Well this is rather late to be doing a March update, isn’t it? It seems already to be the middle of April…
I didn’t read nearly as much this month as I wanted to since I was commuting 3 hours a day to and from work, editing a history documentary about the 1967 abortion act. Mentally my head was in the rather difficult subject matter and physically I was exhausted from leaving the house at 6.45am and rarely getting home before 9pm. When I finally had a break, I collapsed and barely regained consciousness for another fortnight.
I had a few books in mind to read this month, thinking the long commute would allow me to read lots. But what I actually ended up doing was spending the dark journey on the 7.08am train trying to wake up with the help of a large travel mug of coffee and passively listening to podcasts. The journey home was just spent trying not to fall asleep and miss my stop. So rather than trying to coax my brain into reading anything too challenging, I went for a couple of books I knew would keep me turning the pages without having to think too much.
The first book I read was a thriller, The Child by Fiona Barton. It starts intriguingly with reports of the body of a small child found buried underneath a building site in London. The story switches between being told by four different characters, one of which is an investigative reporter and the other three are women who are related in some way to the discovery. Despite the gruesome subject matter it is an enjoyable mystery which ties up satisfyingly at the end.
Next was a book that someone in Waterstones in Dorchester recommended to me, Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor. Another book based on a mystery, but this story doesn’t set out to solve it, rather to reflect on the repercussions on the rural community in which it takes place. The book begins with a teenage girl going missing and locals taking up the search to look for her. The narrative then spans across the weeks, months and years following her disappearance. The writing style is unusual in that it is written in short sentences, the characters stories are interwoven with beautifully written poetic descriptions of nature and the seasons. My one criticism is that because there are many characters and not a great deal of exposition because of the writing style of short paragraphs, I found it a little confusing in places and had to keep flicking back through to remind myself who was who.
Finally, came my favourite book this month (and probably in many months!), Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, which I really should have just waited a few weeks to buy in paperback. But sometimes you just need a book right NOW. This book is set in the 90s in a community called Shaker Heights, an idealistic, progressive suburb where lawns are manicured and front doors can only be painted approved colours. It begins with a teenage daughter setting fire to her family home and then takes you back through the circumstances that led up to that day. It is a wonderful study of family relationships and what goes on behind closed doors in this otherwise perfect suburban community.
That was March, I hope you had a good month and read some good books too.