I didn’t have nearly as much time to enjoy reading in March as I would have liked. I did finish five books which was quite an achievement the way things were going!
The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey
The White Dragon completes the Dragon Riders of Pern Trilogy within the Pern chronicles. Trust me the order of reading doesn’t get any less confusing the more you read. As with the other two books I was just left with conflicting feelings – love the story, love the dragons but really quite dislike some of the characters. In this book we follow Jaxom and his white dragon Ruth and I had high hopes that the treatment of women within these books might get better here (see my February Reads and first post on the Pern books). But it got worse, whilst the story itself continued to get interesting. I enjoyed the way the world expanded into the south, and the insight we got into the origins of Pern. But the way Jaxom basically forces a girl to sleep with him, and feels bad about until his dragon ensures him ‘she liked it’ just rubbed me up the wrong way. I will probably continue to read more books from within the chronicles because the dragons are worth it, but these do need to be taken with a pinch of salt and knowledge of the time in which they we were written.
Strictly Bipolar by Darian Leader
This is a short, 80 page book which I devoured in one sitting. I picked it up because I’m interested in being more informed about mental health and I really liked the premise. The author ‘challenges the rise of ‘bipolar’ as a catch-all solution to complex problems, and argues that we need to rethink the highs and lows of mania and depression.’ I enjoyed it very much, and it really made me thing about bipolar and depression in a different way. I will need to read this again, because it was such a quick read it was difficult to retain the ideas it put forward.
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndam
What a book! This was one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. Growing up I loved Wyndam’sThe Chrysalids and I generally love a good bit of apocalyptic fiction so I went into it expecting to enjoy and I certainly did. In The Day of the Triffids we follow Bill and Josella as they make their way through a world that has been irrevocably and inexplicably changed (although we do get an insight into what might have happened later on). The story itself is gripping, with enough tension and drama to make me nearly miss my train stop. But also it got me thinking about a lot of moral issues, the big question boiling down to – when nothing is really left what is the right thing for those who are unharmed to do? Try and help the incapacitated, even though it will mean the eventual destruction of all, or leave them to fend for themselves and make a fresh start elsewhere. Some of the most effecting moments are watching the characters grapple with that question. It’s also terrifying to see society unravel so quickly it felt very realistic – walking plants aside. A highly recommended read.
The Professor by Charlotte Brontë
I really love the Brontë’s. But I really hated this book. I feel awful saying that about an author who I think was probably a genius, but this, her first book, just didn’t work for me. The main character William Crimsworth was unappealing and although I don’t have to like characters, they need to make me feel something. And I pretty much felt bored or slightly repulsed by all the characters in this book. I’m not going to go on about it too much as it feels like this was a warm up act for all the good stuff to come, so I’m inclined to let it go! Let’s move on.
Catherine de Medici by Leonie Frieda
I really enjoyed reading this biography of Catherine de Medici. Leonie Frieda combines a good amount of historical detail with some juicy conclusions without falling into the trap I hate of telling us what Catherine felt at the time (how historians think they can know this always amuses me!). I love reading about powerful women in history and Catherine was certainly that. I also enjoyed getting more insight into France at this time, as usually I read English history and there were some nice links to Elizabeth I. Frieda doesn’t take too biased a view of her subject matter, giving a fair assessment which does have the effect of somewhat clearing Catherine’s name from some of the crimes she is associated with.