So that’s January done and dusted. Not one of my favourite months usually but this year we’ve been blessed with some glorious blue skies and crisp days. Perfect for the start of my challenge to walk 1000 kilometres by the end of the year. Only 896k to go… I should make it providing we don’t have any snowstorms or long stretches of icy weather because I’m not too secure on my pins in those situations.
January Reading in Brief
The reading year has got off to a cracking start with six books, three of which I know are going to be contenders for “Favourite Reads of 2022”.
In my recent review of Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller I described it as a cleverly-written novel about the complex and messy world of a relationship that goes sour. It was my first experience of Claire Fuller’s writing but it certainly won’t be my last – within days of finishing Swimming Lessons I’d already bought her more recent novel Unsettled Ground.
I’m behind with reviews for the other three novels in the photo. They’ll be coming soon I hope.
Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood was a bargain purchase five years ago and I’m kicking myself that it’s taken this long to read it because it’s simply wonderful. I don’t care for Ernest Hemingway a writer (his prose is too sparse for my taste) and now, having heard this tale of the the way he treated his four wives, I dislike him as a person.
Last autumn, the BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week was RC Sheriff’s A Fortnight in September. I happened to hear one episode and that was enough to make me want to read the unabridged print version. First published in 1931, this is an absolute gem of a novel. An utterly charming but not sentimental quiet tale of a family who embark on their annual holiday in Bognor Regis. Sheriff captures everyday life for a fairly typical middle class family, reminding us of a time when people could take pleasure in simple things.
On Wilder Seas by Nikki Marmery was the book club choice for January. It sounded promising — a tale, based on fact, of the only woman on board the Golden Hind during Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the world. But the delivery was disappointing with too much historical information crammed into the narrative ( a common problem for me in historical fiction).
Missing from the photograph are two books I read in e-format, both published in 2022. A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe (My review is here) focuses on the emotional turmoil of a young embalmer who responds when tragedy strikes a South Wales mining community in the 1960s. The Old Woman With The Knife by Gu Byeong-Mo (my review is here) is an odd novel about a 65-year-old South Korean woman who is a paid assassin.
On The February Horizon
You should know by now that I don’t make reading plans. I never stick to them so there’s little point in making them. I just have vague ideas instead of what I’d like to read.
It’s #ReadIndies 2022 — a brilliant idea from Karen @Kaggsy’sbookishrambings and Lizzy @ Lizzy’sLiteraryLife to celebrate independent presses over the whole of February. I’m just about to finish my first contribution: An Exquisite Sense of What Is Beautiful by J. David Simons, published by Saraband. Exquisite it certainly is.
I hope to read at least one more indie published novel. It could be A Long Way from Douala by Max Hope, published by Hope Books as a coming of age story of two boys in Cameroon. Or I might go for another Saraband title: As The Women Lay Dreaming by Donald Murray which is based on the true story of the sinking of a ship carrying servicemen back from active service in WW1.
How was your January? Any stand out novels that you would recommend? I would love to know what you’ve been reading, and what you plan to read in February.