February 2017 Reading Round-Up

February might be the shortest month, but my reading rate has been ridiculously low: only 8 books, one of which I didn’t finish. I am clearly spending far too much time reading all the absurd but absorbing news stories! I also have to admit that the first few books I read were not terribly riveting (they are not necessarily in the order below, for the sake of discretion), which made me reluctant to pick them up. As for reviewing… well, you can see just how badly that went.

Crime/Thriller:

dollfuneralKate Hamer: The Doll Funeral

I really wanted to like this one, as I think Kate Hamer is a very talented writer, but on this occasion the beautiful prose could not save the confusion of timelines and strange juxtaposition of supernatural elements. The author takes us into a strange land at the borders of make-believe and reality. There is something of the nature of a fable about this tale, set in ancestral woods, with quite appalling examples of parenting (like the step-parents out of Grimm), children running wild but not in a Lord of the Flies way. Not enough suspense for me to describe it as a thriller.

clearairMechtild Borrmann: To Clear the Air (transl. Aubrey Botsford)

Mrs. Peabody and other bloggers whom I trust have praised this author, but her debut novel did not wow me, although the hypocrisy and claustrophobia of small-town Germany is well described. I liked the investigative team and the interactions between the different members, but the prose and plot felt a little clunky at times. Nothing to make it stand out in my mind.

Claire MacLeary: Cross Purpose

Chris Lloyd: City of Drowned Souls – to be reviewed on CFL

Other:

janet-frameJanet Frame: An Angel at My Table – the complete autobiography – DNF

I found this in the entrails of the library reserves, when I was searching for her novel Faces in the Water. Although her life (and, in particular, her time spent at asylums in New Zealand) was sad and compelling, the very slow and detailed autobiography, which contained little about her most difficult period, was dull as ditchwater. I abandoned about halfway through and will try to find her fiction in future.

#EU27Project:

Ricarda Huch: The Last Summer (transl. Jamie Bulloch)

Herman Koch: The Dinner (transl. Sam Garrett) – Netherlands – review to come

No Men, No Cry – Lithuanian women authors’ collective – review to come

6 out of 8 were women writers, half were books in translation. Undoubtedly, the book of the month was Ricarda Huch’s short but powerful novella about the seductive power of ideology.