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Reading Life: 9th September 2019

A photograph of the view over London from Primrose Hill

At about 1/3 of the way through This Must Be The Place, I’m finding it a lot of work, mentally, but still enjoying it; it changed rapidly with the introduction of new subplots which O’Farrell is exploring concurrently and via various characters. A lot of it has to do with different periods of time and ‘clues’. Aside from the requirement to keep up, the book is satisfying in its complexity. The various voices are intriguing, with characters from different places; O’Farrell’s staying in tune with the dialects.

Conversations With Friends, begun very belatedly (it won the Young Writer of the Year Award in 2017), is going well. It’s not caught my interest quite as much as the O’Farrell simply because the plot is more simple and the book overall more usual, more of what I’ve read before. It’s also not due back at the library in a few weeks, like the O’Farrell. The conversation in it is definitely the best part, at least for now. The narrator is an interesting choice – the character who is the most open, most talkative when it comes to others, less likely to hide things, and more reliable simply due to the seeming honesty in her words and obviousness in her actions.

I’m in an accidental Irish author phase.

Somewhat in tandem with my trip to Virginia Woolf’s house last week, I’m going to be making my fourth attempt to read Mrs Dalloway. The book and Woolf’s life has been continually on my mind since last summer – I’d been wanting to visit Monk’s House for a year – and so I’ve decided there’s no time like the present. The catalyst for my actually going ahead is in fact my trip – a big reason why I struggled with the book is that I couldn’t work out how old Clarissa is meant to be; I thought she was middle-aged at least, but researching other reader’s opinions suggested she’s a lot younger. Well, whether it’s still one person’s opinion or one born of more extensive research I found the answer I needed in Leonard’s garage – the National Trust’s handwritten note of recommendation for Mrs Dalloway says she’s 52. Again, whether or not that’s right and whether or not I’ll find difficulties moving forward I don’t know but it’s enough to make a start. I’m taking having seen it there as a sign.

Have you read any books by Maggie O’Farrell or one of Sally Rooney’s two? What did you think of it/them?


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