March Reading Wrap-up

I’ve been so focused on reaching my reading goals these past few months that I have completely neglected blogging. So, in an attempt to catch up… here’s my reading wrap-up from March!

Books read in March: 8 // Total books read in 2018 so far (as of the end of March): 28

Favorite book from March: Maggie O’Farrell’s I Am, I Am, I Am

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith (⭐⭐⭐)
In Smith’s The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, three narratives are woven together to create a story that revolves around a painting, a landscape by Sara de Vos, a Dutch artist living in the 1600’s. The thread of de Vos’ art and life is interlaced with that of a man living in 1950’s Manhattan who has the painting hanging on his wall, and that of a young Australian forger living in Manhattan hired to replicate de Vos’ masterpiece. While the novel is rich in detail and description, the plot never fully captured my attention.

Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton (⭐⭐⭐)
I picked up Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Bones & Butter prior to my trip to New York and visit to her restaurant, Prune, in March. Once a foodie hot spot, Prune is now a New York mainstay with overpriced dishes that are simply fine. Hamilton’s memoir about discovering her love of food and becoming a chef made my mouth water various times, but the narrative verged on tiresome when she repeatedly divulged details of her painfully awkward marriage to the father of her children, a man she seemingly fell into a relationship with and didn’t love.

White Houses by Amy Bloom (⭐⭐⭐)
White Houses frames the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter-turned-friend and lover Lorena “Hick” Hickok with tenderness and insight. It’s an intimate portrait of two women looking for love and companionship, both in sync and at odds with the marriage between Franklin Roosevelt and his first lady, Eleanor. Throughout, we are offered a peripheral view, removed; we gaze in as if from a window, separate from the story and the characters. I was left wanting more.

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
In Maggie O’Farrell’s memoir I Am, I Am, I Am, the author offers up haunting glimpses of near-death experiences that have shaped the trajectory of her life. In prose that is as beautiful as it is raw, she exposes a dangerous encounter on a secluded path, instances of nearly drowning, complicated childbirth, heartbreaking miscarriage, and more. These seventeen “brushes with death” leave the reader thankful for every breath, every moment of being alive.

Winter Kept Us Warm by Anne Raeff (⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Winter Kept Us Warm, Raeff’s novel about family, war, desire, parenthood, and independence, follows three characters, Ulli, Isaac, and Leo from the moment they meet in post-war Berlin through the rest of their lives as their paths intersect and diverge again and again. While I wasn’t wowed by this book, there are nice bits of writing throughout and Raeff is a skillful storyteller.

Back Talk by Danielle Lazarin (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
I picked up Danielle Lazarin’s Back Talk off the front table at McNally Jackson in New York, and I’m glad I did. Lazarin’s stories, which are refreshingly satisfying and smart, revolve mostly around middle-class white women in NYC in the process of wanting, desiring, becoming. A lovely, well-written collection.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
While the cover of Matt Haig’s How to Stop Time did nothing to sell me on the book, the blurbs did. “Marvelous,” said Deborah Harkness. Jeanette Winterson: “Matt Haig uses words like a tin-opener. We are the tin.” Tom Hazard is a man who ages slowly, his body and his face hardly change year after year allowing him to live for centuries. Not aging soon becomes problematic as peers and love interests change and mature; those around Tom start to take notice. The plot is far-fetched, with Hazard placed at the right (or wrong) places at various points in history, and the end felt a bit messy, but the book is an entertaining page-turner that will keep you engaged and reading until the very last page.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Home Fire, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2017, and my book club’s pick for March, is a modern telling of Sophocles’ play Antigone. Shamsie’s story follows three British Muslim siblings as they encounter prejudice and extremism in Britain, and explores how they negotiate family, politics, betrayal, and matters of the heart. I wanted to love this book but sadly found the characters bland and the writing mediocre. Though that cover is GORGEOUS.

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