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You know it’s been a funny old month when you only manage to read three books. As a minimum I aim for five but with Christmas preparations and work commitments ramping up suddenly, I just didn’t have the time. That said, one of the books I read was so utterly perfect for such a period that I couldn’t have timed it better. But more on that below.
Once Upon A River – Diane Setterfield
‘Deliciously slow and meandering, exactly like the river which forms the backdrop of this story. I loved the way this read like a dark fairytale.’
Some say the river drowned her…some say it brought her back to life.
On a cold, midwinter’s night in an ancient inn set along the banks of the River Thames, some locals are entertaining one another with stories when a stranger bursts in through the door. In his arms he carries what appears to be the body of a lifeless little girl. Some hours later, the girl awakens and returns to life. Who is this girl? Where did she come from? Three families step forward to claim her as their own. The little girl doesn’t speak and so the mystery continues. We follow these families as their own dark secrets begin to unravel and we, the outsider, look in on the story as it unfolds.
As I mentioned above, this was a slow story…which fits perfectly with the setting of the book. It was a page turner in as much as I wanted to find out who the little girl actually was but the story develops in its own sweet time and I savoured every second of it. The prose is rich, there is a definitely fairytale-esque quality to the writing and it’s such an atmospheric book. I was a big fan of The Thirteenth Tale so I went into this with fairly high expectations. Suffice to say, they were well met!
5 stars, every day of the week.
I don’t know if it’s the type of book I would reread as I think there was something so sweet about discovering this story for the first time but it’s definitely one I would recommend to friends and I will treasure it for a long time.
Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #2) – Jessica Townsend
‘Whimsical and fun. A fantastic sequel. Excited for the next instalment already!’
This is the sequel to the popular middle-grade book ‘ Nevermoor’ which is about a young girl called Morrigan Crow. Morrigan has grown up her whole life believing that she is cursed, and that she is destined to die at midnight on her 11th birthday. Just before that time comes, she is whisked away to a magical world where she discovers that she has the chance to compete for admittance to an exclusive magical society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against other children.
This book picks up where the previous one leaves off so it is difficult to discuss it without giving too much away. Suffice to say it is as whimsical, loveable and adventure-filled as the first book. Morrigan is a fantastic and likeable protoganist and I thorughly enjoyed all the twists and turns of this story, as well as the diverse and interesting cast of characters. Did I guess the ‘bad guy’? Yes…but I’m 32 and not 12 so that was probably to be expected.
I thought this was thoroughly enjoyable. Meg has already read this (she got it out of the library as she wanted to know what happened before I bought it!) but I’m looking forward to reading it with Eli.
Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton
‘A light and easy read. Interesting in parts but verging on a little too self-indulgent. Won’t be for everyone.’
This was the Bookish Mamas choice for Non-Fiction November and I have to admit to being largely in the dark about who Dolly Alderton actually was before picking this book up. Everything I Know About Love is a memoir of sorts; Dolly relaying her experiences of love and relationships from her younger, formative years through to the present.
Initially I thought I was really going to enjoy the book as we are of an age and therefore our childhood memories were quite similar. The trip down memory lane for the 00s (so much of my childhood spent on MSN messenger!) was great but overall I found once we got past childhood and into adolescence and beyond, this was quite difficult to read. It’s a light and quick read and Dolly has a writing style which definitely flows, but as the book progressed I found it to be increasingly self-indulgent (although I’m not a big memoir reader so perhaps this is symptomatic of the genre?) and ultimately, I felt quite sorry for Dolly.
The ending, in which she talked about the need and the importance for love in other forms, such as through female friendships was great. But I thought the book just featured too many drunk and silly moments striking a strange tone. She was clearly attempting to be sensible and disapproving but really wanted us all to admire how daft and carefree she was. Not something I hugely enjoyed reading if I’m honest.
I wouldn’t read this again and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it unless someone professed to already being a huge fan of Dolly Alderton’s. I don’t regret reading it but I’m glad it didn’t take up too much of my time.