Book 17 – Red Shift by Alan Garner

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Never read any Alan Garner before, though there are a number of his books around our house, possibly originating from my older brother’s teenage collection. But this is the 1992 impression and just happened to be sitting on the shelves, so I have no idea how it entered our universe.

Anyhow I read it because:

  • It’s short (I’ve been reading through a lot of doorstops lately)
  • It was mentioned in a tangential discussion about the folk horror genre on my new, favourite books podcast, Backlisted

I think it’s fair to call this quite an odd book. Set in three time periods, but one location, it explores fear, violence, alienation and sex in a way that let’s its early 70s sensibilities hang loose and free.

My main thoughts:

  • Don’t read this if you are looking for coherent narrative (there are three clear “stories”, but you have to work to find them.
  • They’d never publish this under a Young Adult imprint now.
  • I really hated the awful relationship between the modern story male protagonist and his parents.

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Book 16 – A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

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Wow, I had no idea. I’ve not really read any Woolf so far, but I’d this is anything to go by I’ll be teaching much more. Second wave feminism being expounded 30 years before the first wave got going. And such writing.

(PS I’ve only read the first essay so far, may come back to Three Guineas later)

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Book 15 -The Russian Countess by Edith Sollohub

Fascinating autobiographical account of the privileged early life of a Russian woman at the turn of the 20th century, her childhood, marriage and hunting exploits; then the coming of the revolution, separation from her husband and children, hardship, imprisonment and eventual escape to the West.

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Book 14 – The Glory Boys by Gerald Seymour 

Pedestrian thriller, written in 1976, shows its age.

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Book 13 – Emma by Jane Austen 

I will never, ever tire of this novel. That’s all.

(ps, Clueless is the best film version, no contest)

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Book 12 – The Reformed Soul by John Stubbs

So this is a biography of John Donne who as well as being one of the greatest poets the English Language has produced, lived, survived, faltered and prospered through the English Reformation.

It’s there anything this man did not do? He was the young Catholic student, attending both Oxford and Cambridge under the radar of the Elizabethan persecution. He was a law student, putting himself about town (in every possible way).  He was the careerist administrator in Government, the gentleman soldier heading off with the Earl of Essex to the sack of Cadiz, the lovelorn youth with insufficient prospects eloping with his employer’s niece, the exile from influence forced to earn a living by accompanying rich young men on their Grand Tour, and finally the respected clergyman and Dean of St. Paul’s.

This is a fascinating book. I don’t pretend to know much about metaphysical poetry, so can’t really comment on how much insight is given to Donne’s creative life. But as a gallop through the life and times of someone who lived through such a tumultuous period of our history, is definitely a recommend.

(My one gripe is that I wish they had modernised the spelling where Donne’s writing is directly quoted. I found it distracting and annoying)

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Book 11 – Anne of the Island by L.M.Montgomery

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I have recently inherited an elderly aunt’s L.M.Montgomery collection (hence the rather bizarre 1930’s book sleeve) and so have been re-reading what I recollect as my favorite of the “Anne” books.

Still quite like it, possibly not quite as much as I did at fifteen.


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April 23, 2017 · 3:18 pm