Late again! But I have been reading…
March’s book, Ian McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangers, was a short, dark and disturbing tale of a couple on holiday in a place I took to be Venice (it’s not named) who are befriended by another couple with deadly consequences. Plot wise, the book didn’t really stand up for me. Seriously, no-one on their right mind would continue to seek out contact with a relative stranger who you suspect has been secretly following and photographing you and your other half! The book does however have some wonderfully descriptive passages of the city, its confusing chaos of streets, bridges and lagoons and its cloying, malaise inducing heat which I know only too well.
I’ve already clocked up two books for April. The first (not pictured) was Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse (in translation, obviously). I happened across it at the bookstall at the Tobacco Factory Market on Mother’s Day and F kindly bought it for me. My main thought was that it was thin and thereby readable within a month. As the title suggests, it’s a rather sad tale of a seventeen year old girl who plots to break up her father’s engagement to an old family friend with tragic consequences. Sagan wrote the novel in 1954, at the age of 18. It’s easy to see how it caused quite a stir in post-war French society – particularly the idea that girls of seventeen year old girls were having sex, as the protagonist does. And while I certainly couldn’t have written this as a teenager I think the youth of the author shows. I would probably recommend this book to my 16 year-old self but at the ripe old age of thirty-four I found it incredibly hard to find any connection with the life and teenage angst of the protagonist.
My second book, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, was another freebie from the neighbour’s wall a few months back. Once started, and past the first few chapters (which is always the way with me and books) I couldn’t put it down. Essentially, it’s the story of one man’s life set across several decades before, during and after the First World War. The WWI sections were for me the most moving and provocative. I’ve found my mind wandering and contemplating the unimaginable horrors of the trenches for days after finishing the book. Well recommended if you fancy a bit of topical reading this year.
I’ve just started G. K. Chesterton’s The Man who was Thursday. Not a book I would normally have gone for but it was the only English-language book I had to hand once I finished Birdsong (still in Germany until Monday). Not sure about it yet. I’ll let you know next month.