February has been a pretty chaotic month for me, so steady progress in my reading had been pretty much gone until tonight. I have been restless and flitting between a bunch of books that are good, but a little too real or too down for the mood that I have been in. The last couple of weeks, I have not wanted to deal in anything too close to reality. True to the name of the blog, I have been looking for some comfort and security in my reading.
I just took a look at the four books that I have managed to finish this month and without exception they have been fantastical in nature. I started off the month finishing up the fantastic A Discovery of Witches: A Novel, by Deborah Harkness, and have since finished Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale, by Carolyn Turgeon, Dark Mirror: A Novel, by M.J. Putney and Christian Lacroix and the Tale of Sleeping Beauty: A Fashion Fairy Tale Memoir, by Camilla Morton. I found Mermaid to be the heaviest of the bunch. Anyone who has read The Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Anderson, or indeed many of his fairytales, know that he doesn’t mess around.
After reading A Discovery of Witches, I was in the mood for another such savory read, preferably one that included witches, vampires or both. Alma Katsu offered to send me an advance copy of her historical fiction/paranormal novel The Taker: A Novel, and much to my delight it arrived today. UK readers only have to wait until April 14th for this book to make it into stores, but us Americans are not so lucky. It’s out here July 11.
Some books should come with a warning label that you should open them unless you want to risk pissing off family members (when you can’t put the book down) or sleep deprivation (again, because you can’t put the books down). I have already whizzed through 90 pages. Right away I was drawn to the lush descriptions of harsh Maine winters, Luke Findley’s dismal life as a country doctor and Lanny’s heartbreaking story. I love history and there is a lot here on the Puritans circa the 19th century. I’m sure that as I finish this post, I will be back into my book.
Another fascinating read that I have in the works is Last American Man, by Elizabeth Gilbert. She has such a clear, relatable and compelling way of storytelling. It was partially due to those qualities in her writing that Eat, Pray, Love was such a resounding success. Eustace Conway’s upbringing and commitment to nature is like none that I have heard. The things that this man is able to accomplish living completely off the land is an astounding feat, but some of the personal demons driving his accomplishments and evangelical nature regarding the environment makes for a read that for me requires some pacing.
Rounding out my list are Certain Women, by Madeleine L’Engle (did you know that she wrote for adults?) and The Last Brother, by Nathacha Appanah. I am having a very hard time with L’Engle’s book. I’m not fond of the character the story revolves around, and I find a lot of the writing to be flat. It’s been quite the struggle to read. I have heard good things about The Last Brother, but I have also been warned that it is a heart breaker, so I am preparing myself for that!