Summer Reading Progress 2017

Total Books Read (since July 1st):: 6
10 Books of Summer Challenge:: 6/10 (see my book list here)
Classics Club Challenge:: 5/50     (see my book list here)

Since I didn’t finish too many books in July, I wanted to wait a little while longer to post an update. Now I’ve finished 6 novels since my last update in June, and I think that’s a good number.

The first book I finished in July was My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier. This novel has become very popular in the last year or so because a movie adaptation was recently released which I have not seen. On the whole I am still not really sure what to think of it. It’s written in a way that kind of leaves certain plot points up for interpretation (which I’ve found I do not like very much!!). I read it as part of a book group read, and everyone else in the group seemed to interpret the events in a different way than I did (you can read more about it in my review here if you’re interested). I did enjoy it as I read because the writing is good, but after reading Rebecca I was just expecting a little bit more.

After that, I needed a little bit of a pallet cleanser, so I picked up a quick book called Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood, my review of which is here. I have been a lover of Ernest Hemingway since I first read A Farewell to Arms as a 17 year old, and I love reading anything by or about him. Mrs. Hemingway outlines the overlaps, beginnings, and endings of Hem’s four marriages. Each are given an equal piece of the story, and I learned a lot about some of his later marriages that I had not been familiar with. It is fiction though, not a history book ;-)

After that I dug back into my 10 Books of Summer Challenge and read The Fireman by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son, if you didn’t know). I don’t have a review of this up as of the time I am posting this (I am quite behind on writing them to be honest). I started this apocalyptic novel last summer after it had first come out and it fizzled out (by no fault of the story or writing), so I wanted to start it over and finish it this time. I really enjoyed it, and it had a lot of similarities to one of his dad’s most famous books, The Stand, especially in the beginning. It’s really long and it took me awhile to finish, but I felt satisfied at the end. There is nothing worse than investing a lot of time into a book that ends up being disappointing…

The next book I read was another short/palette cleanser type of novel called The Madwoman Upstairs. It’s a contemporary mystery/adventure story about the last Brontë descendant and a rumored secret Brontë inheritance. It was quick and entertaining, just as I was hoping for….because at the same time I was listening to…

Middlemarch, by George Eliot. Oh, my, goodness. I loved this novel, and I am working on a review. It was such a lovely story that surrounds several characters throughout the town of Middlemarch, many of which are youngsters who are looking for love and marriage. There are sooo many wholesome themes in this novel that I’m afraid I won’t do them justice even in my discussion of it in a dedicated post (that is bound to be about a million words), but what you should know about it is – you should read it! Yes, it’s super long, but it is worth it a thousand times (in my opinion). This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year!

And finally, just this week I finished reading Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. This was such a joy to read as well, in quite a different way. It was written at the turn of the 20th century and follows a little orphan girl who is adopted by some older folks who take her in and raise her right. She is a spirited young girl who lives so much within her imagination and touches the lives of everyone around her. It’s a beautiful coming of age story that most people probably read when they were much younger than 28 (ha), but as an adult I still enjoyed it very much and I plan to continue the series.

Right now I am reading a book called The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. The first of which I came across awhile ago and had to buy (I’m about halfway through at the moment and not entirely sure what to think of it), the second of which I just finished reading in January before my son was born and am reading again. I’m only a few chapters into it as a reread and already SO much is coming back to me about this incredible book. It is so complex and lovely…and I could probably read it again next year and enjoy it just as much again.

I am curious, all of you blog readers, which have been your favorite books this year? Leave a comment and let me know!

e.

 

Mrs. Hemingway, Naomi Wood

Mrs. HemingwayI love Ernest Hemingway. That’s probably something you should know about me. I love his writing so much that I’ve been savoring it, because I never want to run out of new things to read. First I read A Farewell To Arms – to this day one of my favorite novels of all time. Then The Sun Also Rises. Loved it. I’ve reread these two novels many times. Then I read The Old Man and the Sea. I didn’t like it as much as the other two, but still effective. And that’s it. That’s all I’ve allowed myself to read for ten years. It’s ridiculous. And it stops…well, soon. But first, I picked up this book: a fictional account of the beginnings and endings of all four of Mr. Hemingway’s marriages.

It is written in four parts (around 80 pages each), one for each wife: Hadley (my favorite), Pauline (nickname:Fife, as in Pfeiffer), Martha, and Mary. Before reading this book, I was only familiar with details from his marriage to Hadley and the transition into Pauline, so I did learn quite a bit from this book. Each section jumps back and forth from the beginning of each relationship to the end, and many times they overlap one another (Hemingway was never known for his fidelity 😕). It had to be tough to decide what vignettes to include for each wife that showed why they married and also why they parted, but I feel that the author did a great job capturing the right moments.

Hadley was his first love, who he met when he was 21. They had a son together and lived for most of their marriage in Paris. It was there Hadley and Ernest became acquainted with Pauline Pfeiffer and her sister. Pauline (who everyone called Fife apparently), became fast friends with the pair, and slowly fell in love with Ernest. The affair went on awhile with Ernest still married to Hadley, but finally they divorced and he married Pauline. They lived happily together for many years, mostly in the Florida keys, and had two sons. Ernest went back to working as a war correspondent during this period. He met his next wife, Martha Gellhorn, near his home in Florida, but convinced her to become a war correspondent as well (she was a writer herself). In Spain they began their love affair, and Pauline was pissed when she found out. She is the only of his wives to really hold spite for him, or so they say. He married Martha, and basically did the same thing to her, meeting Mary Welsh while working as a correspondent in London (Mary was also married at the time), and it was Mary who was with him in the end of his life.

While this book is highly fictionalized (no one knows exactly what was said and exactly what happened in all of the details), it is also drawn from historical accounts, letters, and telegrams, so everything in the book is at least in the gist of what actually occurred. Ernest Hemingway had a big life, there are no doubts about that, and I loved seeing little snipits of it through the lens of the women in his life. 

Overall I really enjoyed the book, it was hard to put down at times (I say that because I had to put it down, mommy’s need their sleep!). I love reading about Hemingway’s life. He lived in a different time, that’s for sure, and it makes me wonder how he would have liked the modern world. He wouldn’t have, probably. I have another fictionalized book about him called Hemingway’s Boat. I may be reading that soon, as well as Z. the novel about Zelda Fitzgerald (who was only in one scene of this book, but was alluded to a few other times). Why do the books I read always add so many other books to my to-read pile?! I’m trying to shrink it, but it keeps growing the more I read!! #readerproblems 😅

E.