It’s fun to look back at the books I’ve read (and listened to) during 2021. I think it’s a diverse list but two major themes are history and nature. No surprises there! I’m glad I read more poetry and I hope to keep it up in 2022. Jamaica Kincaid’s At the Bottom of the River … Continue reading Reading Inspiration: My 2021 Reading List
Martinique. 1765. Emile and Lucien are given an impossible task. Their French master, Father Cleopas, needs more slaves to manage and work the new sugar plantations and rum distillery. His plan is anything but simple: the two brothers have to return discreetly to Grenada, the island they were born on but that's now under British rule. There they have to convince the slaves, who are now considered British property, to return with them in secret to Martinique to work for their former French masters. The task seems far-fetched and exceptionally dangerous to the older Emile. But Lucien, who is just entering his teen years, looks forward to reconnecting with his brother during what he feels can only be a heroic adventure. Despite their personal feelings and reservations, the brothers have no choice but to obey their master and set off to Grenada…
I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get round to this one. I’m often late to the party and the fact that I only read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (JS&MN) by Susanna Clarke (2004) in 2021 is proof of this. Clarke's debut fantasy novel divides readers between those who loved it and … Continue reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke – Book Recommendation
I’ve been intrigued by foxes for many years, my interest and imagination kindled by the mysterious and often mystical representation of foxes in literature. But I wanted to become better acquainted with the animals themselves and Brand’s book, packed with her knowledge and research, was an accessible read. The Hidden World of the Fox briefly … Continue reading The Hidden World of the Fox by Adele Brand – Book Review
A witch-hunt in Northern England in 1612 led to the accusation and imprisonment of twelve women. One of the women died in custody, ten were found guilty of witchcraft and hanged. Only one was acquitted. The Familiars explores some of the burning questions around this notorious piece of history: why would women willingly admit to witchcraft if the penalty was death? Considering the lack of evidence, and that the main informant was a child, why was only one woman, Alice Gray, found not guilty? The book is a well-researched work of fiction based on these historic events.
Are there any wild places left in Ireland and Britain? In his book, The Wild Places, Robert Macfarlane embarks on a journey through mountains, islands, moors, forests, salt marshes, and more, searching for ‘wildness’. But Macfarlane must revaluate his own ideas and preconceptions about ‘wildness’ as he discovers and maps the so called ‘wild places’ on these islands in this well-researched book. His search takes him to a variety of landscapes, from the hostile pinnacle of Ben Hope to the fascinating Burren in Ireland. Each landscape is unique and layered as natural and human history entwine.
Clarke creates a strange world and you have to orientate yourself in this labyrinth, but keep reading! Soon I was so intrigued by Piranesi, the House and its mysteries that I didn’t want to stop reading.
I finished listening to the seventh and final Harry Potter audiobook today, written by J.K. Rowling and narrated by Stephen Fry. I hadn’t planned to listen to all seven audiobooks over the past months, but sometimes it's comforting to return to a book or series you love during uncertain or stressful times.
As a child, did you imagine you would be the person you have become? Do you believe memories, especially childhood memories, are like a collection of “polished tiles” that would “someday be the marvellously finished pavilion of the self?” How much of what we remember is true and when does memory give way to fantasy? John Banville explores the unstable qualities of memory and grief in The Sea , a novel awarded the Man Booker Prize in 2005. When we look back at our memories we are confronted with uncertainty, blurred details, figments of imagination, unreliable emotions and doubtful truths about the very events that shape us as adults.
Humans strive for perfection and optimisation. Better skin, better bodies. More efficient cars, more efficient farming. But how far is too far... When dangerous crossbreeds escape labs? When chicken meat is grown without chickens? This is just the tip of the iceberg when Atwood explores these uncomfortable questions in Oryx & Crake .