January Reading

Not the most impressive month, in terms of the numbers.


Abby McDonald, Getting Over Garrett Delaney: YA romance. Or anti-romance, really, since this is all about Finding Oneself (or at least admitting that one hasn’t already achieved this) and does not end in a relationship, only the potential for one. There was nothing really remarkable about this, but it’s mostly well done. I’m interested, though, in YA authors using Kerouac-fandom as a sort of shorthand for a certain sort of teenage boy- this is the second time I’ve seen it in the last few months (the other was Anna Carey’s Rebecca’s Rules) and it makes me wonder how many of us have been thus afflicted.


Evelyn Smith, The First Fifth Form: The only thing by Evelyn Smith I’ve read. I liked this, it was both funnier and more character-driven than a lot of school stories. I bought this for the kindle- I’m hoping with this (and GGBP’s recent adoption of ebooks, though not in the most efficient of ways) internet publishing is going to mean things like out of print school stories are made more easily available.


Mayank Austen Soofi, Nobody Can Love You More: I wasn’t a fan. Review here.


Suniti Namjoshi, The Fabulous Feminist: I was a fan. Review here, quotes here.


Keith Ridgway, Hawthorn and Child: I don’t know if this book became the darling of the whole internet this last year or if I just happened to be aware of (many of) the sort of people who embraced it. I finally read it this month and it’s as good as was promised, wonderfully clever and frustrating. I’m going to read it again, and I think it deserves a separate post, but for now, know that it is good.


Antonia Forest, Peter’s Room: I have about 2000 words on this and will be adding more before I unleash it upon the internet. This is probably Forest’s best work, and you all know how much I admire her.


Musharraf Ali Farooqi and Michelle Farooqi, Rabbit Rap: I was not a fan. Review here.


Jash Sen, The Wordkeepers: I’m working on a long-ish piece about Indian fantasy that bases itself in Hindu myth, and have belatedly realised that this will mean reading a number of books I really don’t like. Next, Amish Tripathi.


Simon Crump, My Elvis Blackout: Reviewed for the column. As I say there, I’m not sure how far I can talk about enjoyment with a book like this- but it’s very well done. Sincere respect, then.


Georgette Heyer, The Unknown Ajax and The Convenient Marriage: We have adopted a puppy. His name is Oliver, he’s tiny, and he’s only now becoming comfortable in his new home. Heyer kept me company on a few long nights of new parent panic/ puppysitting. I have nothing new to say about these books though; I’ve read them too many times before.


Richard Jefferies, After London: Reviewed for the column, and will be on the blog in a few days. This was nothing like I expected it to be but I think I really liked it.


Stephanie Laurens, The Perfect Lover: The good thing about Laurens is that one can read her very quickly by skimming past all the sex. If you do this, and ignore the main couple who have both independently decided to marry (he because he’s inherited a house and wants a family to put in it, she because she craves children) it is a country house murder mystery. Kitty Glossop, the flirty, flighty young wife of the eldest son of the house, is found strangled in the library. Kitty has a habit of flirting with all the men (who are disgusted, of course, by this behaviour), and is pregnant with a child that is definitely not her husband’s. To everyone’s amazement, it turns out that the one young man who the text does not encourage us to think wonderful and noble is the culprit (I was unamazed).

The thing that really annoyed me about The Perfect Lover is the set of ways in which the text demonised Kitty. We’re told over and over that all the heroes of these books have had multiple affairs, often with married women. Here we see them recoiling in horror from the idea of this particular woman cheating on her husband … because they know him and he seems nice? Meanwhile, our heroine is shocked to hear Kitty complain that her husband is pressuring her to “give him children”; our heroine, being a proper woman, knows that being a mother is the best thing ever. What possible reason could any woman give for not wanting children? The text gives Kitty one – pregnancy will make her fat and men won’t want her anymore. Because not only is she an unnatural creature who doesn’t want babies and a raging slut, but she’s letting her raging sluthood get in the way of babies. And I’m not even going to talk about our heroine who can quote Virgil but doesn’t know how to get herself a man, or some of the evasive half-truths that lead this couple to sex. In conclusion, fuck this book.


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