Happy Wednesday! I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start. Ours has been moving forward with a few hitches. Yesterday Bronwyn and I were feeling under the weather and spent most of the afternoon on the couch watching Marvel movies. I’m feeling much better this morning and hope that Bronwyn wakes up the same way. But despite a busy Easter weekend and yesterday’s strange illness, I managed to keep a stack of books nearby and kept my brain busy with some wonderful stories. I can’t wait to chat about them with you!
Books I Finished This Week:
I picked up Trespasses because it’s on the Women’s Prize longlist. It’s set in Ireland during The Troubles, probably in the 70s? Cushla is a Catholic who’s family owns a bar and they have to carefully toe the line to keep their Protestant customers happy. When she falls in love with a married and much older Protestant man, things become even more complicated.
I’ve read several books about The Troubles in the last few years and always learn a little more about life in Ireland because of it. I especially appreciated how this one showed how complicated life could be for Catholics who were surrounded by a greater number of Protestants. And I liked Cushla a lot — she was such an interesting character. 4 stars.
I finally finished Tomb of Sand! I have to say that I wasn’t wild about this one and had no idea what was going on most of the time. But it won last year’s International Booker and I wanted to finish it before I got started on a few of the most interesting titles (to me) on this year’s longlist. This is about Ma – an Indian matriarch who fell into a deep depression after her husband died. It took her the first 200 or so pages to even get out of bed!
The ending was very clever and moving, so I am happy that I stuck it out. I found myself reading, rereading, and moving very slowly through the closing chapters to make sure I was following what was happening. And even now? I’m not so sure I fully understand it? Other readers have raved about the word play and humor in this one, but it was all over my head. Maybe it will be a better fit for you?
I absolutely could not put Wandering Souls down. Also on this year’s Women’s Prize Longlist, this tells the story of a Vietnamese family in the late 70s. Teenage Anh and her two younger brothers are given passage on a ship to Hong Kong, with her four younger siblings and parents expecting to follow in the next couple of weeks. We then follow Anh through quarantine and life in a refugee camp in Hong Kong, to a resettlement center outside of London in Thatcher’s isolationist and racist UK, to finally making a home in London. This story showed us the tragedies that so many of the Vietnamese Boat People experienced — and it also showed us the hope and resilience that comes with being human.
This was written in the most beautiful and compelling way. I was moved by Anh and all she did to care for her younger brothers while she was only a child herself. I hope this book makes the shortlist!
I waited a very long time on the waitlist for Women Talking and it was totally worth it! This was my first experience with this author and was left floored – are all of her novels so smart, thoughtful, and playful with words? Because if they are, then I may have found another favorite writer.
This book is set in a Mennonite community in which women and girls were being drugged in their sleep by men and boys and being raped. They all thought they were having nightmares until one of the young women became pregnant by her attacker. This book is essentially the minutes taken from their meetings at which they were trying to decide what to do: to stay with their men or to leave. Women Talking brilliantly explored the complicated decisions that women face while deciding whether to stay in abusive relationships. It was smart and funny, while being full of logic and philosophy. I listened on audio but wished over and over that I had a paper copy to mark up and make my own.
For any Miriam Toews fans: which novel should I reach for next?
Bryce and I finished rereading the third epic Captain Underpants novel: The Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies From Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds). This is at least the fifth time we’ve read this and the second time this year! I’ll spare you the plot. We’re deep into the fifth novel now, so I’ll update you on our progress next week!
And now I’m reading Black Butterflies and Stone Blind and loving every minute of both. Once I finish those two, I’ll be turning my attention toward the small stack of International Booker Prize books that I found the most interesting.
ALSO: did you see that The Book of Goose won this year’s Tournament of Books??! It was an exciting tournament and I was so happy to see this one come out on top! This book was full of little nuggets of truth that had me nodding my head and cheering Agnés on through her whole journey.
I’m planning (hoping) to be back on Friday with a little stitching update and a few things bringing me joy over the last couple of weeks. Until then – take good care!
Your reading prowess just amazes me and I really appreciate your reviews and recommendations. Anything about Ireland always sounds good to me! And Women Talking is also a movie (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt13669038/) and was at Red River for about 3 days (I missed it). Hope everyone in your world feels good today. Onward!
I haven’t seen Women Talking yet but the movie version looks so good! Thank you for the reminder!
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Oh my goodness!! So many great selections. I am making a list and every time I read your posts my list grows lol. Thank you so much for all the recommendations. Glad you are feeling better today.
Thanks, Lisa! I hope your enjoying whatever you’re reading lately!
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I finished Stone Blind yesterday (loved! Haynes writes about gods and mortals with so much insight and humor ) and started Wandering Souls this morning… whoa. I’m just a few chapters in (the kids are settled into the Hong Kong camp) and I can tell it’s going to be another favorite. Feel better!!
I hope you enjoyed Wandering Souls! And I totally agree about Stone Blind – it was so much fun!
As Jordan noted, Women Talking is a movie and is available on Amazon Prime. Clif and I watched it and thought it was compelling. It feels more like a play than a movie, but that didn’t bother me at all. Wandering Souls is such a wonderful title, and your review makes me want to read it. I just requested it through our interlibrary loan system.
I hadn’t realized Women Talking had already made it to Prime – thank you! I hope you love Wandering Souls once it finds its way to you 🙂
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My suggestion for your next Toews book is Night Fight… I just finished it and it was so, so, so good!
Great reading, as always! (Trespasses is the next Read With Us Book… I am moving up on the waitlist!)
Thank you for this recommendation! I am hoping all of Toews’ books are this wonderful 🙂 I hope you get Trespasses soon!
What great reading you’ve done in the past week! I think I may have to order a copy of Wandering Souls. I may very well end up reading the entire longlist even though I said I wasn’t going to — but reading great books by women authors is so enjoyable!
(I can’t remember — did you read Glory?)
I’m thinking Trespasses might be an option for next year’s Reading Ireland Month event. I’ve seen some very good reviews. Who knows, I may get to it before then! 😉
Trespasses is a GREAT option for Reading Ireland Month! or for any time! I loved the main character, Cushla. She was so fun to get to know!
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Trespasses is on my ereader right now; I have to get to it today!
And I saw on your blog that you were able to get to Trespasses and that you enjoyed it. I am so happy!!