There’s a bit of a theme to my reading this year: as with my blog for part of the year, there’s a definite Roman/Italian tinge to some of my reading! I’m not going to blog about all of them (I’ve already blogged Untangling the Web in any case) but just a few that stood out (for both positive and negative reasons!) with thanks to Goodreads for helping me keep track. Resolution for next year: to read more.
I ended the year reading Coriolanus, before during and after seeing the Donmar Warehouse stage version. It made me remember how much I miss reading, watching and studying drama. Still not sure what to make of everything that happens in this one, but it could be new favourite Shakespeare play (after Hamlet studied to death at school!).
A bit of an obscure one inspired by (say it quietly) watching The Borgias. This was the amazing story of Caterina Sforza di Riario Medici. Born the illegitimate daughter of a duke of Milan, she mingled with popes and Cardinals, was both imprisoned in and held Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo, survived the death of two husbands, held the besieged city of Forli, and basically lived a life completely unlike what we might expect of a 15th century noblewoman.
Dominion was a stunning reimagining of what life would have been like if Britain hadn’t entered the Second World War, and instead was under the control of Hitler’s Germany in the 1950s. I think it appealed even more as its central character was a conflicted civil servant – I loved the little details as well, such as the processes involved in accessing top secret files. I came to Dominion as a result of reading Samson’s Winter in Madrid – another tale of a civil servant turned spy that I really loved reading.
I bought The Reason I Jump for someone who works in a SEN school, and they very kindly let me read it. It’s a series of little vignettes from a teenage boy with autism in Japan, translated by David Mitchell. This was an unexpected delight, and gave some real insights into how the world as experienced by people with autism.
I didn’t enjoy this as much as Chevalier’s other works – notably Girl with a Pearl Earring and Burning Bright. It’s the story of women (including archaeologist Mary Anning whose discoveries helped shape the discipline) who stand apart from what’s expected of them, but can’t quite escape the confines of Victorian womanhood.
Others didn’t make quite the hoped-for impression but I was still glad to have read them…
This wasn’t the same Bridget Jones that we remember fondly from the late 90s – this is a grown up widow with children and a financial cushion that makes her harder to identify with.
I’m persevering for this one, as it was much-anticipated after reading and being fond of both its series predecessors: Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood.