My month in books

Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont

No matter what’s happening in your life, or the world, you can always turn to a good book for comfort or inspiration. 

Here’s everything I’ve read over the last month…

Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor. This was a wonderful read. Once upon a time, genteel old people used to go and live in hotels when they lacked the enthusiasm or funds for their own home. Mrs Palfrey finds herself in this situation, and chooses the Claremont Hotel in London. What follows is a beautifully written story of the petty politics and curiosity of the hotel’s fellow residents, her relationship with her disappointing family and the unexpected friendship she makes with Ludo, a young writer. Taylor’s writing is so effortlessly good. The words glide across the page while still packing a smart punch that really sticks with you. Read it, you won’t regret it.

The State We’re In, by Adele Parks. Jo and Dean meet on a transatlantic flight and it’s love at first sight. Well, sort of. This is a girl meets boy tale with a difference. They’ve got a surprising connection, they just don’t know it yet. We watch Jo and Dean make their way through the tangled web of their lives, finding both joy and tragedy along the way. This well-written and clever read is perfect January escapism.

Wise Children, by Angela Carter. A sharp and witty read. It reminds me a little of Mary Wesley, but with more surrealism. It’s the story of the Chance Sisters, the illegitimate children of one of England’s finest thespian actors. We’re taken on a wonderful romp through the theatres and film studios of the twentieth century. The story hops backwards and forward through time as nimbly as Dora and Nora dancing their way across the stage. I couldn’t put this down.

Almost English, by Charlotte Mendleson. Marina lives with her English mother Laura and her elderly Hungarian relations in a little flat in London. Like most sixteen year olds, she feels like an outsider. These feelings are only compounded by her eccentric home life. She makes the bold, and ultimately, misguided decision to apply to a stuffy English boarding school. Her mother is too distracted by her own worries to notice the slow unraveling of her daughter’s life. I really wanted to love this book, but there was always something missing for me. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but it’s probably because I felt no affection for any of the characters. I finished it, but grudgingly.

This Year It Will Be Different, by Maeve Binchey. I picked up this book of short stories in the charity shop because I liked the festive snowy picture on the front cover. I normally love Maeve Binchey, and thought these stories would see me though the busy run up to Christmas. I’m sorry to say that they were very dated, and not in a good way. Some things age well and I’m afraid these stories really haven’t. Sorry, Maeve – I’ll always love your other books, but not this one.

My Thoughts Exactly, Lily Allen. I read this on a whim on my kindle. Mostly out of curiosity. Lily is about the same age as me, but our lives couldn’t be more different. I’ve read all the articles about her over the years, and wanted to hear her side. Lily is a self-confessed narcissist. And it really shows. She writes well, but the whole thing is horribly self-absorbed. It made my skin crawl at times. I made it though to the end with gritted teeth.

What have you enjoyed reading this month?

Wise Children by Angela Carter




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