I feel like I’m in both a reading and a reviewing slump at the moment so I’ve decided to write a bunch of mini reviews in the hope that this will revive my will to write full-length reviews.
My brain has been like a sieve recently (I blame essay marking) so I’m only including five books that I read recently. I’m also giving them star ratings because I feel like mini reviews need them.
Anyways, on to the reviews…
The Rover by Aphra Behn – ★★★½
This is a two-part Restoration-era play about the adventures of a bunch of Englishmen and women who are visiting Naples during Carnival. I wasn’t new to The Rover but this is the first time I’d read both plays together in their entirety so it was an interesting experience. I don’t have much to say since it’s difficult to review the text of plays because they should be performed but the women in this play are wonderful – often brave and confident – and Angellica is a very compelling character. I liked how distinct their voices were, even though I was only reading the plays.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro – ★★★★
I found this to be a straightforward, understated book about the boundary between what is human and what is artificial. It’s difficult to explain how I feel about Klara because, at first, I found it a little underwhelming but it has grown on me in ways I never expected and I’ve come to appreciate how muted the book is. I think the style and the story match the main character perfectly. As always, Ishiguro’s writing is excellent.
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yōko Ogawa – ★★★★½
I expected to love this before I read it, both because it involves maths and because Ogawa is a fantastic writer, and I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed it even more than I expected to.
The plot is almost, but not quite, episodic as it follows a housekeeper, her young son, and an ageing professor with memory problems. The structure fits well with the nature of the Professor’s memory issues as his memory resets every 80 minutes and that reset is emphasised by the short glimpses into their life. There is an overarching plot but, at its heart, this is a tender book about friendship and loss and every part of it is achingly bittersweet.
Murder is Easy by Agatha Christie – ★★★½
I’ll admit that I didn’t realise that this isn’t a Poirot novel until about halfway through but it was a pleasant surprise, to be honest. The plot is interesting enough as it follows a man, Luke Fitzwilliam, an ex-police officer in India, who investigates what he believes to be a string of serial killings in a small village. Fitzwilliam is a welcome change from Christie’s reoccurring detectives because he’s a fresh character and he isn’t as “perfect” as the likes of Poirot. It’s an intriguing, well-written book and it’s just dramatic enough to keep you entertained.
Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands by Mary Seacole – ★★★★
This is a mixture between a memoir and an autobiography but it’s a dynamic book that tells the story of Mary Seacole, a British-Jamaican nurse in the Crimean War. This energy is mostly down to the fact Seacole tells her life story in the order that makes the most sense to her, rather than chronologically, which means that you jump around a lot. I think this showcases Seacole’s personality wonderfully and you really are reading her story in her own words. I learnt a lot about Seacole’s life and opinions. She was a very determined woman.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever write full reviews for these books (although I feel like Klara and the Sun and The Housekeeper and the Professor deserve full reviews) but getting these mini-reviews down has left me feeling a bit lighter. Hopefully, I’ll be able to sort out my reading slump too soon!
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