Confession time: after spending a year largely reading books intended for pre-teens, I am finding it really, really difficult to concentrate on longer books now. Either that, or I am just not finding the right books these days despite constantly trying different ones. This is something I hope to rectify this year, as I am generally a very avid reader and enjoy it very much. But it’s also not something I really want to force, since I would like it to remain a source of pleasant entertainment and not a chore!
That being said, I did manage to find a few books in January that I was able to read from cover to cover. First up was The Push, by Ashley Audrain. The book tells the story of the Connor family. Narrated by wife and mother Blythe, the story is told in bits and pieces as though she is speaking to her husband who, you learn in the first few pages, is living with his new wife and their children. You learn quickly though that the daughter is actually Blythe’s daughter and that they have never had a strong connection. Blythe believes her daughter to be evil, basically, and much of the book is her struggle to get other people to understand that as well. There’s a lot of layers going on here. Blythe is, for all intents and purposes, a terrible mother, but there is also way more than meets the eye going on with Violet.
This was a good one. Fairly predictable, but with an unreliable narrator, you can never be too sure until you get to the end. This was a strange book in that I didn’t like any of the characters, not even the narrator, but I still really, really enjoyed the story. I was eager to keep reading and wanted to see where it would all end up, even though I had it worked out from pretty early on. This is the best type of book, I think – I love figuring out the mysteries, and I especially love it when the story is compelling enough to keep me reading even though I’m convinced I’m correct!
The Wife Upstairs, by Rachel Hawkins is a play on Jane Eyre. I appreciate a good classic retelling, but I didn’t really enjoy this one too much. Jane Eyre is a hard concept to update for modern day. Rather than England, the setting is moved to Birmingham, Alabama and Jane (the main character’s assumed name) is a dog walker in an affluent neighborhood where she meets, and ultimately moves in with, Eddie Rochester. Eddie is a widow, his wife Bea having died in a boat accident prior to the books events. However, even in her death, Bea’s legacy haunts Jane.
This one also featured a narrator and a cast of characters I didn’t really care for all that much, but in this case it took away from the experience for me. I found myself getting impatient with them, and being aware of the secret (if you’ve read Jane Eyre, the fact that the supposedly dead wife is in the attic should not surprise you). I just wasn’t invested in anyone’s story with this one, and didn’t really care where they ended up in the end. Lest that all sound super harsh, I will say that there is always an element of fun to the classic retellings as you go along trying to see the parallels to the original material, so I did have fun doing that!
To meet my goal of fifty books by the end of the year, I need to read approximately 4 books each month (give or take, it’s not an exact calculation), so this puts me a tad behind but with no BSC books in my future, perhaps I’ll read a bit faster! But we all know it comes down to reading… or sewing? So far, based on this week, it seems that sewing is edging out reading just a bit so far this year.