Urgh. So, I had to have my ailing MacBook’s hard drive replaced, so this probably isn’t entirely accurate in its detail. Still, to the best of my abilities, what I read in July.
Author: Curtis Sittenfeld
Recommended by: no one. I’ve been hooked on Sittenfeld’s stuff since I first read Prep about a squillion years ago at uni. American Wife, her third novel is one of my favourites and I’ve been waiting for years for this book. I even broke my ‘buy no hardbacks’ rule to have this as soon as it came out. Ordered from Amazon.
Read: 24 June – some point in mid July that I can’t remember. Took a while as I only read it in bed.
It’s no American Wife (but then, what could be?) but this is a solid contribution to the bookshelves chez Blonde. It’s very much in the Sittenfeld “examination of family and self and relationships” vein, so anyone hoping this is going to major on the main characters’ psychic abilities will be disappointed. It’s ultimately a saga of twin sisterhood. It’s great.
Author: Nora Ephron
Recommended by: no one. Since reading Heartburn I’ve been steadily making my way through her back catalogue. Purchased on a whim from the Charing Cross Foyles.
Read: At some point in July. I can’t remember the dates but it didn’t take long.
This one’s a collection of her early essays from the 60s and 70s, but the writing is no less relevant because of the time that’s passed. There’s a great piece on the woman who founded Cosmo, and the content she decided to put in it, and one on the New York food scene that could have been written last week, not 1968. I didn’t find it quite as gripping as her other stuff that I’ve read, but still a very worthwhile read.
Author: AM Homes
Recommended by: pretty much everyone, then she won the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and then the London Book Club chose it as the book for July. Bought from the Charing Cross Foyles.
Read: For most of July. It took me far longer than I was expecting.
This is definitely worth reading. Any book which opens with a guy having an affair with his brother’s wife, who then goes on to witness the murder of said wife by said brother is going to grab you. The writing is brilliant and relentless, and the plot is brilliantly imaginative: this is a family saga like (thank heavens) no family that I recognise. All that said, I found it really, really hard work until about two-thirds of the way through and only really enjoyed it towards the end. One to read, but not at the top of the list.
Score: A conflicted 8ish. Sometimes 6. Sometimes 9.
Author: J Courtney Sullivan
Recommended by: most of the summer’s recommended reading lists. Sent to me by the lovely Emily at Virago, the publisher.
Read: 21 July – 3 August
I don’t think I ever acknowledged just how large the impact of advertising has been on the ‘tradition’ of using diamonds for engagement rings. This book tells the story of Frances Gerety, a copywriter at an ad agency who coined the term “A Diamond is Forever” for De Beers in the 1940s, as well as several other women through the history of one diamond engagement ring. It’s very enjoyable, and Sullivan clearly did oodles of research for it (although this occasionally distracts from the story). I found a couple of the storylines less compelling than others, and wonder if fewer stories and more time to tell them would have worked better. Still, a lovely holiday read – even if you do spend a week humming Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend every waking minute.