We begin this month with the French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles.
I have never done this before, but whatever, it’s hot and its Sunday so I googled “books similar to… ” it’s a thing right? For when people want to read a book similar to the one they already like?
I was surprised. The book at the top of this particular Goodreads list is Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children. Is that surprising to anyone else or is it just me? The first time I read Stead’s book I hated it. I wanted the characters to all to die in an explosion so I did not have to read any further. The second time I read it I realised it was marvellous.
A man who loved children in a less endearing way is
Humbert Humbert narrator of Vladimir Nabakov’s notorious book Lolita. The opening lines of this book are beautiful.
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee
Another opening line that made me gasp and clutch my nightie is this:
It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.
Which is of course, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar
There are lots of terrible bells in my current reread, Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I have chosen this book for my book club to read this year mainly because most of them don’t like ‘fantasy’ novels and I am determined they should like this book. I won’t have a bad word said about it!
“Can a magician kill a man by magic?” Lord Wellington asked
Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. “I suppose a magician might,” he admitted, “but a gentleman never could.”
JK Rowling has made a lot of money out of books about magic but I get the impression she is still a nice person. I spent the lead up to Christmas and beyond listening to Stephen Fry read all the Harry Potter books. It’s curious. They are not well written. The words don’t sing. But she knows how to tell a story. There is not a wasted event or plot point in those books. I can still pull a worthwhile
I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed — or worse, expelled. …
One of my favourite characters in the Harry Potter books is Snape because I love a redemption story. Especially when the character has black hair. Does Rochester have black hair? I don’t care. I think of him with black hair when I think of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
What is this fascination with dark moody men? Surely there is a nice hero I can appreciate? Oh, I do like Raymond the unhygienic IT guy from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. He’s a real sweetie.