March was full of really chewy subject matter in my reading. I'd been after a copy of The Five for a long time but I have an aversion to hardbacks (they're too heavy to read in the bath!), so had to wait a whole year for the paperback version. Totally worth the wait. Utterly brilliant: soundly researched, compellingly told. I finished the book both heartbroken for those poor women and furious that their story has been so manipulated by those with a ghoulish and/or financial interest in Ripper mythology.
Continued the feminist theme with Difficult Women. A disclaimer: Helen Lewis grew up in my city and I wanted her to come give a talk at the museum (oh happy days of event planning before the virus!), so I broke my No Hardback rule for her. So damn glad I did. She thoroughly rejects the idea that difficult women should be airbrushed out of history: their achievements should be celebrated with a full and comprehensive understanding of their characters As A WHOLE, not simplified to anodyne goodness. Real women, interesting women, are complicated and yes, dammit, difficult.
Then to complete the trio, a rereading of Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson. Read it years ago and, because she grew up not far from where my Nan did, I can hear her mother in my head. Luckily I get to close the book and not have years of psychotherapy afterward. Astonishing what a person can achieve despite their upbringing.
Wilding was a gorgeous evocation of what can be done to bring back the biodiversity and truly green spaces we need (freely admit to skipping the bits that got too science-y). A Murder of Quality practically flung itself off the shelf at me as the virus began to bite outside and I needed something well written, read before and short to distract me. Le Carre is always good.
Beatlebone. Hmm. I brought the boyfriend this as he has a massive Beatles obsession. That shouldn't mean I have to read it too but apparently, according to relationship rules, I do (these rules also apply in reverse, so he's currently reading Wilding). Anyway. I did not care for Beatlebone. I did not care for the characters. I did not care about the ending. It will not do. Here endeth my foray into fiction that "takes you to the very edge of the novel form."
And finally, Calypso. Oh David Sedaris, why are you not my strange uncle? Hilarious and moving. And a relief to find someone so open about his own unsympathetic, borderline unpleasant, personality traits. If you think he's brutal about others, you should hear him talk about himself. And the nonsense the world thrives on.
Disclaimer: all of the links I've provided are to the Hive website which supports independent bookshops by giving the one you nominate a percentage of the sale. For goodness sake, let's kick Amazon to the damn curb, shall we? I like proper bookshops: they make towns and cities look nice, and they pay their taxes properly.
And here enedth my lesson. What are you all reading? Or has your concentration, like a good friend of mine's, been completely shot, so you can't. If you can, what genres are you escaping into?