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.

 

The Madwoman Upstairs, Catherine Lowell

The Madwoman UpstairsThe Madwoman Upstairs is a contemporary adventure/mystery about a young woman who is beginning her studies in literature in Oxford. As the last descendant of Patrick Brontë, Samantha Whipple is hounded by the media about her father’s mysterious death (by fire) and the myth of the Brontë inheritance. When the Brontë books from her father’s library begin mysteriously showing up at her door (which she believed were destroyed in the fire that consumed her father), Samantha tries to uncover the truth behind who is leaving them for her, and what her father was trying to teach her between the lines.

I picked this up because one of my favorite novels of all time is Jane Eyre and although the only other Brontë I’ve read so far is Wuthering Heights by Miss Emily, I’ve always felt a little affectionate for their family (Anne, I’m coming for you!). I learned a lot about their family from this novel, but there are also some very definite spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read the big four – Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Agnes Grey, and The Tenent of Wildfell Hall. Many scenes in the novel are Samantha in one-on-one study sessions with her literature professor discussing the classics, and I was feeling really stupid even a quarter of the way through when this 20 year old was discussing work from…well, pretty much everyone. I read a lot of classics and I’m nowhere near as well read this character is. I would almost say it is unbelievable, but her father was a writer and lover of literature and she did descend from possibly the most famous family of authors who ever lived, so maybe it wasn’t so out of the realm of possibility for her.

After first finishing the novel I was a little bit disappointed that the ending didn’t turn out as shocking/twisty as I was expecting (even hoping for), but the more time that passes now after having finished it, I appreciate it more and more. The suspense is built up quite a bit throughout the novel to the point I was expecting a ‘Madwoman Upstairs’ type twist as found in Jane Eyre, but there is nothing like that. In the end, this is a book about acceptance and family, a coming of age story, and I quite enjoyed it :-)

e.