I loved this book. It was gripping without really anything especially happening. I want to say that it was very atmospheric, but my husband tells me I use that word too much. (It is, though, it is really atmospheric.)
Push on through the initial slightly slow first chapter. If you still don’t like it after Chapter 3 you have my permission to move on to something else.
It also has, hands-down, the most delicious-sounding feast in a book I’ve ever read.
“…. the boy left a tray of beer upon the sideboard. This was followed by a platter of cheese and cold beef marbled with yellow fat, and a plaited white loaf, and a dish of pale butter sprinkled with salt, and lastly a cake studded with cherries and giving off the scent of brandy…”
There is genuinely no moment when I wouldn’t be really pleased to sit down to eat all that.
How about you: read any good books lately?
Karen Nicholson says
Recent top reads include The Nix by Nathan Hill, Moonglow by Michael Chabon, A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin, The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson and The Sea Change by Elizabeth JaneHoward. All delicious.
I haven’t read a real book in a frighteningly long time I blame having too many children in too short a space of time BUT I did just write about some of my favourite things to read on the internet, which are less demanding on my sleep deprived and significantly impaired brain: https://themumandthemom.com/2017/02/27/reading-while-breastfeeding-a-collection/
I will have to revisit your book recommendation posts when I am on my eagerly anticipated no-children-allowed Hawaiian beach holiday (only 2 years from now, approximately)
I really loved this too, favourite read of the year so far, beautiful.
And yes to the food descriptions – I have loved reading about food since the picnic they take on the river in Wind in The Willows (It’s one of the reasons I like reading the restaurant column in the Times mag even though I never eat out. The other reason is it makes me laugh out loud every single week unless Giles is away) Tolstoy also very good for food, if you can be patient between battles.
Golden Hill is quite a good read, but I read it straight after the Essex Serpent didn’t like it as much. The North Water is set on a whaling ship and is quite gripping, but gory as hell and bleak as, well, hell again.
I’m reading Ready Player One at the moment and that’s quite good fun, light sci fi with lots of 80s pop culture references. Not recent but I’ve been reading some old Raymond Chandler when I can’t settle on anything, and the writing is so good, you want to read every line out to whoever is sitting next to you.
I recently read Talking Heads by Alan Bennett, which I think a friend did for English A Level and I picked up twenty years later. However, I’m sure you’ll have read it.
Louise Knight says
I read The Essex Serpent on holiday 2 weeks ago ..and The Lie Tree which was in a similar sort of vein…they both sucked me into the pages and left me feeling I shouldnt be wearing holiday togs but something sternly Victorian…this coupled with overdosing on The Outlander on Netflix quite threw me out sartorially…
Exposure by Helen Dunmore and All The Birds Singing by Evie Wyld – both tight taut thrillers full of ATMOSPHERE.
Also would recommend We Need New Names by Noviolet Bulowayo – brilliant, funny, insightful on Zimbabwe and the experience of US immigration and have really enjoyed Jonathan Coe’s Number 11 – a wry look at the state of the nation – sort of funny and depressing in equal measures.
I was late to The Girls by Emma Cline but thought her ability to get under the skin and inside the head of Evie was masterful.
Currently reading After The Fall by Noah Hawley – not very far in but promising – Martha’s Vineyard, extreme wealth, a plane crash, art, beautiful people etc.
I’m currently reading Holding by Graham Norton and really enjoying it. It’s so gentle and kind, which I now realise must be something I haven’t come across often in books as it’s struck such a chord. I’m not even sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing in literature, but it certainly works for me.
Can I wholeheartedly recommend “Once upon a time in the East: a story of growing up” by Xiaolu Guo. Utterly gripping memoir by a Chinese novelist now living in London, describing her childhood during the Cultural Revolution. Fascinating picture of the damage that family members can inflict upon one another. Her account of the socio-political landscape, detailed through the eyes of a child and then young woman, is exceptional.
Sorry, should also have mentioned Artemis Cooper’s new(ish) biog of Elizabeth Jane Howard called “Dangerous Innocence” – brilliant (just reading about her sex life is enough to make you feel exhausted….and slightly inadequate).
Sadly Im more interested in Netflix these days but my book (booze) club has just read Spectacles by Sue Perkins and its hilarious and I particularly loved the bit about when she brings her new puppy home which I could totally relate to as it is exactly how my husband I behaved with our puppy and still do. She is completely adored and pampered by us and we treat her better than we treat the kids. Its a very happy, funny easy read for those of us feeling a bit challenged Xxx
Recently finished reading Burial Rights by Hannah Kent. It is based on the story of the last woman to be hung in Iceland. Admittedly not the most cheerful of reads, but if it is atmospheric atmosphere you are after then this is hard to beat. I have no idea whether a peasant from 1820s Iceland would think it is an accurate representation of their life but it is so well written it is fabulous to read. Hannah Kent is a young Australian writer so the fact that she has written so well about something so far removed from her own life makes it even more impressive.
Read it Esther, everyone I have recommended it to raved about it.
Just ordered on your recommendation – thanks!
West with the Night by Beryl Markham – what an interesting life!
Hanna Childs says
Life after life by Kate Atkinson
“The Brittle Star’ by Davina Langdale – brilliant, the sort of book you get completely lost in and really resent having to put down.
Camille Bramall says
St Miguel by TC Boyle was the last thing that I read that I really enjoyed. Two families 40 years apart trying to make a life on am isolated island off the coast of California.
Did you read his book The Tortilla Curtain? Will check this one out.
Camille Bramall says
Yes, I have. I’m a fan of most of his work!
If you want atmosphere, you need to read the new book by Hannah Kent called ‘The Good People’ . It’s so good and….atmospheric!
To Kill a Mockingbird for book club, I adore this book and have read it lots of times but it will be interesting to discuss it
Laura McC says
Where’d you go Bernadette, Maria Semple. So funny. Loved it!
Corpus by Rory Clements. When you’re sad it’s nearly the end and you’ll no longer inhibit that world. That.
Excellent spy, murder mystery set in 1936 Cambridge. Fascists, communists, pacifists, men loyal to the King who must abdicate and those who admire Hitler. The American hero is a history don. The first of a series, I’m really looking forward to the next one. I’ve read Rory Clements’ John Shakespeare series which is also excellent.
Eilidh McDonald says
Bedside table pile currently consists of: Paula Yates’ Autobiography (I’ve read this a million times, she’s a really witty writer, and it’s my reliable ‘book as a balm’ when everything else is pretty shitty and I can’t be bothered with the gross effort of thinking), North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. (I just fancy John Thornton really…), and The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell (Snow, Russia, wolves, sentences so perfectly written that they require several re-reads).
Elisabeth Heien says
Oh I LOVE book recommendations! I have just finished the fab Fredrik Backman’s latest novel, “Beartown” which was, unsurprisingly, just fantastic. If you haven’t read his other novels, including “A man called Ove”,which was made into a movie nominated for the Academy Award (sadly, it did not win), you just must do so. Definitely. All his books are miracles! I have also finally devoured (yes!) Anthony Doerr’s “All the light we cannot see”, which I had to read in small portions as it was so utterly gripping and heartbreakingly beautiful and horrible and awesome that I needed to digest each chapter before continuing. Short chapters, so that made it easier. I am starting Joanna Trollope’s latest today, her previous novels have been good if not very complicated reads, perfect now after the massive Beckman/Doerr novels.