I have read far fewer books this year- mostly due to Covid which closed the library for months, and we moved house. I had set myself the challenge to read my way across Europe, and whilst I did read some new authors and some very good books, I could have done better. Here’s what I managed.
Dostoevsky- Russian- Crime and Punishment- very hard going.
Edith Eger- Hungarian- The Choice- Surviving the holocaust, coming to terms with what happened and choosing to be free from the past and live life to the full. A truly wonderful book, which made it into my top 100- the first this year.
Henning Mankell- After the fire- my Swedish writer- themes of old age, loss of friends, career, health, home, but new life and birth.
Louise Phillips- The Doll’s House–Ireland- satisfyng murder mystery story, very well plotted.
Peter Hoeg- Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow- Denmark– Isaac falls from a roof to his death- Miss Smilla can tell by his footprints in the snow that it was no accident, he had been chased, but why and by whom? First part a delight because of the humour- second part set on a ship was one fight after another and rather dull.
Tove Jansson- Sculptor’s Daughter-Finland- depictions told through short stories based on the authors childhood in a bohemain household with a sculptor father and artist mother. Didn’t warm to the format.
In total I read 47 books. My favourite five of this year were:-
Edith Eger- The Choice- see above, and I have added it to my Top 100 ( see pages )
John Fowles- The Collector- good psychological thriller, Fred collects butterflies, and lacks social skills to make friends, so when he wins the pools he buys a house, coverts the cellar and collects the girl – Miranda-of his dreams, but she doesn’t like being collected and keeps trying to escape. First part and ending written by Fred, middle section the same ground from Miranda’s perspective.
Sarah J Harris- The Colour of Bee Markham’s Murder- a who dun it with a twist as the only witness is Jasper who can’t recognise faces except by the colours he sees. Well written and plotted with humour that stays the right side of laughing with and not at the condition.
Kate Morton- The House at Riverton- Grace a former housemaid, now retired archeologist, tells the story of the family that lived at Riverton from the first world war to the tragedy of a poet’s death by the lake in the 1920s. A wonderfully enjoyable read, that has made my top 100 list for its evoction of the period.
Beth Underdown- The Witch Finder’s Sister- The imagined life of Alice Hopkins- sister to the notorious Matthew Hopkins- witch finder in Essex in the 1640s. Full of growing menace and horror- well plotted and written.
I am currently reading another Kate Morton, and have a good big stack of library books to last me a while, with more on the way. I’d like to keep reading Europen Authors, but my challenge in 2021 is all to do with a TV programme which I watched over Christmas on Channel 5- the 30 best British Books as voted for by viewers from a list compiled from the best sellers list by Channel Five. I’d read 20 of them, so that’s 10 I’d not read. So sometime in the Spring of 2021 I will start on these, and will share the full list here, that’s if I can find the notebook I wrote them all down in by then.
Have you read any of the books I mention here- what did you think?
Meantime Happy Reading,