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Christmas Reading Reviews

Over my Christmas holiday (14 blissful days off although a while ago now!) I read quite a few books and I thought I’d share my thoughts on them with you now in a big collective review.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

As you may already know, I’m a bit fan of Gilbert’s style in books like Committed and The First American Man, but this was the first novel of hers that I had read. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was immaculately researched. I can’t say botanics and mosses in particular is something that particular interests me, but Gilbert manages to enthuse me almost against my will! I particularly admired two things about this books; the descriptions of the dinner table discussions and the exploration of the tragic misunderstandings and miscommunications between the heroine, Alma and her sister. The ending is also brilliant, but I won’t say anymore about that in case I spoil it! This is not a perfect book. Aspects of it made me cringe slightly, such as the relationship between Alma and her husband; it felt flawed and false somehow. However, it is an interesting and enjoyable read. It is also one of the most original novels of 2013 because of the research, the spotlight on a female scientist and the many themes it explores. I would definitely recommend you give it a go!

The Emily of New Moon trilogy by L.M Montgomery

The Anne of Green Gables series was one of my favourite childhood books. I’m not quite sure how the Emily of New Moon series passed me by when I was smaller, but it did. I put that right this Christmas as I read all three books back to back. It was charming, but it didn’t quite hold the same magic Anne did for me. I’m not quite sure why, because in some ways this series is more accomplished and was the author’s favourite. Perhaps it was just because some of the characters felt like pale copies of my favourites, Marilla, Matthew, Diana and Anne herself.  I also found Emily’s involvement with the much older ‘Jarback’ Priest uncomfortable and some of the attitudes to women felt less progressive than in Anne somehow. All that said though, it was still lovely and no fan of Anne should miss it.

Mary Berry, The Autobiography: Recipe for Life

Mary Berry, Recipe for Life

Mary Berry, Recipe for Life

Oh how I love Mary Berry! Elegant, kind, successful, inspiring and her recipes never fail! This is her autobiography, but it also peppered with her favourite recipes which is perfect. I don’t read autobiographies that much but when I do, I usually really enjoy the insight into someone else’s life. Mary has led a fascinating one. This was a joy to read and I enjoyed getting to know her better. This was probably my favourite book I read over Christmas.

Stoner by John Williams

This book intrigued me. Quite slight and forgotten in the author’s life time, it is now enjoying a renaissance thanks to Ian McEwan’s patronage. It is exceedingly well-written and an accomplished meditation on a disappointed life. In some ways, it was a sad read, but I took hope from the fact that Stoner, despite his failed marriage and career, did once experience true love and intellectual inspiration. I am glad I have read Stoner; it certainly makes you think, but whether I would recommend it to friends?…I am unsure.

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Christmas Reading List

I am looking forward to a glorious two whole weeks off over Christmas this year, the first half near London with my in-laws and the second half with my family in Yorkshire. One of the things I’ve been enjoying recently is the building of, and the anticipation of, my Christmas reading list. I fully intend on spending as many hours as I can get away with cuddled up with my books!

Here is what I’m taking with me:

1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt and the Goldfinch book cover

Courtesy of bbc.co.uk

A current sensation. I loved The Secret History, am currently reading The Little Friend and so it seemed rude not to take this with me for Christmas.

2. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Signature of all things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I was going to wait for this to come out in paperback, but I cracked!

3. Stoner by John Williams

Stoner by John Williams

I saw this in Covent Garden Waterstone’s this afternoon whilst browsing on my lunch break and was intrigued. I haven’t heard much about it, but on returning to my desk, I googled it and much praise appeared…I’m even more intrigued!  (Here is one of the articles I read)

4. The Emily of New Moon series by L.M Montgomery

Emily of New Moon

Continuing my recent trip down memory lane, I’m taking a children’s series with me. Somehow, I missed Emily of New Moon whilst I was growing up, but I’m very excited to get acquainted with her soon.

What are you reading this Christmas?