Reading Horizons: Episode 16

Reading Horizons: 20 March 2019

What are you currently reading?

The Kill (La Curée) by Émile Zola

I’m long overdue a return to the world of the Rougon-Macquart families as depicted in Émile Zola’s 20-volume  series. April 1 sees the start of  an annual event of reading all works related to Émile Zola – which has given me the impetus to pick up The Kill. This is the second novel in the series and deals with the lives of the extremely wealthy Nouveau Riche in Paris in the mid nineteenth century, laying bare their lust for power and money.  Zola describes this period as

… a time when the rush for spoils filled a corner of the forest with the yelping of hounds,, the cracking of whips, the flaring of torches. The appetites let loose were satisfied at last, shamelessly, amid the sound of crumbling neighbourhoods and fortunes made in six months. The city had become an orgy of gold and money.

It’s got off to a terrific start with some lengthy descriptive passages showing the excesses of the Second Empire (middle of the nineteenth century).

What did you recently finish reading? 

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

I’ve seen a number of comments in the blogosphere that Setterfield’s book is rather slow and overly long. That wasn’t my reaction at all. Even though it contained some mythical elements, which usually are a turn off, I thought this was a terrific story.  Review to follow soonish….

What do you think you’ll read next?


I have an advance copy of the latest novel by Alys Conran that I’d like to read soon (it’s published on April 4). I thoroughly enjoyed her debut novel Pigeon (see my review here) which won the Wales Book of the Year award in 2017. Her new novel Dignity is a story of three women: Evelyn, an engineer’s wife in British India; Magda, an old lady stuck in an empty house; and Susheela, a young English carer of Bengali descent in a British seaside town on the verge of collapse.

Also vying for attention are two works of non fiction, both of which were Christmas presents: Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming  and The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, a memoir of a couple who lose their farm and home when the husband gets a diagnosis of a terminal illness. With nothing left, they make an impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, through Devon and Cornwall.

Reading Horizons is linked to WWWednesday, a meme  hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It involves answering 3 questions:

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

About BookerTalk

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

Posted on March 20, 2019, in Bookends, British authors, French authors and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. Glad to hear your NZ holiday turned out fine in the end Karen and that you’re all home safe and sound.

    I read The Kill for last years Zoladdiction with a huge amount of pleasure. I’m up to book 3 in the series now that I’ve decided to read them in order.

    • I’ve read them out of order mostly to date but I have now done exactly as you have and gone back to the beginning. Are you reading in the order of publication or in the order recommended by other Zola fans?

      • I’m going with publication order Karen after reading & enjoying Nana & Germinal so much, I decided to start at the beginning. By the time I get to them again (I only seem to manage one a year with Zoladdiction) I’ll be happy to reread them!

  2. I don’t know what to do about the Setterfield. I have been disappointed by both her previous books. I am really going to need convincing that this is a step forward to be persuaded to try it.

  3. I too was enchanted by Once Upon A River. I am currently reading America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Costello. Struggling with it a bit though I must admit I have not before read a novel about Filipinos before, so a new area of the world is opening up for me. I recently finished the second volume of three in the Taylor Branch biography of Martin Luther King. Review coming soon. I have not decided on my next book yet. Like you I am eyeing several choices.

  4. Interested to see what your take is on Once Upon a River! And I haven’t read Michelle Obama’s memoir, but everyone seems to love it (and her!).

  5. The Salt Path sounds beautiful and poignant. I look forward to reading what you think of it.

  6. Currently have four books on the go and it’s one too many for me!
    Hope your jetlag subsides quickly.

  7. I’m teetering on the brink of giving in to Once Upon a River – maybe you’ll be the one to push me over the edge! And I like the sound of Dignity – always interested in books about the British in India…

  8. I just finished the book Holiday that you wrote about awhile back. I found an inexpensive copy on Abe Books. My thoughts on it will be posted soon. Hope you had a good trip down in our neighbourhood.

    • I loved New Zealand – people were so friendly and relaxed. Driving was a pleasure when there were far fewer cars on the road than I’m used to. And of course the scenery was stunning. Only thing I didn’t care for was the food – I was expecting lots of fresh fish and super salads but couldn’t find anything of that nature

      • You need to come to Tassie, the food bowl of Australia. Fresh fish walking hand in hand down the streets. And don’t even start me on the wines, cheeses and fresh produce.😉😉😉

        • I need to recover from the jet lag of this one before I can even think about taking another holiday…. but you make it sound so appealling

  9. I definitely need to try Setterfield!

  10. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed Once Upon a River! It’s waiting on my shelf, but some of the less than enthusiastic reviews have made me a little hesitant to pick it up. I’ll have to get to it soon. Hope you had a wonderful trip and are readjusting to being back home!

  11. Good to see you made it home ok, and I am so sorry we didn’t get to meet up in Melbourne. Another time, I hope!

    • I know, I was so looking forward to that…..

      • We share that experience, Karen, and I’m not going to gloss over that the disappointment lingers. In 2015 I was half way through a trip to the Netherlands, with a week in Cognac after that, when we got the news that my father was gravely ill and had to go home. I wouldn’t/couldn’t have done it any other way, I don’t regret it at all, but my unfinished trip (and the cost of it, too) still haunts me. Now with my MIL too old and frail to leave for long, I sometimes wonder if I will ever be able to soothe my itchy feet…

        • That was one fear I had – that I would get a message one of my parents was unwell. It happened to my husband when we were in California a few years ago and I rang home to learn his mother had died. We were at the end of the holiday and the funeral was delayed until we got home but it was still an awful experience. I can’t imagine the trauma you had knowing you had to get home quickly but still being so far away

        • One of the worst experiences I’ve had but I have to say that our travel agent was fantastic, and Singapore Airlines were wonderful. We took a fast train to Paris and then to the airport, where we had been told to go to the SA desk. Our agent had taken care of everything and we were given two cards, which basically meant that all staff knew I was an emotional wreck and although I wept nearly all the way home, the TLC was very comforting. SA has always been my airline of choice, but now I would never fly long-haul with any other airline.

        • definitely superior to service you would have got from most of the American airlines and British Airways….

  12. I like the sound of Dignity – hope you get over the jet lag soon!

  13. I’m curious about Once Upon a River. Thanks for sharing, and here’s MY WWW POST

  14. I just started Once Upon A River and I’m loving it. It’s exactly my kind of book. So happy you enjoyed it!

  15. Zola seems a lttle challenging for a person suffering from jet lag! I know your trip had its ups and downs, Karen. Hope all is well now and that your partner is recovering.

    • I need something that keeps my attention — but as light relief I have a crime novel on the go as well. Yes we are home now and trying to recuperate….

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