I have had a pretty stellar reading week. I finished two novels: Longbourn (Jo Baker) and The Wrath and the Dawn (Renée Ahdieh), but I also finished an anthology, Winter, and a poetry collection, Wild Flowers (Michelle S Smith).
That is pretty good going for me.
Reading Wild Flowers did make me want to read more poetry, because when I do I actually really enjoy the experience. Last year I hardly read any poetry and I really need to change that!
I read the first chapter of the concluding book of the Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden yesterday, as my eyes were drooping, wanting to go to sleep. I really hope The Winter of the Witch will be all I want it to be to complete a series I have loved the first two books of in style. I have only heard good things, but that does not always mean much.
In the week ahead I hope to read The Winter of the Witch and The Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey).
I might read something else inbetween, so they don’t blur into one. I have a little book called The Godolphin Arabian, which is based on the story of one of the founding sires of the modern thoroughbred racehorse. It has been asking for me to read it and it’s only small. It was written in 1846 by Eugene Sue (in French), but this is a recent translation. It is only short and should be a quick fun read.
I hope to read at least 100 pages of The Winter of the Witch today, but I am not pushing myself today – I read plenty this week!
Author: Jo Baker
Genre: Historical Fiction Pages: 443
First published: 2013
Edition: Paperback, published by Transworld Books in 2014
It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah’s hands are chapped and raw. Domestic life below stairs, ruled with a tender heart and an iron will by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman, bearing secrets and the scent of the sea.
When I started this novel based on Pride and Prejudice I realised I had read it before, probably around the time it came out. Since I did not remember much about it I was happy to read it again. I worried it would not be very good since I had completely forgotten I had already read it!
I was pleasantly surprised. The story, centered around the Bennets’ servants, is very well told. I loved all the details about their chores and their daily lives compared to the Bennets. Our main character Sarah is a sweet hard-working girl, and it is easy to like her.
The ‘cast’ from Pride and Prejudice appear here and there and you recognise the events, but it never feels like it leans too heavily on the classic we all know and love. In fact I thought it was quite interesting to see those characters ‘behind-the-scenes;, as it were. All in all, it does manage to very much feels like its own book. It would have worked even if it had not used Jane Austen’s novel as its skeleton.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it is a thoughtfully written historical novel in which you learn a lot more about the time period in which the Austen novels are set and written, and not just the pretty things.
A bit of a gem in my opinion.
6 out of 7 stars