A Month in Books: May

Despite the fact that it feels like I’ve been living at work this month, I managed to read about a book a week this month-including my most anticipated release of the year.

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (2010, Phoenix)
I’ve owned this copy of The Tiger’s Wife since it won the Orange Prize in 2011, so it was good to finally read it this month. I’m really glad I did too. The Tiger’s Wife follows Natalia, as she travels to deliver healthcare to children in the wake of the Balkan war and the death of her grandfather. The novel also ties in the tales of the Tiger’s Wife and the Undead Man, fables or fantastical stories that her grandfather lived through. If you like Carlos Ruiz Zafon, who is a favourite of mine, you will definitely like this, as it has a really similar gothic/fantasy/historical tone.

May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes (2012, Granta)
Another Orange Prize winner that has been sat on my Kindle, I was pretty optimistic about reading May We Be Forgiven. However, this was one of the cases where I felt like I just missed…something. The novel focuses on Harry, who after a violent tragedy, is forced to take care of his more successful brother’s family. It has promising moments, especially in terms of characterisation of the teenagers who felt very ‘real’, but it’s slide into surrealism completely lost me. And I’m very upset that it beat Life After Life to the crown, speaking of which…

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (2015, Doubleday)
I was so excited to get my hands on this novel. A God in Ruins is the companion novel to Life After Life, following Ursula’s (that novel’s protagonist) younger brother Teddy. The novel follows both his life and that of his family’s, in particular his daughter Viola and her son Sonny as they live both remarkably unremarkable and remarkable lives. As with Life After Life, Atkinson’s war writing in A God in Ruins during the time in which Teddy flies Halifax bombers is incredibly moving. All her characters, even those who appear for just pages, are vividly created and it is easy to gain an attachment to them (well, almost all of them). This novel made me laugh and cry, and were it not for the ending it would probably be my top book of the year. I still very much recommend it.

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (1993, Fourth Estate)
My first Eugenides experience was The Marriage Plot, which I didn’t love. But everyone raves about The Virgin Suicides, and I’ve wanted to watch the film adaptation for years so when I was looking for something to read on the train after I forgot to pack a book this made the cut. It’s told from the perspective of men, looking back at a time when they were teenagers when the Lisbon sisters all committed suicide, and trying to understand what pushed them to do so. The central notion of the book is one that has been discussed frequently-how well can we really know those we claim to. However The Virgin Suicides looks as this in a far more unsettling way, and is frequently an uncomfortable experience to read the obsession of a group of boys with some girls who were enduring hardship but whom no one seemed to want to help. I am definitely keen to watch the film, which seems to really capture the ethereal tone of the writing; and I’d like to tackle Middlesex as well.

So, this was a pretty good reading month for me! Only one disappointment. Did you read any good books this month? Also, if you’ve read A God in Ruins-please tell me how you feel about the ending!


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