Charlotte Wood has recently won the Stella Prize for her novel The Natural Way of Things, so I thought it was timely that I provide my review of this award winner. I recently saw Charlotte discussing this book at Adelaide Writers’ Week and I immediately put it on hold at my local library as it sounded like something I would very much enjoy.
The general story is about a group of girls who are imprisoned somewhere in the Australian outback because, we quickly discover, they have all been involved in some very public sexual scandal with a powerful man. The conditions the girls are kept in are awful; they are given old fashioned uniforms, their hair is cut, they are forced to work all day, and then they are locked into kennels at the end of the day, filthy and exhausted. Their jailers are two young men – one cruel and one who seems milder – and a woman who seems desperate to fit in with these men.
I have been a fan of Neil Gaiman’s for many years by proxy. What I mean is, I first heard about him through Wil Wheaton’s blog (who I have adored since I was 12), then enjoyed reading Neil’s blog (she says as if they’re on a first name basis) for some years before I read one of his short stories in a collection he put together and contributed to (the collection is called Stories: All New Tales, for those interested). Then I just kept admiring Neil from afar until his writing in the Miracleman comics. So it’s a bit surprising, really, that it took me this long to read one of Neil’s novels. The Ocean at the End of the Lane sounded like a great story and had received excellent reviews, so I was looking forward to finally reading it.
While most people prefer to spend their summer holidays reading something light, I decided to tackle one of the larger books on my ‘to read’ pile: Purity by Jonathan Franzen.
Those familiar with my blog will know it is quite impossible for me to pick only one favourite book. I have my top 4, in no particular order, and then a bunch of other books worthy of being in the top 5 that can chop and change depending on my mood. But if someone was to force me to pick just one book as my favourite, it would be Franzen’s Freedom, so when Purity was released I snapped it up with glee and have been waiting for the perfect opportunity to sink time into it. My week-long trip to Perth seemed like the perfect time to see whether Franzen still holds up for me. A long flight + time to relax = perfect reading conditions.
I have been a Very Bad Blogger so far this year (hence the new theme – time for a blog refresh), but I have been reading like a woman possessed. Earlier this year, due to a bit of a health scare, I decided to defer my studies for 2015 and spend a year just focusing on work and on myself. I’m absolutely intending to complete my current studies and go on to do my PhD, but for now it is me time. It’s been so nice to read simply for pleasure! I’ve taken the opportunity to smash the reading challenge I had set for myself, and so far have read the following:
Last Wednesday night I had the experience of hearing one of my favourite Australian authors, Kate Grenville, speaking about her new non-fiction book, One Life: My Mother’s Story, at the Coventry Library in Stirling thanks to Matilda Bookshop. The book is basically about her mother’s life from her birth in 1912, through her time working as a pharmacist and her marriage to a solicitor, in a time when women rarely started their own businesses or worked in pharmacy while trying to raise three children.
I always find these quite interesting The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.
Click here to see the complete report.
I have been a Very Bad Blogger in 2014, but an excellent reader. I aimed to have read 30 books this year and have managed to read 33 so far, with a few days of the year left, so I’m happy with that, but humbly apologise for neglecting this blog so badly. I really have no decent excuse. This has meant that I have read a number of books that haven’t been reviewed on this blog yet. I do hope to rectify this in 2015 and turn into a Slightly Better Blogger. Anyway, it’s now time to reflect on my reads over the last 12 months and provide my opinions, because I can!