Sunday 18 August 2019

Quick Lit August 2019

I was feeling it was time for a change, and to bring book reviews more in line with the general point of the blog, so for this and maybe future link ups with Modern Mrs Darcy I decided to feature one book, be briefer with the others, and highlight good travel reads. Hope it works.

Caroline Fraser - Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder
I've mentioned before that, being British and only having read the Little House books as an adult, I don't have the same emotional investment in Laura the person as many US readers - and what an investment that is, judging from the impassioned reader reviews of this Pulitzer-Prize winning biography. Still, even I felt the almost bodily blows as I plunged into the full extent of the homesteading failures of both Laura's parents and herself and Almanzo, and I am not ashamed to say that I had to choke back tears as I read of Almanzo's death. It is, though, ultimately a story of victory, of the little girl who weathered poverty and starvation to become an author beloved around the world, who rallied a nation in the midst of the Great Depression and immortalized the values of the pioneers. There's a lot of general history to set Laura's story within context (which I admit to not always reading very closely), and you may take issue with Fraser's opinions (she certainly doesn't like Laura's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane), but it was a fascinating read. She deals honestly with difficult subjects as well, such as Laura's ambiguous attitudes towards race, not unusual for her time, but jarring to us today. My favourite part was, of course, the writing of the Little House books, with Fraser's analysis of the literary mystery as to the extent of the collaboration between Laura and Rose, an established journalist. My girls are grown, but I am already wondering if my little boy will stand to have the books read aloud to him. Surely plucky Laura appeals to boys and girls alike?

Oscar Wilde - The Canterville Ghost [audiobook]
This is the sole reason I signed up for the Audiofile SYNC YA summer reading giveaway (though I ended up downloading a few other books). I know I read it as a child, but there is only one scene, from the end, that sticks in my memory. A comic short story of ancient English ghost meets progressive American family. Nice theatrical production, with a  wonderful range of tongue-in-cheek voices by Rupert Degas that captures Wilde's satire.

*BEACH READ* Jenny Colgan - Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery
I thought this sequel was possibly better than the first. Polly, her American boyfriend Huckle, and their pet puffin, Neil, seem to be enjoying the perfect life living in their lighthouse and running a bakery on Polbearne island. But when unexpected disaster strikes, they must temporarily separate in order to save the life they love. Will it work out? Of course, this is Jenny Colgan, so I knew the answer to that, but she had me glued to the book as usual.

Sayaka Murata - Convenience Store Woman [audiobook]
Keiko has been stuck in her convenience store job for eighteen years. Socially dysfunctional, it offers a world of set rules that help her navigate life. But her friends would rather she was a 'normal' person with a partner and problems than the happy abnormal person she is. Funny, sweet, and disturbing by turns, with a sensitive narration by Nancy Wu with just a hint of an accent to get us into character.

Alex Martin - Daffodils
I am trying to make myself read the backlog of books that I got for free, just because they looked interesting at the time. This is the first in a family saga series. Circumstances curtail Katy's wish for adventure before settling down, but then World War I brings upheavals and opportunities she has never dreamed of. A light read.

Wishing you the best for end of summer reading!