Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Notes from March

Previously known as What I read in... but it wouldn't be my blog if things were consistent now would it?

March has seemed like such a long month compared with January and February!  Not in a bad way, but when I think about some of the things I did at the beginning of the month they seem like at least half a year ago.  Here are March's highlights:

  • Brunch with Alice at Fettle Cafe
  • A visit from Noel and a great night in watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which I've never seen before and which made me snort with laughter in quite a few places
  • Two trips to the theatre!  The first to see War Horse which was my Christmas present from Paul.  It was absolutely amazing, so atmospheric and the puppets blew me away, I couldn't believe how lifelike the horses were.  They were never completely still, all the time they were breathing, flicking their tails, pawing the ground.  Just incredible.  Then a week later Paul and I went to see Tim Vine - a totally different experience, he is absolutely bonkers.

  • Snow, snow and more snow.  I used to say that I hated snow but let's be honest, last time we had proper snowfall I was more likely to be going out wearing unsuitable footwear and not enough layers.  This time we had a real flurry and I loved walking to work in it, the excuse to dig out my floral wellies, enjoying the hushed feel of the morning.
  • Fancy hot chocolate with my sister at Hotel Chocolat
  • An afternoon in York with my best friends, having lunch and shopping
  • Lunch with my dad and the tiny glass elephant he gave me... A treasure 💓
  • Shopping for and collecting my first wig and getting a little bit of myself back - I wrote more about my experience here

And here's what I read in March...

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock tells the story of Jonah, a widowed merchant in the 1700s who unexpectedly acquires a mermaid.  His new possession makes him rich and famous and steers him from a humble existence to high society and a world of opulence and debauchery that he's never experienced before.  At a party he meets Angelica Neal, an accomplished courtesan, and from then their lives are linked.

It took me a good long while to get through this one which is usually a sign I'm not enjoying a book as much as I thought, but I really liked it.  I was pulled in straight away by the premise and the language in this book is so mesmerising, both the way the characters speak and the descriptions of the setting.  It's really beautifully written and an impressive debut.  I loved the historical setting too.  The mermaid is less a central character than I expected from the blurb and more of a background influence, but it worked really well especially because Jonah and Angelica are already accompanied by a cast of vivid characters; his niece Sukie, the maid Bridget, Angelica's former madam Mrs Chappell, and Polly, a black prostitute working for her now.  In fact, the novel is really driven by its women characters.  Not quite 5 stars because some of their stories were left unfinished (especially Polly) and it almost seemed a shame to include them and not tie everything up - but then it's already 500 pages long!

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Everything I Know About Love

This was definitely a case of  'instagram made me do it' but I don't regret it one bit.  Dolly Alderton has written such a wonderful thing with this ode to friendship, family, teenage romance and relationships, I read it cover to cover in the space of one evening.

There's a chapter at the beginning about talking to boys on MSN that made me giggle so much, I knew exactly where she was coming from and I want to recommend it to all my friends just for that part to be honest because we were all the same.  But there was something to relate to all the way through as Dolly takes us through her life (apart from the bits about heavy drinking and drug use at university - I don't begrudge anyone their experimental phase but she lost me a bit there) and it was both funny and very moving.  You should read it.

The Children of Men by P.D. James

The Children of Men

Holy snooze-fest Batman.  Seriously, this one was way oversold to me.  To be fair the person who I heard about this from was telling me about the film but I thought I should read the book first, only now I'm wondering whether this is one of those rare cases where the film is actually better.  I'm not sure whether P.D. James had completely made her mind up what angle she wanted to take with this novel: it started off as an interesting commentary on a world without children and ended up as a story about the abuse of power.  For me personally I would have been more interested in the societal stuff, plus I never felt the tension I think was intended.  One of the poorer dystopias I've read, which is a shame as the general concept is so interesting.

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Let Me Lie

Last month I wrote a five stars reads prediction post (click here to read it) in which I predicted that I would give Let Me Lie five stars.  I was right!  This was soooo good.  I will forever read anything Clare Mackintosh writes, she is just amazing.  That's all I'm going to say on this one because as with any thriller I think it's best to go in blind, but definitely pick this up if you're looking for a good crime novel.

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