Monday, July 6, 2015

Remarks on Recent Reads

Welcome to Remarks on Recent Reads! Here are mini-reviews of four books that I read in June, and I highly recommend each of these books.

Afternoon of a Good Woman by Nina Bawden (1976). I loved Bawden's story of Penelope, a London magistrate, who has made the decision to leave her husband. As she goes through her day, we see Penelope in her public role in court, but as she hears cases, she's also examining her own life and her decisions and whether she can go through with leaving her husband.

The Other Woman's House by Sophie Hannah (2012). Another gripping psychological thriller by Sophie Hannah. When Connie can't sleep, she goes online and looks at 11 Bentley Grove, a Cambridge house for sale featured on a real estate web site. As she examines the photos of each room, she sees a photo of a woman lying face down in blood in the living room. When she tries to show her husband the photo, it's disappeared. This sets in motion events which bring to a close to the honeymoon of detectives Charlotte "Charlie" Zailer and Simon Waterhouse. The plot is complex and had me guessing until the end. This is the sixth book in the series. I can't remember when I've read a thriller that left me with so many questions after the first chapter.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (2013). What's not to like about this story? Harold Fry receives a letter from Queenie Hennessey, an old friend he hasn't heard from in twenty years. She's in a hospice dying from cancer. Feeling ineffectual and wanting to do something, Harold decides to walk from his home in the south of England to where Queenie is in the north of England at Berwick-on-Tweed, and he has an amazing adventure along the way.

Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys (first published in 1934). Reading this novella, I felt like I was in the territory of Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser with a vulnerable young woman alone in the big city with no money, only Anna Morgan is not so lucky as Carrie. Anna has moved to England from the West Indies. She works as a showgirl, struggling to make ends meet. For awhile, she has a relationship with a rich man who takes care of her. Voyage in the Dark is notable for its modernist style and for Anna's dreamlike flashbacks about her old life which she misses. She identifies strongly with the culture of the island where she grew up and wishes that she could be black. In reading about the book, the story is autobiographical about Rhys' life when she first came to England. The writing in Voyage in the Dark is stark, and the story is bleak, but I had to keep reading.

Have you read any of these books? If so, what are your thoughts? What are you reading this week?


  1. Harold Fry was such a lovely book! I've been considering The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy ever since it came out.

    Voyage in the Dark sounds interesting,too, especially since I read Sister Carrie earlier this year.

  2. I loved Harold Fry and think that The Other Woman's House sounds gripping. I need to read that one.