reading the Stella Prize Shortlist – Small Acts of Disappearance by Fiona Wright

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I finished Fiona Wright’s collection of essays, Small Acts of Disappearance, a week ago. I enjoyed it while I was reading it. Actually, ‘enjoyed’ is not the right word when you’re reading about someone’s experience with anorexia… Rather, I was interested and engaged. But now, a few days out, the guts of Wright’s message evades me. What parts of her story have lingered? Continue reading

Sample Saturday – a girl, a painting, and a murder

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Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye.

This week, the three samples I’ve selected are the three books on the Baileys Prize 2016 shortlist that I haven’t read (yet). Continue reading