I’ve had another great month of reading so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the books I’ve managed to read during March.
Sadly, working full time has meant I read nowhere near as much as in January and February, but I’m pretty happy with how much I did manage considering I read the longest book I ever have, Les Mandarins.
1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Frank L. Baum
5/5: What a wonderful (lol, get it) start to the month for March. I adored this little book so much and I plan to read the whole series (I’m currently half-way through the second one too). It was just so sweet and nice to read. Even though it’s a book for kids, I found some of it quite existential and adult-y if that makes any sense. I fell in love with Frank Baum’s writing during this one.
2. Chanson Douce (The Perfect Nanny) – Leila Slimani
3/5: There has been a lot of hype surrounding this book recently and when I discovered it was French, I thought I’d give it a stab and read it in French (after I started it in English and realised I should be using my French)! I feel like I would’ve enjoyed it a little more if I’d read it in English as I definitely missed a lot of the nuances of the writing, but it was still a good read.
3. Red Clocks – Leni Zumas
2/5: So this book was a weird one for me. I was hoping to really enjoy it as the synopsis seemed fitting for me so I pushed it to the top of my ToReadSoon bookshelf. However, I was really disappointed. The story didn’t grab me at all, and neither did the characters or the writing. Firstly, there’s really one major event in the book that only occurs in the last 40 pages or so, and the outcome’s pretty awful.
The characters are not really likeable and don’t have hugely distinctive characteristics to make them stand out to us (apart from maybe the mender) so I found myself getting confused a bit. The biographer and the wife were basically the same, bitchy, unhappy women. Also, the writing was definitely not to my style at all. In other words, it was atrociously written. I think the writer used the style to highlight the mundane existence of these women/the magical nature/the teenage nature, but to be honest, it was just awful. It was semi stream of consciousness so all we got was random bits spotted in conversations. There’s whole pages about the wife cooking quinoa. Like, cmon?!
All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this to someone looking for something similar to The Handmaid’s Tale or a nice feminist fiction book. There’s nothing really feminist (or interesting, or exciting) about this book at all.
4. The Mandarins – Simone de Beauvoir
4/5: So this is the longest book I’ve ever read and I am glad I read it. It actually seemed like a lot shorter than 750 pages because I enjoyed it so much. Having read a little of de Beauvoir before, and knowing her feminist past, I was absorbed in this book trying to capture the little hints of her feminism and notes of the people around her in real life.
Despite the intensity of her writing, it was actually quite easy to read. It’s very much about politics from an intellectual’s perspective but the way she presented politics was in such an incredible way, and this is what really attracts me to her as a writer. She presents two sides to every argument seamlessly, and she seems to fully understand all of the different takes to the arguments she presents from different characters in the book. She so intellectually creates two opposing arguments that it almost feels as if you’re in the room with the characters listening to their argument, it is so naturally written. I related to this side of the novel a lot.
The main thing that really irked me about this book was the extremely long chapters of Anne’s point of view. I found her character very annoying, along with some of the other female characters. I was shocked by how annoying I found them, but I’m pretty sure de Beauvoir was playing up to men’s stereotypes of women and deliberately made the female characters very tiresome (or I hope so, anyway).
5. The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah
4/5: The Nightingale was another weird read for me. I’d read amazing things about it, and it has an incredible rating in Goodreads, so I was expecting great things. The first half I slugged through a little bit and thought it was extremely predictable. There was only one twist in the whole book that I hadn’t previously predicted which made the book a little tedious for me. The hints from the author were very indiscreet so I was just waiting for things to happen.
However, I actually thoroughly enjoyed the second half and got extremely into the story. I think what interested me a lot more was when we really got to hear Isabelle’s side to the story; she’s a strong woman who does what she wants, and saved many people’s lives. For two-thirds of the book, I struggled to like Vianne as she seemed too weak a female lead, but she pulled through to be an ok representation of women.
The main message the book was trying to portray was definitely an important one; that the silent women of WWII were a huge part of the war, and helped save an innumerable amount of lives. It’s inspired me to read more on the resistance during WWII, particularly in France and particularly women.
6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
4/5: This was such a sad, beautiful & hopeful book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It’s so short and manageable, and I got sucked into the story very quickly. The story follows an autistic boy and his thought processes as he struggles with family issues. Some of the story was very sad to read and you knew there couldn’t be an overly happy ending reality for this boy, along with people who are similar in real life. It only took me a few days to finish and I’m glad I read it after hearing very good things about it.
So, that’s it for this month. All in all, a great month of reading and I’ve already started on my next few books!
À bientôt !