Monday, August 06, 2007

July's Books

I've given all the books I finished reading in July a five star rating and have thoroughly enjoyed all of them, for different reasons. I've already mentioned Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin and Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, both excellent books.



I also briefly referred to Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, which he based on the letters of Mary Hallock Foote. This book won the Pullitzer Prize for fiction in 1972. It is the story of Lyman Ward, a wheelchair bound retired historian who is writing his grandparents' life history and also gradually reveals his own story. I now know much more about the early days of the opening up of America's western frontier than I learnt from TV cowbow series and films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid etc. The story is of Oliver Ward's struggles with various mining and engineering construction jobs, contrasted with Susan Ward's efforts to support him against great difficulties. This is made more difficult when she compares her life with that of her New York society friend, Augusta.

It's a long book, but completely enthralling. There are long letters from Susan to her friends which I think are taken directly from Mary Foote's own letters and these are such descriptive letters that I could imagine what life was really like at that time and place. My only criticism is that I felt the ending came too quickly and was too compacted. I wanted to know more about Susan and Oliver. It was as though Lyman became too disappointed with how their life turned out, or maybe it was because he was too engrossed in his own problems, his illness and difficulties in his personal life. Ted suggested I'd also like Crossing to Safety, so that's also on my to be read list now.

I interrupted my reading of The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman and Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk to concentrate on reading JK Rowling's final (?) book of the series - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I finished all three last week whilst staying at Twilles Barn.

What can I say about Harry Potter? A N Wilson says it so much better here than I can. I'll only add that I was glad not to find one single Quidditch match and I thought the ending was well worth waiting for. I particularly liked the section near the end when Harry was talking to Dumbledore.

4 comments:

Ted said...

Glad to read your appreciation of Stegner - I hope you enjoy Crossing to Safety when you get to it. I'm also a Pullman fan - found the trilogy imaginative and enjoyable.

StuckInABook said...

No Quidditch in the latest film either, and, while I could quite happily cope without that, I did feel the loss of Hogwarts. My quashed literary snobbery makes me wish I were making erudite comments on Proust or somesuch instead...

Tara said...

I'm glad to hear you've read so many enjoyable books lately! I am in agreement with you in regards to the Quidditch and the conversation with Dumbledore.

BooksPlease said...

Ted, I 've just checked my library's on-line cataglogue and Crossing to Safety is on the shelf. I hope it's still there when I get there!

Stuckinabook, Harry had to leave, though didn't he.I've never got on with Proust ... perhaps you'll persuade me?

Tara, I expect I'll find it difficult to "get into" a book now. That usually happens to me after reading just one really enjoyable book!