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Sample Sunday: Decision Time On Ferrante, Fitzgerald and Farrell

Sample Sunday is an opportunity to check all the books on my shelves and decide what to keep

It’s time to move along the shelves to the letter F in my trawl of unread books in the bookcases, deciding what to keep and which to let go. In the case of my collection of novels by Richard Flanagan and J. G Farrell, the decision is an easy one: they are authors I’ve enjoyed reading previously so there’s a very good chance that will continue. From the other Fs on my shelves, I’ve picked out three books where there is more uncertainly whether they will resonate with me.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

The opening novel of Ferrante’s acclaimed Neapolitan Quartet, My Brilliant Friend charts two best friends’ journey into adulthood in post-war Italy. I’ve seen it described as having great emotional depth but I didn’t get that impression from the opening chapter.

The Verdict: I’m torn on this one. In the absence of any real travel to Italy in the near future, this will at least let me indulge in one of my favourite countries. But the fact this whole novel is about a relationship doesn’t excite me.

The Gate of Angels by Penelope Fitzgerald

I’ve read only one novel previously by Fitzgerald and that was  Offshore , the book that won her the 1979 Booker Prize. I was enamoured with it but I know other bloggers rated it more highly. Maybe I’ll get on better with The Gate of Angels, which was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 1990. It’s set in Cambridge and London 1912, following a junior fellow at a college which has never allowed women through its doors. Fred Fairly becomes smitten with a nurse. If he is to win her love he will have to make a huge sacrifice and abandoned his settled life in college.

The Verdict: Undecided. On the basis of reading the first few pages I know it will be well written so it’s going to be a question of whether I find the characters interesting.

The Rising Tide by M J Farrell

M J Farrell, the pseudonym of Molly Keane, tells the story of a gothic mansion, Garonlea, and two women who vie to be queen of the castle. Lady Charlotte French-McGrath has successfully ruled over her family with an iron will, until the arrival of Cynthia – beautiful, young, talented, selfish, and engaged to her son Desmond. Cynthia is a denizen of the Jazz Age and, on the surface, her life passes in a whirl of hunting, drinking, and romance. But the ghosts of Garonlea are only biding their time. They know the source of their power – a secret handed down through generations.

The Verdict: Keep. I’ve read two books by this author and love her psychological depth. Everything points to that being evident in this novel.

Sample Sunday is when I take a look at all the unread books on my shelves and decide which to keep and which to let free. The goal isn’t to shrink the TBR as such, but rather it’s about making sure my shelves have only books I do want to read.What do you think of the decisions I’ve reached? If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to hear from you.

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