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November 2019 Reading Round Up

November has been brilliant, full of books. I decided on the 30th to try and finish the 250-odd pages I had remaining of the book I was looking to finish next and spent the evening with it to success. I’ve also read a wider variety of books, which most likely helped.

The Books

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Gabrielle Malcolm: There’s Something About Darcy – Malcolm looks at the continuing interest in Jane Austen’s Fitzwilliam Darcy, from early in its publication to the present day. This is a 50/50 book; the first half, which deals with Austen’s near contemporaries and extends just to the 1995 adaptation, is excellent, but the second half is all about fan-fiction, where books are summarised repeatedly.


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Raymond Antrobus: The Perseverance – A collection about the poet’s life as a Jamaican Brit, a person in the deaf community, and various related historical and contemporary stories. Utterly fantastic.


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Julia Armfield: Salt Slow – A collection of short stories about identity, mostly women’s, which takes concepts and realities to their extremes in order to look at them closer. A brilliant collection.

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Nancy Bilyeau: The Blue – 1700s’ Hugenot descendant Genevieve is recruited by Sir Gabriel Courtenay as a spy at Derby Porcelain factory to steal for him the formula for the newest shade of blue; she has agreed because he promised to send her to Venice to train as a painter, but when she comes to know those involved and the reality starts to show itself, she has to make a few decisions. This book is chock full of research to good effect, and whilst the middle is pretty slow it’s worth it as the latter third picks up the pace considerably and the secrets and truths fly everywhere.

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Phillip Lewis: The Barrowfields – Henry looks back on his childhood, his father who tried so hard to be a writer, his distant relationships with mother and sister, and his own attempts to be someone. Utterly fantastic.

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Samantha Sotto: Before Ever After – Shelley’s younger-than-middle-aged husband died and a few years later a boy claiming to be his grandson turns up at her door. Brilliant story combining a mass of different genres.

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Samantha Sotto: Love And Gravity – The cracks in the wall start happening in Andrea’s single digit years and although no one believes her she comes to look forward to the rare sightings of the historical boy, a budding scientist, on the other side of her wall. A great time slip/travel novel that makes use of a box of manuscripts found amongst Issac Newton’s possessions to tell its story.

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Seishi Yokomizo: The Honjin Murders – A couple on their wedding night are murdered in the annex building of the family estate; a three-fingered man was seen around the place the night before and his hand prints are on the wall, but why did it happen? An excellent 1940s novella that is a lot more about the ‘why’ than the ‘who’.

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Stein Riverton: The Iron Chariot – One evening, a little way away from his hotel, our narrator sees the forestry inspector leave the company of a woman the narrator admires, and a bit later the narrator hears the sound of chains rattling which a fisherman says precedes death; the next day a dead body is found. Not bad at all – quite of its time but there’s a lot to appreciate in context.

I don’t have a favourite this month – there are some 5 star reads amongst the above, all but the non-fiction are 4+, and I appreciated various things about every one. It has been a very good reading month all round.

In this last month of the year and decade I’ve a few books to get to that are yet to be started and I hope to finish up a few more; I’m not sure I’ll read as much – Christmas is almost here, after all – but it should be good.

What do you hope to get to in this last month, and what has been your favourite book of the last few weeks?


Freda Mans-Labianca

December 2, 2019, 11:54 am

Wow, you really did have a fantastic month in comparison! I hope it continues into December!


December 2, 2019, 5:04 pm

A very good reading month! I read Rebecca Solnit’s new book of essays recently. Really good.


December 2, 2019, 5:49 pm

You did have a good November! I added a couple of these to my wish list when you posted about them earlier.

November was a great reading month for me, too. May we both have a good December!


December 3, 2019, 7:59 pm

Charlie, it looks like you have been doing a great mixture of reading. My favourite reads of November were the histories of The Golden Antilles by Tim Severin and Margaret Tudor by Melanie Clegg. Happy reading in November! :-)



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