February Summary and Plans for March

February was a reasonable reading month for me. There were lots of enjoyable books, but nothing stood out above the others. This means that for the first time ever there is no book of the month. 🙁

Books Reviewed in February:

Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander 

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick 

Wetlands by Charlotte Roache 

Traveller of the Century by Andrés Neuman 

The Dig by Cynan Jones 

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas 

Season to Taste by Natalie Young 

A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe 

Plans for March

In preparation for the announcement of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction I’m reading as many contenders as possible. I’ve just finished The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (review coming soon) and am half way through Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter and Good Kings, Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum. I then plan to try The Tell-tale Heart by Jill Dawson and any other interesting book that gets a mention in the run up to the prize. Once the longlist is announced I plan to try any that are new to me and mix them with a few of these books:

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

From the Fatherland With Love by Ryu Murakami

The Sound of One Hand Clapping by Richard Flanagan

Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

I hope you have a wonderful March!

10 replies on “February Summary and Plans for March”

I’ve read just two of your February books – ‘The Dig’ I think we pretty much agreed on, though I perhaps liked ‘Barracuda’ more than you did (but then I haven’t read ‘The Slap’ to compare it to). I’ll be looking forward to your review of ‘The Sound of One Hand Clapping’ if you do read it – I read my first Flanagan last year (‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’) and thought it was stunning.

February was a mixed month for me: one book I loved so much I almost went back to the beginning and read it again, and it’s sure to be one of my books of the year – Robert Penn Warren’s magnificent ‘All the King’s Men’ (can’t wait to see what you made of it!). I’ve already bought a couple of his other novels as a result.

I finally got around to reading Daphne DuMaurier’s ‘Rebecca’ and thought it was incredibly enjoyable in an escapist way. I do wonder how much its enduring appeal owes to Hitchcock though – I’m not sure it is truly great enough to merit its status as a modern classic. Still, I’m very glad I’ve read it and wouldn’t mind trying some more DuMauriers.

Christopher Koch’s ‘The Year of Living Dangerously’ (1978) is a fascinating novel about an Australian journalist in 1960s Jakarta during the final days of President Sukarno’s rule. It’s the second of Koch’s books I’ve read and I can see him becoming a favourite.

I also really enjoyed Thomas Keneally’s ‘Shame and the Captives’ about a POW camp in Australia from which the Japanese prisoners break out. It’s told in an almost documentary style and is one of the best of his I’ve read.

Disappointing was Mary Miller’s ‘The Last Days of California’, a competent coming of age-meets-road trip story. It’s a fast read and moderately funny but it does nothing I haven’t read many times before and, ultimately, goes nowhere.

Helen Dunmore’s ‘The Lie’ was good though not without problems. Currently I’m just in the middle of Joan Lindsay’s ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ (1967) and haven’t made my mind up about it yet.

I also read four short story collections – really didn’t like Lydia Davis’s much-acclaimed ‘Varieties of Disturbance’ (2007) and was underwhelmed by Tessa Hadley’s ‘Married Love’ (2012) but I must recommend Isabel Huggan’s ‘The Elizabeth Stories’ (1984) even to you, Jackie – it’s a linked collection and follows a girl in provincial 1950s Ontario from the age of 7 until she’s 17. It’s one of the best collections I’ve read, and why Huggan isn’t spoken of alongside Alice Munro, Mavis Gallant et al. is a mystery to me.

As for March, I might be tempted to read some of the Bailey’s longlist, but I also want to read either ‘Gone with the Wind’ or Herman Wouk’s ‘The Caine Mutiny’ as I seem to be having great success with these Pulitzer-winning chunksters lately. Hope you have a great month 🙂

David, I’ve only read one Flanagan book (Gould’s Book of Fish) and I also thought it was stunning. I don’t know why I haven’t tried any of his other books yet, but at least I plan to change that soon. Hopefully it is just as good.

I agree with your thoughts on Rebecca – it was a very enjoyable book, but I didn’t think it was outstanding and can’t really understand why people rave about it so much.

I’m afraid we don’t share our thoughts on All the King’s Men. I’m not enjoying it at all. I think I’ve abandoned it, but may give it one last try later this week – just because it is such a classic.

I seem to love Pulitzer chunksters too. I thought Gone with the Wind was outstanding. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I haven’t read ‘The Caine Mutiny’ but look forward to your thoughts on it.

Thanks for all your thoughts! I may even try the Huggan – I might surprise myself! Have a wonderful March!

For the first time ever? Sheesh, that is some milestone. When you read such a lot, not to have even one that stands out. Not that that’s really a bad thing, a month of good reads is more enjoyable overall than a month’s worth of disappointing reads, but interesting nonetheless. I’ll be curious to see how your March shapes up!

Can’t believe I haven’t read any of your Feb read:( I did like Labor Day though (March) so hope that you enjoy that one as well.

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