What I’ve been reading: May

So, I’m not going to lie: apart from the physical books, sunburn is the only evidence of my reading this month. But sunburn aside (it’s turning into tan now anyway), it’s been a bumper book month, mostly because of my newly free Fridays. It’s also a month that I’ve just realised is also dedicated to female authors, so that’s pretty cool. Here’s what I’ve been reading…

The Radiant Way – Margaret Drabble

This was a slow start for me, and I thought it was going to be very Mrs Dalloway-esque (it starts with a marriage and a party and a fancy house in London). Safe to say, it is not. The Radiant Way is way more political and overtly feminist. It’s set in the early 1980s, and it’s insane how many of the issues they address, like class divides, family relationships and otherness, are exactly the same now, 40 years later. What I loved about this novel was the link between personal identity and collective experience. The issues that are explored in The Radiant Way are major parts of its core characters lives, in both obvious and more nuanced ways. This one took a while to get into, but if you have the time to dedicate to it, it’s a really interesting read.

A Spool of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler

I always love Anne Tyler and I’ve been saving this one for a rainy (or in this case, sunny) day. Like the rest of her novels A Spool of Blue Thread explores the intricacies of relationships and family life in a way that’s both inward looking and externally focused. Similarly to A Ladder of Years, which I’ve written about before, A Spool of Blue Thread is as much about motherhood as it is about the absence of it. Spoiler alert: the death of Abbie, about halfway through the book, shows just how delicate the family structure is, and how things can so easily fall apart without a central individual. The plotlines of Anne Tyler’s novels always sound pretty boring when they’re written down like this, but the richness of her characters and storytelling is something that I can’t express in my own writing; you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty

This isn’t the kind of book I would normally pick up in a shop, but I bought it on recommendation from a friend. It definitely surprised me. It’s full of twists and turns and you’re constantly second guessing yourself. In a nutshell, it starts with a barbecue, and soon spirals out into a story how one moment can change everything, from your perspective on your own life to relationships and family dynamics.

 

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