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What I’m Reading: Episode 33, April 2021

I think I’m suffering from an overdose of reading events. Although I enjoy the spirit of camaraderie when know bloggers all over the world are reading books on a particular theme, the last few months do seem to have been over-crowded. Wales Reading Month and Irish Reading Month (both in March) were barely over when it was time to get ready for #1936Club.

Add in some book tour commitments and the monthly book club selection and it felt like i was spending most of my time “reading to order” rather than reading what I fancied at the time. So I’m going to give reading events a wide berth for a few months. Clearly you can have too much of a good thing,

I have one book tour commitment next month and the book club choices but beyond that it’s free-wheeling reading all the way. .

What I just finished reading

My “rule” for taking part in reading events is to read only books I already own. Which presented a bit of a problem when it came to the #1936club hosted by Simon of Stuck In A Book and Karen of kaggsysbookishramblings. 

The General by C S Forester was one of only two novels on my TBR published in 1936, both having a military flavour. The other book is Old Soldier Sahib by Frank Richards which is an autobiography of his time as a soldier in British India from 1906 to 1912. That didn’t seem much fun so, by default, The General became my choice. Actually it was more interesting that I’d anticipated.

It’s a portrait of a military commander during World War 1, a man whose decisions send thousands of men to their deaths. We get to understand how Herbert Curzon earned promotion after promotion through steadfast dedication to the principles of obedience and duty. He’s the kind of man who – in subsequent decades – was held responsible for the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of infantrymen. What makes a man like that tick is one of the questions Chesterton examines. Well worth reading though be warned that the book does contain some tedious passages about military command structures.

What I’m reading now

The book club choice for this month is an exciting choice. Much more to my taste than last month’s selection of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley.

This is the blurb for The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood:

In Roaring Twenties Germany, Paul, Charlotte and Walter meet at the Bauhaus art school. The trio form a close-knit group, in which passions and rivalries collide. But when Walter is betrayed, he makes a terrible mistake – a secret he will keep from Paul and Charlotte for as long as he can.

As political tensions escalate and the Nazis gain power, Walter’s secret – hidden in notebooks, paintings and blueprints – ultimately threatens the very lives of his friends, with devastating consequences.

That mention of Roaring Twenties Germany was enough of an enticement but add in the Bauhaus movement and I was sold!. Despite the fact I have the artistic talents of a flea, I’m a sucker for any novel that has an art related theme. I spent the best part of a day at the Bauhaus museum in Berlin a few years ago so I’m thinking that this book will bring back some fond memories.

Emnet by Sara Gethin figures in my reading plans at some point the next few weeks. This is due for publication by Honno on May 20 and I’m taking part in the blog tour as part of my efforts to support authors and publishers from Wales. I read Not Thomas, Sara’s debut earlier this year and was impressed by her ability to capture the speech and thoughts of a troubled five year old boy. The blurb for her new novel reads:

Summer 1966: When her father comes home with lipstick on his collar, ten-year-old Claire’s life is turned upside down. Her furious mother leaves the family and heads to London, and Claire and her brothers are packed off to Ireland, to their reclusive grandmother at her tiny cottage on the beautifully bleak coast of Connemara. A misfit among her new classmates, Claire finds it hard to make friends until she happens across a boy her own age from the school next door. He lives at the local orphanage, a notoriously harsh place. Amidst half-truths, lies and haunting family secrets, Claire forms a forbidden friendship with Emmet – a bond that will change both their lives forever.

Beyond that, there is the book club choice for May of The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennent , a novel about which I know very little other than it deals with issues of race and identity.

Somewhere in the mix there’ll be some translated fiction. And that’s as much planning as I want to do right now. We’ll see this time next month where my freewheeling reading took me and whether I manage to stick to the plan of pressing pause on reading events.


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