I finally finished reading The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing! It took me a little over three weeks, which must be something of a record for me by itself. When combined with the fact that I had a major book hangover after reading East of Eden, it meant that my reading in February REALLY suffered. I read two books and about a 100 pages of The Golden Notebook.
However, in March, I met Jeffrey Archer at a signing and bought his latest Clifton Chronicles book, Mightier than the Sword. I really didn’t enjoy the 4th installment to this series but I faithfully bought the newest installment. I also bought ANOTHER copy of Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less and got it signed because it’s my favourite book by him. I’ve always wondered, is it an insult or a compliment to a prolific author if their first book remains your favourite? What do you guys think?
Anyway, after getting Mightier than the Sword that day, I broke my rule about not reading any other books until I finished The Golden Notebook and read it. Jeffrey Archer books have never taken me long to read, and I finsihed it off that day. I must say, this is probably my favourite book in the series after the first one. Looks like the man is making a comeback! I’m glad. He was perfectly adorable at his book signing, being all blustering and British. I really do like his books, even though they aren’t “literary” or whatever.
Well, this book, which had a bit of a writing and freedom of speech and expression type theme, seemed to really inspire me to read a lot really fast. REALLY fast. The very next day, I managed to read the remaining 300 odd pages I still had left of The Golden Notebook, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book too, making the long read pretty worth it, to be honest.
Over the next week, (I finished the Golden Notebook on a Sunday.) I have absurdly read 4 more books, which is twice what I read all of February!
Granted, all of the books were only around 350 to 400 pages long, and two of them were romance novels, but I am still quite alarmed at myself. I really really enjoyed two of the four books I read, and one of them, Vanessa and her Sister, by Priya Parmar, is officially one of my favourite books of all time.
I can just feel a happy buzzing in my head as I think of the Bloomsbury Group and their goings-on which are captured so well in this book, and it just hit me that, as difficult as it is to make up characters from scratch, it is far more difficult to write a novel about persons who existed. This book is very much a novel, and it is written mainly in the form of Vanessa Bell’s (the titular protagonist) journal entries mixed with assorted communication between the Boomsbury Group. I loved the atmosphere of intellectual stimulation and sexual liberation that pervaded throughout the book. I so badly wanted to be one of them and to attend just one dinner at the Stephen household and just LISTEN.
In a way, the friendships between the people reminded me of my friendships in college, where I met more people like me, than I have met in my entire life. I adore our conversations and our time here, and the fact that I will be losing all of that in less than a month made the book all the more poignant and more enjoyable to me.
I also loved the beautiful way in which the complicated relationships in this book are depicted. (No spoilers.) I just… well done, Ms. Parmar! I cannot wait to read her debut novel, and anything else she may ever write, as I told her on Instagram. She actually responded to me, by the way, which was the nicest thing ever!
This book also made me realise that I really need to read E.M Forster, who is one of the people spoken of in this book. In fact, the book opens right after he has his first novel published. He’s returned a neat number of books, which I can now make my way through, so I am very excited about that. Also, I’ve never read any Virginia Woolf either, alarmingly enough. So, if any of you has recommendations to make about either author, and where I may begin with them, I would be very grateful.
I also really like J, by Howard Jacobson, which was longlisted for the Booker in 2014. I really liked his book, The Finkler Question, which is why I didn’t hesitate to pick this one up, regardless of the fact that it has terrible reviews on Goodreads, and a low rating too. The other reason I decided to get it is that it’s a dystopian novel, which is my favourite genre.
I really loved this book, which is a love story between two very likable characters, in a dystopian world. In this world, something catastrophic has happened which the government is attempting to cover up, while also doing damage control so that such an incident may not recur. This event is referred to as What Happened If it Happened, and is not directly alluded to throughout the book, and even at the end, it is only hinted at. Throughout the book, there was an air of mystery and of menace which really had me hooked. I loved how there were no draconian measures to enforce the rules, but instead they use economic and social sanctions, which are far more effective.
It’s not the best book, and I was quite disappointed with What Happened (If it happened) because it was quite predictable and I don’t know why but the book was so well-written that I wanted it to be…less obvious? I don’t know… What Happened is not really essential to the characters or the world really, and something else could have happened and still led to the same post-apocalyptic world being created. I really love this one line in the book, in fact, where a character says that the violent behaviour of persons, a sign of the times, is not a indication of a looming apocalypse, because they are living in a world where the apocalypse has already occurred. That sent shivers down my spine. (Which is an achievement in Calcutta summer. Just saying.) I really loved the book overall, and I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. So yes.
It has been a good reading week, but an insane one. Next in the pipeline is I am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak, which I am so very excited for. I have exams beginning next week, so wish me luck for them, guys! I’ll try to read less and study more. Promise. I will at least try. Stay tuned to hear of my success rate. 😛 -laughs maniacally and shamelessly and flies away into the moonlight-
Also, have you guys been dreaming of being able to chill with me on social media? Hold on to your hats, because you can! –gasping and applause- Here are the links:
Knock yourselves out, my lovelies! I’d love to hear from you. <3
Ok, too much love is happening. Must. Control. Self.
That is all (For now. Muahahaha)