Spell the Month in Books: August 2023 

Spell the Month in Books is all about book series this month. i didn’t think I’d be able to come up with enough titles but I surprised myself though when it came to the letter U I did have to use some creativity.

All links will take you to my reviews.

A = L’Assommoir  by Emile Zola 

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to mention one of my favourite books in the Rougon-Macquet series by Emile Zola. i L’Assommoir is a tale about a woman’s struggle for happiness in working-class Paris. Without giving the game away too much I’ll just say that it doesn’t end happily.

U = Unholy  Island by Conrad Jones,

There are surprisingly few books I’ve read whose titles begin with the letter U so I had to turn to my wishlist to find suitable candidates. Unholy Island is the first in the Anglesey Murders crime series. For those of you not familiar with Wales, Anglesey is an island off the coast of North Wales, classified as an area of outstanding natural beauty. It also has deep historical connections to the former Princes of Wales.

G = Germinal by Emile Zola

My first experience of Zola’s work, Germinal has left a lasting impression on me. It’s a hard hitting novel — one of the later titles in his Rougon-Macquart sequence — set in a French mining community. Zola depicts abject poverty among the people who depend on the coal mines to put food on the table yet put their lives at risk every day they go underground.

U = The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen

Another series on my wishlist, this time from a Norwegian author. The Unseen is the first in the Ingrid Barrøy series which is focused on the only family who live on the small Norwegian island of Barrøy. Ingrid is the three year old daughter of farmer-cum- fisherman Hans Barrøy  and his wife Maria who try to cling to their island life despite its hardships.

S = The Small House at Allington by Antony Trollope

The fifth — and penultimate — title in Trollope’s Barsetshire Chronicles, The Small House at Allington has more of a romance element than any of his other books in the series. In place of political intrigue and machinations in the cloiseters we get inter-woven tales of thwarted romances, unrequited love and marriage in all its guises.

T = Tombland by C J Sansom

Tombland is book number five in the series featuring Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer in sixteenth century England. Though there are mysteries in each of the titles, it’s the historical context that gives this series the edge. Here we have a rebellion in East Anglia as peasants rise up in protest against inflation, enclosure of their grazing lands and abolition of the Mass. .

If you fancy having a go at Spell the Month, you’ll find all the info you need on the website of the host, Reviews From the Stacks. The theme for September is going to be much easier I promise because it’s ” Books From Your TBR List”. If your TBR list is as long as mine, you’ll have plenty of options!


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

8 thoughts on “Spell the Month in Books: August 2023 

  • L’Assommoir was so memorable I agree; it has given Germinal a run for it’s money as my favourite Zola to date.

    • I think Germinal has the edge for me because my own grandfathers and many other relatives were coal miners

      • Yes, it will be hard to top Germinal I agree. It was such impressive story telling and attention to detail. I still think about the scene where Etienne went into the mine for the first time…I was claustrophobic on his behalf!

  • Like you I found ‘U’ unrepresented in recent titles read – I had to go back a couple of years unlike for the other letters. Not read any of the novels you list though many of the authors are familiar.

    Here’s my selection:

    • Argonauts of the Air (HG Wells)
    • Unfinished Novels (C Brontë)
    • Ghost Wall (Sarah Moss)
    • Uninvited Ghosts and Other Stories (Penelope Lovely)
    • Simulacrum (Aonghus Fallon)
    • Treacle Walker (Garner)

    • Well I know only one of those titles – Ghost Wall – though haven’t read it.


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