Books I Read This Week 2020 – 19

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I also have an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Sorry for your Trouble (4 stars): “We were transients. We were sheltered and stubborn in our view of life. But had we been able to stand outside of our circumstances we’d have known who we were and had become. Such changes are not easy to evaluate when they’re occurring.”

This was my first Richard Ford collection. There are a collection of nine stories in this book, two of which are novella-sized. The stories take place in Maine, New Orleans, and Ireland. Richard Ford’s characters are real, his writing is beautiful and his words are crafted in such a way that makes you stop in your tracks and makes you want to slow down and savor every word.

The characters in this novel aren’t an enviable lot. There’s so much apathy on the surface of these stories. So many different situations that would easily be full of melodrama in other novels but here they are quiet, almost uncaring in the midst of so much tension.

I am not usually a fan of short stories, I have a hard time getting attached to the characters in so many words. And yet, so many of these characters have stayed with me. But, of course, none of them can compete with the exquisite language in this book.

With gratitude to netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Happy Ever After Playlist (3 stars): This was a sweet, cute novel. The beginning felt a lot stronger, to me, than the middle/end. Especially the dialogue as they were flirting with each other. Light, sweet and easy to enjoy.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires (3.5 stars): I am not even sure why I read this book. Vampires and horror are not the genre that speaks to me and nor do I like campy or ironic or black humor. But I read so many good reviews that I felt compelled to give this a try. And it was quite well done. Especially the beginning was very strong. I felt like the middle and end started to fall apart a tiny bit but it did finish strong and, much to my surprise, I liked it quite a bit.

The Other People (4 stars): I read this book in one sitting. If mystery is your genre and you’re not just into the twisty, unreliable narrator thing (which i definitely am not) you will like this high quality, well written mystery. I read one more book in a very similar theme this year but this one was well done and the creepiness factor was just right.

If I Had Your Face (4 stars): I went into this story knowing nothing about it and read the whole book in one sitting. Even though I don’t disagree with the reviews that desired more depth and felt like each of the characters could have had a novel of their own, I still loved the story. I felt fascinated and sad and horrified in different parts and found myself wanting to know more and more, which to me, is a good sign for a book. While it felt short, it didn’t feel shallow or flimsy, to me.

The Margot Affair (4 stars): “You think I’m a bad person, don’t you? Why are you always worried about being good or bad? Who taught you that? It’s a way of deferring responsibility for your actions.”

This book is the story of Margot, who is the high school daughter of a somewhat famous actor, Anouk. Her dad is a local politician but he’s also married to someone else and Anouk is his long-time lover. The story starts as a story about this family and Margot navigating her life in this more unusual set up.

“At Juliette’s, it felt as though my lungs were filled with more air, and the heaviness in my limbs would evaporate until I grew light enough to hover right above the ground, able to breathe at last.”

Craving a different relationship both with her mom and her dad, for different reasons. Fascinated by the world. Going through fleeting moments of overconfidence and neediness as many teenagers tend to do. Leading up to her betrayal and the aftermath, I really enjoyed this part of the story.

“Sadness is a fleeting emotion, Anouk said, just as happiness is.”

The second part of the story is mostly about Margot and an older couple she befriends and dives into female relationships a little bit but most of the characters in the story are only visible to the reader through Margot’s eyes and her feelings and thoughts. I enjoyed the limited view this posed even where it was clear we were getting a filtered view of things.

“My role isn’t to explain everything to you. I can’t explain your father to you, and you can’t understand what it was like. A marriage is a closed world. Anyone who thinks they can explain it to an outsider is a fool.”

There’s so little that really happens in this story. It’s mostly a character study, which is my favorite kind of novel especially when the writing is as visual and expressive as it is here. Even though it’s not an uplifting story, I don’t think it was depressing either. It felt like a slice of life, with some ups and some downs. As most of life is.

“What happened to daughters like us? Would we flee our families, wanting to be far away, wishing to carve out a life that was ours alone, far removed from where we came from? Or were we always destined to return? I wanted to absorb her into myself so I was never alone. I wasn’t afraid.”

I really enjoyed my time with this book. I savored the writing and the characters. It definitely felt French, to me, but the themes, of course are so eternal: marriage, motherhood, belonging, secrecy and friendship. The stuff of life.

with gratitude to netgalley and Random House for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

And there we go, grateful to be reading.

Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

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