Monday, 8 July 2013

More reading

More comments on what I've been reading recently. I've enjoyed, if that's the right word for my feelings about reading a detective story in which a number of elderly women are brutally murdered, Susan Hill's A Question of Identity, one of her Simon Serrailler novels. The suspense in these stories is well maintained, and the descriptions of other family members' lives adds another element. Simon's relationship with his widowed sister and her growing children helps relieve the tension of the murders he is investigating, adding a more humane perspective. I've read most of this series, I look out for them when visiting my local library.
I thought John Mullan's What Matters in Jane Austen intriguing when I read reviews of it on various blogs and newspapers a while ago, so when I read it I thought it fascinating. I've read and re-read most of Austen's novels, since first being introducd to Pride and Prejudice when studying  A level English many decades ago. The Austen novel we were actually studying was Persuasion, but our English Literature teacher suggested we read Pride and Prejudice as an introduction. We just had to read it, not write notes or an essay on it, although we did have a fairly brief discussion one lesson, I'm sure.  So John Mullan's book can only increase my interest in Jane Austen and her books, as the topics he covers are aspects of her writing, her attitudes, reflections of late eighteenth, early nineteenth century life in England.
 The Road by Cormac McCarthy was made into a film, recently shown on television. I saw it before I read the book, which I don't normally like doing, as the pictures put in my head by the film tend to be the ones that I see when reading. In this instance, I think the film was fairly close to the book, which I found a fairly emotionally harrowing read. Some of the discussion at the book club meeting at which we discussed this book centred round the theme of the ending - was it ultimately hopeful to some degree, or not? Our small group couldn't decide, so we had to each make up our individual mind. As a picture of a dystopian future for the planet and for all life on it, including human, it does not offer very much in the way of optimism, perhaps just an odd glimpse now and then, including the way the father is prepared to sacrifice everything for the son. Some of the scenes described in the book are real horror-story stuff, but then that is the nature of a novel about a world in which all life has changed catastrophically.

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