Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood
Every Atwood book I read is totally different, you never really know what to expect and this definitely applies to Lady Oracle. It tells the story of a woman Joan from her childhood through to womanhood, from fat to thin, from no one to someone and everything in between. Joan lives a life of multiple identities and although I really can’t understand a lot of her decisions I some how really felt for her. When she recounts her girlhood I found it a painful reminder of how cruel kids and be and I really sympathised with her confusion over trying to be what people want her to be. I liked the narrative style, very Atwoodian, of skipping back and forwards in time. I also enjoyed the inserts of the main character’s ‘gothic romance’ books which I imagine Atwood enjoyed writing. If you love Atwood you won’t disappointed with Lady Orcale, but if you have never read any before this could be a good place to start as it isn’t too long and is very readable.
At the Court of the Boriga by Johann Buchard (edited by Geoffrey Parker)
After reading Blood and Beauty a couple of months ago I wanted to find out more about the Borgia dynasty. Buchard was the Master of Ceremonies at the Vatican during Alexander VI’s time as pope and kept a diary throughout this period. This was a very factual book, a lot of the time just listing events and who attended, but it is a clear picture of the politics of the time and it helped me to get a better view of the timeline of events. It’s edited well and the introductions to each section were very helpful.
Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson
I can’t believe I’ve never read any Winterson before because I loved this book. I really connected with the main character. Although her struggles – rebelling against the church she has been brought up with so that she can be who she is, and love who she wants – are perhaps a little surreal, the theme of standing up for who you really came through and resonated with me. Somewhat auto-biographical, Winterson’s coming-of-age story is very poignant and I was also really taken with her writing style and look forward to reading more from her.
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
This was an usual choice for me, I tend to read mainly historical, fantasy or classics. But this was set in the modern age with no magical elements. It’s just about people, very real people, living their lives and having relationships. It’s a family saga spanning a couple of generations of an Indian family set partly in India but mainly in America where one of the main characters moves. Lahiri treats emotions and relationships with a rare insight and sensitivity which I really enjoyed reading. I found it a very satisfying book for that reason and something very different to my normal reads.
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
It took me nearly the whole month to read this book. Which surprised me as I was expecting the fly through it, but to be honest it is a hard read. Wolf hasn’t really found her writing style yet in this book (it was her first) and the very important and very valid points she makes do run the risk of getting lost in the wordiness of the book. The Beauty Myth looks at the way images of beauty have been used since women’s emancipation to continue to oppress women in ways we might not even be aware of. How I feel about this book, and what it says is complex and can’t be covered in this short paragraph so I am planning a post completely dedicated to it, so watch out for that soon.
This month I’m particularly looking forward to reading:
The Story of Britain by Roy Strong
Catherine de Medici by Leonie Frieda
The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey