Exploration of Motherhood in Books

Depicting mothers has always been a challenge that authors were willing to accept throughout history, particularly in adult fiction. They can be portrayed as the “ideal” mums, the ones that get everything right and do no wrong, but more often than not the most interesting mothers are those who are struggling in some way, that have conflicting feelings towards motherhood, that are afraid of failing, or that try incredibly hard to protect their offspring, occasionally to no avail.

In the latest years, I read some books that made me ponder on the importance that motherhood plays in stories. The mothers in Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, Circe by Madeline Miller, The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante, The Muse and The Confession by Jessie Burton are all dissimilar. Nevertheless, they have a huge relevance in the plot of the novels they are a part of, even when they are not the main characters.

If you have not read the novels I mentioned previously, I warn you that I’ll allude to some occurrences that may be considered spoilers. Continue reading

Love a Book, Judge the Next

Loving the first book that we read by an author is a fabulous experience, regardless if they are at the beginning of their writing career or if they already have various books published. The downside is that it can make us be much harsher when reading a second book by them. I think this happened to me a few times. I loved the first books that I read by certain authors so much that I ended up being much severe when judging my following reads by them.

 

Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

The first book that I read by Daphne du Maurier was the magnificent Rebecca, an enthralling, enigmatic and atmospheric novel, which is full of fleshed out characters. After marrying Maxim de Winter, the unnamed narrator moved with him to his family home, Manderley. She already felt inferior to his first wife, Rebecca, before, but living there only increased her insecurities and her sense of inaptitude.

After loving Rebecca, I was eager to continue exploring Du Maurier’s work. I soon picked up My Cousin Rachel. Philip, the narrator of the story, was raised by his older cousin Ambrose, who married Rachel while in Italy. Not long after his marriage, he died. Although Philip harboured suspicions about the role of his cousin Rachel in Ambrose’s death, he ended up falling in love with her. There’s a mysterious ambience throughout, as readers are skilfully led to have conflicting feelings about the characters. I was not fully convinced by how Philip fell so head over heels with Rachel, though. Despite being certain that I didn’t like it nowhere near as much as Rebecca, I feel like I was a bit too harsh on my review. Continue reading

So Different and So Similar Pairs of Books

Two books can have significant elements in common and still tell different stories. Characters may face similar situations, but their individual choices take the plots in completely different directions. The themes of two novels may be similar, but the action, the characters and the writing style ensure that they are ultimately distinctive and readers are still experiencing a fresh story.

I’ve read (at least) four pairs of books that are both different and similar for various reasons.

 

História do Cerco de Lisboa (The History of the Siege of Lisbon) by José Saramago + The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier

These two novels have in common being my least favourites, so far, by José Saramago and Daphne du Maurier, two authors I adore. This is not the reason why I chose them to be part of this post. Both of them are also set in two different time periods, which are connected by a man. The tribulations that the characters face, however, are completely different. Continue reading

Favourite Books of the Last Five Years

Before I created this blog, almost three years ago, I started rating the books that I read on a spreadsheet in 2014. I’m not sure why I decided to do it, but it was also around that time that I started watching videos about books on YouTube. Today I want to share with you my favourite books since then, which means of the last five years.

I haven’t selected a book per year. The books below are, instead, my favourites from the whole period in no particular order.

 

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

King Robert Baratheon sits on the Iron Throne and invites Lord Eddard Stark to be his Hand. But the fragile peace is in peril. Not only are the Lords of Westeros playing dangerous power games, but the exiled Targaryens also want to retake their father’s throne. The first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series is written from various points of view and is full of political machinations. The plot is enthralling and the characters are complex and multifaceted. Continue reading

My Least and Most Viewed Reviews

Book reviews are the type of posts I most like to write for this blog, and they are also the ones that take me the longest to complete and edit. Nevertheless, they tend to have less views than the rest of the content on my blog. At least this is the perception I have. I don’t analyse my blog statistics thoroughly and frequently, thus there is a slight possibility that I’m wrong.

But this is something that has been intriguing me lately. So, I took a quick look at my blog stats to discover the reviews with the most and the least number of views. The titles of the books mentioned below link to the full reviews.

 

My Three Most Viewed Reviews

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The reason why I think this is my most viewed review is that it was published around the time when The Power was announced as the winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2017. Told from various points of view, it delves into what happened when women discovered they had the power to electrocute other people with their hands. I quite liked the premise but didn’t enjoy the execution as much. Continue reading

Favourite Books Written by Women

Ahead of International Women’s Day, on 8th March, I put together a list of my favourite books written by women. Although I believe that unintentionally I still read more books by men than by women, it wasn’t difficult at all to come up with these five magnificent books by female authors. In fact, I could have mentioned many more books than the ones below, but I wanted to keep the list short.

In no special order, these are some of the books written by women which were a delight to read:

 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

One of the most captivating books I’ve ever read, Rebecca was my first foray into Daphne du Maurier’s work. It is narrated by an unnamed woman who recalls meeting Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo. She accepted to marry him, and they went to live at Manderley, his family home. There, the shadow of his deceased first wife, Rebecca, was even more present. Apparently, she had exceled at everything, so the narrator’s doubts and insecurities became overwhelming. The characters are complex, and the prose is utterly atmospheric. Continue reading

Favourite Books I Read in 2017

When I started reflecting on my reading experience in 2017, the first word that sprang to mind to describe it was ‘inconsistent’. It wasn’t a particularly extraordinary year, but it was also far from bad. A couple of the books that I read I ended up loving, a few I quite liked, and others were satisfactory. However, I really didn’t like three books, having rated them with 2 stars, and also gave up on reading two books without even reaching 1/3 of their length, and thus I can’t really make a fair assessment about them.

In terms of numbers, I’ve read 33 books so far and will probably finish another one before the actual end of the year. I do know that this is a really small number for many people, but for me it’s a great one, since I’ve only managed to read 19 books in 2016, and not that many years ago I was probably not even reading more than one book per month.

My favourite books from the ones that I read this year, in reverse order, are:

Continue reading

Favourite Books with a Historical Backdrop

Whenever I’m book shopping, one of the many things that catches my attention is the time period in which a story is set in. I tend to like books which either the entirety or only part of the action takes place at the time of an important historical event. These are books whose fictional characters and events end up being embroiled in a real historical episode in one way or another and that can be labelled as historical fiction or not.

I categorise as historical fiction the books that not only are set in the past, but that also were written by authors who were born after the time period in which their novel unfolds. In these cases, authors don’t have a first-hand experience of the period they depicted in their novels. Books with a historical backdrop, on the other hand, can be written by authors who lived during the time period the story is set in or not. But, and more importantly for this distinction, besides depicting the manners and other details about a particular time period, these books feature an important real historical event. So, for me, a novel with a historical backdrop is not necessarily historical fiction.

After explaining how I describe books with a historical backdrop, I can now reveal which are my favourites. Continue reading

‘The Muse’ by Jessie Burton

My rating: 5 stars

A painting shrouded in mystery serves as the trigger for the plot of The Muse by Jessie Burton. This is a beautifully crafted novel featuring several themes that gracefully come together in a story connecting two time periods: 1936 and 1967. Insights into artists’ feelings are mixed with criticisms of both unequal treatment of women and racism, achieving an enthralling read.

Odelle Bastien moved from Port of Spain (Trinidad) to London looking for a better life. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, but is working at a shoe shop, which doesn’t stop her from hoping to get another job where she can better apply her skills. 1967 is the year when she receives a letter from Marjorie Quick offering her a job as a typist at the Skelton Gallery.

She narrates the story in the first person. The reader has direct access to her thoughts and feelings, how she has always wanted to write, how she becomes amazed by Quick after starting her new job, and how she is struggling with the fact that her best friend, Cynthia, is not going to live with her anymore after getting married. Continue reading