Wednesday, 14 March 2012

What I've Been Reading

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been reading quite a lot recently so over the next few weeks I’m going to post some reviews.

Firstly though, today I’ve submitted my entry for the Novelicious Undiscovered competition – up to 3000 words of an opening chapter of a chick lit novel.  It’s a novel I’ve been working on for a number of years now, so fingers crossed.  It would be wonderful to be selected but I know there will be huge competition and I’m not counting my chickens.

Now, onto the reviews.   A while ago (well last year actually!) on my usual trawl through Amazon (I don’t need any more new books to topple over the tbr pile, or clog up my Kindle, but I’m afraid I’m addicted), I came across the Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly.

I was intrigued to find out how the writer would bring the original into the present day.  In the modern version, the great granddaughter of Jo finds her ancestor’s letters in the attic and uses them to help her deal with her dilemmas in the present day.
I love these kind of stories which delve back into the past so it seemed like a winner to me. And then I realised that although I had seen the film, I had never actually read the original book. With a free download available on Kindle I decided this was an error I must rectify immediately
Well, to all you Louisa May Alcott fans, I’d like to say that I was enthralled by this classic. But I can’t. To be honest, although I loved the sisters, I found the story a little patronising towards women. Now, I do realise this was written when male and female attitudes were vastly different, but I found the idea of Jo curbing her temper, as her father had taught her mother to do, a little difficult to wear.  I also found the authorial point of view, which kept butting in, nothing short of irritating.  Compared to, for example, Jane Austen, which despite the difference in attitudes, translates much more readily to a modern day audience, I found Little Women a little tedious.  I apologise to all you die-hard fans, this is just my opinion.
As for The Little Women Letters, well, I found it an interesting enough read.  I loved the way the family came together, and despite their differing lives, always made the effort to meet up for Saturday brunch.  More families should make the time to get together like this, I think.  I loved the atmosphere this created in the story, but I’m afraid the reading of the book didn’t really live up to the anticipation of it.  I felt the story and the lives of the characters were too contrived and tried too hard to mirror the pattern of the original, and for me it fell a little flat.

The Help – Kathryn Stockett
In contrast, this was a book I had been putting off reading.  Despite the fact that a very good friend of mine had recommended it, I wasn’t sure it was the book for me. Guilt that I had held on to it for so long though, forced me to pick it up and, oh, am I glad that I did.  It is an amazing insight into Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960’s and just how the racial divide affected the inhabitants of the area. I challenge any woman to read it and not be enthralled. For me I couldn’t but help keep turning the pages.

The Honey Trap – Julie Cohen

I have recently become an avid follower of Julie’s blog and as such am keen to read her backlist. As an aspiring writer of women’s fiction, her advice is invaluable. A while ago I stumbled across Spirit Wiling, Flesh Weak, and was delighted to find The Honey Trap in the library.   I completely devoured this book.  A love story with the edge of a thriller, aromatherapist meets rock band, it was a delight to read. A top rating from me.

And finally …

Home for Christmas – Cally Taylor
This is Cally Taylor’s second novel and one I made my husband buy me for Christmas. And whilst I read it in the few spare moments when I wasn’t entertaining between Christmas and New Year, lying on the sofa eating Quality Street and drinking wine (for isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas?) I didn’t feel that that the book reflected the Christmassy element suggested buy the title. Despite that, it was an enjoyable read and I loved the cinema setting, which almost became a character in its own right.

That's all for now, but I'll be back with some more reviews soon.


  1. Little Women was one of my favourite books many years ago - I attempted to re-read it recently and gave up after a couple of chapters; like you, I found it tedious. But I know I loved it when I was about ten/eleven so I guess my tastes have changed. I was sorry it didn't have the magic I remembered but I guess it goes to show that some things are better left to memory! I like the sound of the Little Women Letters so might give that a go.

    And best of luck with the novel comp!

  2. What a lovely bunch of reviews! It is so long since I read Little Women and I wonder if I would enjoy it as much now as I did then. I agree with you about The Help - one of the best books I've ever read. Loved it! I shall look out for the others x