What I just finished reading
I had a copy of These Days by Lucy Caldwell all lined up for Ireland but never even got as far as opening the book. Nor did I get around to any of the reviews of books by Irish authors that I read last year.
Wales fared slightly better with The Party Wall by Stevie Davies (OK though a little over-written). I just managed to squeeze in another novel before the end of the month — Drift by Caryl Lewis has become by far my favourite book of the year so far.
Caryl is a TV scriptwriter (she wrote the Welsh/English language drama series Hinterland) and writes poetry, fiction for children and adults all in the Welsh language.
Drift , her first venture into writing in English, is a mesmerising tale set in a small bay on the North Wales coast. The plot revolves around a Syrian mapmaker held prisoner at a nearby army camp, and his encounter with a local girl who has a strange affinity with the sea. Within this framework, we get a haunting tale of people who have become untethered from the world around them. It’s simply stunning.
What I’m reading now
Back in February I decided to reinstate my TBR Book Jar, using this as a way of reading more of the books I already own instead of chasing after the new.
The plan was that each month I would pick out three titles from the jar and commit to reading at least one of them within two months.
My first lucky dip into the jar on March 1, delivered The Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. It’s the first part of his Ibis trilogy, Ibis being the name of an early nineteenth century trading ship used to transport opium and indentured servants.
I’ve read just over 200 pages (300 plus yet to go) and the ship has yet to leave India. Most of the narrative so far has been taken up with introducing the characters who will somehow end up on the ship and the tensions over the trade in opium. I’ve learned a lot about opium through Ghosh’s detailed explanations of how it’s grown, harvested and processed. That isn’s as dull as it might seem — the key point is that this crop effectively made slaves of poor people in India. Fascinating stuff.
By way of light relief, I’m reading The Women in Black by Australian author, Madelaine St John. It was recommended by Bill at TheAustralianLegend when he saw I had enjoyed the department store setting of The Ladies Paradise by Emile Zola. St John’s novel, uses the setting of Goode’s department store in Sydney for a wonderful character study about some of the women who work in ladies fashion. It’s comic but also touching.
What I’ll read next
You all know by now that I don’t like to plan my reading yet I already know of two books that I will be reading in the next few weeks.
As soon as I finish The Sea of Poppies I’ll be moving onto the novel chosen via the most recent Classics Club Spin — The Citadel by A J Cronin. Then I’ll be turning my attention to The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex which is the next book club choice. It’s a historical fiction novel inspired by the real life mysterious disappearance of three lighthouse keepers off the Hebrides in 1900.
It’s also time for me to pick another title from the TBR jar to read by the end of May.
That’s more than enough of a plan for me.
What I’m Reading is in support of WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words. WWW Wednesday is actually a weekly meme but I choose to do it just once a month.