How do you wrap up March 2020?!? The month the world changed and everyday life became like a dystopian novel or Hollywood blockbuster. I don’t know about you but I keep expecting the soothing tones of Morgan Freeman to pop up at the daily briefing to tell us the world is saved.
For all my glib references to the fact that I had enough books to survive at least 3 pandemics etc etc, none of you need me to tell you that the reality is very different. Life has quite literally been turned on it’s head. My life, everyone’s lives, have changed beyond recognition and people I love and care about are working on the front line.
In such extreme circumstances I nearly abandoned the idea of a Monthly Wrap up. I mean who really cares about what I read last month when we are fighting a global pandemic?
The answer is probably no one, but in times of crisis then normality and routine is some how comforting. So I am clinging to one small shred of normality: I read books and I write about what I have read.
And if no one else reads this, so be it. If nothing else I will have a record of what I was reading in this time of change and extraordinary social history.
That said, it has been very hard to read! As a teacher I am getting to grips with a whole new set of professional challenges. Providing online work for those that want it, remote support for those that need it, managing a team remotely, all whilst managing my own families needs. Daily structures have disappeared and reading time, which I imagined might be plentiful has actually been pretty hard to come by.
And when I do have a slot of uninterrupted time available to me, it has proved somewhat challenging to concentrate! I know I am not alone in the feeling that our Bookish Mojo’s have, at least temporarily, gone walk about! For every book I have finished this month I have abandoned at least one more. Perfectly solid books, but my attention has been so fleeting that I have had to move on, trying to find something to hold me steady.
So the 8 books I have managed to finish this month have worked hard to earn their place.
Of those 8 books, 3 were read in preparation for Blog tours, or in one case my first ‘Blog Blast’.
Rust by Eliese Goldbach was my only nonfiction read of the month. A moving and insightful story of the Rust Belt of the MidWest, it was an illuminating insight into current US politics and a ray of hope in a divided landscape.
The Unreliable Death of Lady Grange by Sue Lawrence took me far away from the current crisis to Jacobite plotting and broken families in the distant past. It’s grounding in truth and ongoing intrigue was enough to break through reality and soothe the soul for a while.
My final blog tour read was the wonderful The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves. It’s a stunner of a book, moving and heartfelt. Published today by Century, I can’t wait to share my review next week.
Also pending a review is the breathtaking My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell. Published in the last couple of days this a must read. Compelling and dark, but oh so important, I am still working on the words to do this one justice.
The Ninth Child by Sally Magnusson was another welcome foray into the past. Just as she proved in her previous novel The Seal Woman’s Gift Sally has the gift to create a beautiful and captivating portrait of time gone by. Her emphasis on strong female characters is captivating and the perfect plotting was inspired.
My final review of the month was She–Clown and other Stories by Hannah Vincent. A complex and beautifully diverse celebration of women, embracing many different roles, lives and viewpoints. It’s sharp, insightful perception was another of those texts that helped me find some escape in this increasingly crazy world.
Finally not reviewed but certainly enjoyed were the final two books of the month Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss and Wild Dog by Serge Joncour.
Wild Dog , which joins a chorus of fantastic books released today is published by Gallic. Translated from it’s native French by Jane Aitken and Polly Mackintosh, this is a book which works across two time periods, both centred on a remote French Farmhouse. Steeped in superstition and overtaken by nature, there is a feeling that any thing could happen.
Tidal Zone, was a treat I had been saving for myself. Sarah Moss is one of my most recent favourite authors, having been blown away by Bodies of Light and Signs for Lost Children last year. Tidal Zone is the story of a family trying to come to terms with the sudden ill health of child, and all the adjustments and emotions that come with it. Given the current climate this might have been just too near the mark. But in Moss’s skilled hands it was an immersive joy. I can’t wait to read Summerwater which is due for publication in this summer, and which I feel privileged to have secured a digital copy of.
So looking forward in this strange and uncertain world , however hard it maybe at times, reading will remain one of my constants. Currently I am tucked into Hamnet By Maggie O’Farrell. This brilliance is my guiding light towards others on the Women’s Prize Longlist, due to become a Short List on 22nd April.
And in other news, next week my little blog turns 1! How to celebrate this blog birthday in uncertain times? Who knows but I will be marking it some special way.
Take care and stay safe