My 2020 in books: a reading year in review

I’ve read 52 books this year – a classic number, one for every week. It is down from 85 in 2019 and 100 in 2018, though. However, with my average book length being 353 pages (thank you Goodreads), I think I had a lot of longer reads which took a couple of weeks to get…

Not haunted enough by Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts: Review

2 STARS Dolly Alderton, 2020 CONTAINS SPOILERS ‘When will this all end? I just want someone nice to go to the cinema with.’ The above line was the most heartbreakingly depressing moment in Dolly Alderton’s first novel, Ghosts. It promised ‘whip-smart observations about relationships, family, memory, and how we live now.’ What it presented –…

Film Review: Rebecca

3 STARS Ben Wheatley, 2020 CONTAINS SPOILERS “I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool.” When Armie Hammer delivered this line in a smouldering whisper, clutching Lily James’s face tenderly in both hands against the lush backdrop of an opulent bedroom which suggested sensuality just as much as James’s tilted head and open mouth…

Untimely Endings in Ali Smith’s Summer: Review

4 STARS Ali Smith, 2020 Summer isn’t just a merry tale. Because there’s no merry tale without the darkness.               It’s quite sad that this series has come to an end. The contemporary-est of contemporary novels, they have featured current events often of only a month or two before publication, mixed in with stories about…

The Testaments: The Sequel You Didn’t Know You Needed?

3 STARS Margaret Atwood, 2019 CONTAINS SPOILERS   You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you. In many ways, The Testaments is the exact opposite of The Handmaid’s Tale. There, we were claustrophobically confined to one character’s limited viewpoint. Here, we move rhythmically between three different ones. There,…

White Teeth: the Debut Author’s Hysterical Realism

3 STARS Zadie Smith, 2000   Shiva shook his head. ‘I been out with a lot of white birds, Samad. A lot. Sometimes it’s worked, sometimes it ain’t. Two lovely American girls. Fell head-over-heels for a Parisian stunner. Even spent a year with a Romanian. But never an English girl. Never works. Never.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Too…

Review: Winter

5 STARS Ali Smith, 2017   It’s always such a wonderful moment when one reads the exact right book at the exact right time. For me, Winter was such a book, read in the last days of last year. The first book I read in 2018 was Autumn, and the last book I read in…

My 2018 in Books: Hits and Misses

I have read 100 books this year, of which 49 were for university (where, unsurprisingly, I study English Literature) and 51 were for pleasure. 2018 was a great year in books for me, with loads of new discoveries and enjoyable reads. It was also the year I became more comfortable rating books 2 or 3…

Review: The Death of the Heart

5 STARS Elizabeth Bowen, 1938   “How can you know what she’s like when she’s alone?” This short quotation encapsulates the novel. How can we know what any other person is really like – when they are alone, inside the privacy of their own mind and heart? It is the story of characters struggling to…

Review: Bring Up the Bodies

4 STARS Hilary Mantel, 2012 I loved Wolf Hall, and its successor Bring Up the Bodies was just as wonderful. The story flows on beautifully from the previous book. Settle down for a literary treat, back in the world of Thomas Cromwell… Soon Calais was in an uproar. Letters flitting across the Narrow Sea. Master…