Random thoughts

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The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan: A brightly polished gem

J. Courtney Sullivan writes the kind of long involving books into which you can comfortably sink, surfacing now and again for a cup of tea or whatever you fancy. I thoroughly enjoyed her previous novel, Maine; intelligently written and completely absorbing. The Engagements is structured around the idea of the engagement ring, a ‘tradition’ apparently …

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The Most Abandoned Books

This is not a post about lascivious, sensual reading matter: instead it’s the title of a list of books many readers have given up put together by Goodreads. Given my recent disappointments mentioned in Friday’s post I headed off to have a look and found many all too familiar titles – Moby Dick, Gravity’s Rainbow …

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What in God’s Name by Simon Rich: Short, sweet and very funny

I’ve given up a lot of books recently. It used to feel like a moral failing leaving a book unfinished but I’ve finally realised that it’s a complete waste of time hoping that something which hasn’t gripped you by page 50 will eventually blossom. I’ve already confessed to giving up Flight Behaviour in Monday’s post …

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Holiday reading ups and downs

Back from my Sussex hols the highlights of which were undoubtedly two gorgeous gardens – Great Dixter and Charleston Farmhouse – both the kind that look as if they’ve been causally thrown together although anyone who knows anything about gardening, and I know very little, understands that this kind of planting is the product of …

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The second novel conundrum

I’ve been circling warily around Andrew Miller’s Costa Prize winning Pure for some time now. Miller’s first novel, Ingenious Pain, is one of my favourite books. Set in the 18th century, its main protagonist, James Dyer, is conceived on an icy night as a result of an adulterous coupling with a stranger. James cannot feel …

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