Book Review: Love’s Shadow by Ada Leverson


It has been so long since I posted an actual book review that I feel like I don’t remember how to do it. Plus, I finished reading Love’s Shadow twenty-two days ago…it’s a good thing my “reviews” don’t cleave to any particular format or quality standard. That way I can’t go wrong. Right?

This is the first of the brightly colored Bloomsbury Group reissues that I can say that I loved. I quite liked Miss Hargreaves but had my reservations. I was confused and semi-annoyed by The Brontes Went to Woolworths. And I was a little bored with Henrietta’s War. So it was with some trepidation that I picked up this hot pink volume. But I needn’t have worried, Love’s Shadow is a fantastically fun book and a good read.

According to the back of the book Oscar Wilde once called Ada Leverson “the wittiest woman in the world”. I am not sure I would go that far, but Leverson certainly is witty and gives Wilde himself a run for his money when it comes to droll one-liners and word-play. The story is loosely centered on Edith and Bruce Ottley but almost as much attention is to devoted to others in, and adjacent to, their social circle. Civil servant Bruce and his unshakable faith in his own theatrical talent provided some of the funniest bits of the book. His decision to make loads of money writing a hit play despite having no discernible writing talent, prior experience, or plot ideas made me picture him as a sort of Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster kind of character.

Having finished this about three weeks ago, I certainly don’t remember the details of the plot, but I am not sure it matters too much. The genius and fun of Love’s Shadow is in the journey rather than the destination. In fact, now that I think about it, the other Bloomsbury Group books I mention above are similar. Perhaps if I had let myself enjoy the ride more, and surrendered to their slightly kooky premises, I might have found them more satisfying. That might be worth exploring in future re-reads.  In any event, Love’s Shadow was a perfect way to ring in the new year and make quick progress on my sixty-odd book TBR Dare pile for the first three months of 2012.

Howards End Stream of Consciousness (with Zombies?)


It annoys me that Susan Hill used the popularity of this novel–or more likely the Merchant-Ivory film–to sell her second-rate collection of uninsightful, egotistical, blog-like musings on the contents of her giant brain. I know there are two unequal but clearly divided camps about Hill’s Howards End is on the Landing and I forgive you if you fall into the much larger “liked it” camp.

This may be a picture of the
West Bank Parking Ramp
at the U of MN.

Having gotten that off of my chest, I will now embark upon an uninsightful, egotistical, blog-like musing on my second reading of Howards End. I first read Forster’s Tour de France (sic) in the spring of my sophomore year in college. I was working as a parking garage cashier at the University of Minnesota (in Minnesota we call multilevel parking garages “parking ramps”–a phrase my east coast grad school roommate at Cornell beat out of me). It was a great job. I got to sit in a heated booth each evening where I would study, read, talk on the phone, write letters (yes, we wrote letters in 1989), and plan (in great detail) my first trip to England. Occasionally there would be a rush of cars needing to pay as they exited, but still lots and lots of free time. It occurs to me now that I may have cheated the University of Minnesota and the taxpayers of my natal state out of a chunk of change. Not for studying on the job–that was allowed–but because I regularly filled in my time sheet incorrectly (and inadvertantly). You see my hours were supposed to be from about 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm each weekday but the other cashier–a full-time, non-student employee–told me each night around 9:00 pm that I could go. Although he was my onsite supervisor (he looked a bit like a short, tubby version of the then unknown Unabomber) my hours were set by the central parking office. So when I filled out my time card I always put down six hours instead of five because those were the hours I was scheduled to work. I can honestly say that it never occurred to me that rather than reflect the schedule, my time card should reflect actual hours worked. Oops.

Anyhoo, after re-reading Howards End I realize how appropriate it was that I first read it while I worked in the aforementioned parking structure. I was the modern day equivalent of Leonard Bast, striving to better myself and overcome socio-economic destiny through the moral uplift of great literature. It worked far better in my case, if for no other reason than I didn’t die after being assaulted by Emma Thompson, err I mean Margaret Schlegel’s stepson.

Class barriers really suck and Forster (to my mind) always does wonderfully trying to break them down. Which of his books doesn’t include themes of breaking free of societal conventions?

The shuffle feature on an iPod can really surprise. I am now listening to the bell peal of St. Mary Redcliffe in Bristol. Of course this begs the question why I have an album of The Church Bells of England on my iPod. But if you have to ask that question, you aren’t quite the Cardigan Mafioso/a I thought you were. And now the iPod is on to John Legend. The other day I asked my John who he thought should write and record a song about our dog Lucy called “Honeybear” (my mother’s appellation for the lovable Lucy). I gave him the choice of Ben Folds, John Legend, or Diana Krall. And then I don’t think I gave him a chance to answer as I talked about how good John Legend’s version would be.

As I have mentioned countless times before, my introduction to the world of Forster was the Merchant-Ivory version of A Room With a View–which has been universally acknowledged* as the best film ever made. I shudder to think how old I might have been when I discovered Forster if it wasn’t for that film.  And besides telling interesting stories, Forster has a knack for describing the human condition.

Paul Cadmus’ homage to Forster.

 Was Mrs. Wilcox one of the unsatisfactory people — there are many of them — who dangle intimacy and then withdraw it? They evoke our interests and affections, and keep the life of the spirit dawdling around them. Then they withdraw. When physical passion is involved, there is a definite name for such behaviour–flirting–and if carried far enough it is punishable by law. But no law–not public opinion even–punishes those who coquette with friendship, though the dull ache that they inflict, the sense of misdirected effort and exhaustion, may be as intolerable.

I have known many people like that. Therapy has led me to wonder if my sometimes insufferable behavior (hopefully mostly in my past) might not be the reason for some people to behave this way towards me. But I have a feeling it isn’t all my fault. It is hard for me to think that the Vanessa Redgrave version of Mrs. Wilcox would be that way, but the scene in the film (and book) where she leaves Margaret behind at the train station and goes off with Mr. Wilcox and Evie has always depressed me. I know that feeling so well. Lots of excitement to do something fun with a friend only to have circumstances intervene and the friend ditch you for something else…always stings a bit, even if the reason for said ditchment (pronounced ala francaise) is legitimate.

Forster Monument behind
St. Nicholas Church
in Stevenage, England.

I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading this book 23 years after I first read it. I pondered what I might have thought and felt when I read it the first time (I don’t remember). And I really enjoyed thinking about how it differed from the film version. Unlike most other film adaptations, the Merchant-Ivory film stands up to the book. The film is certainly faithful to the spirit of the book and the instances where it differs in letter were really quite brilliant changes that not only make the film work well, but also reinforce Forster’s intent. I wonder if he would agree. I once opined somewhere in the blogosphere that I would love to meet Forster and show him all “his” films.

If you haven’t read Forster, you should. If you are chicken, try Where Angels Fear to Tread, if you feel a little more committed try A Room With A View, if you long for something a little queer try Maurice, and if you really want the full force of Forsters literary brilliance go for Howards End. (I know some esteemed blogger tried hard to like Forster and finally managed with Howards End–no names…)  Or if you are hopelessly unable to pick up a Forster novel watch the Merchant-Ivory versions (and only the Merchant-Ivory versions) of A Room With A ViewHowards End, and Maurice (in that order). And if you don’t like the books or the films…can’t. talk. now. mind. melting…

This is what came up when I did a Google image search for “west bank parking ramp university of minnesota”
It is an image from a story in the Minnesota Daily about a Zombie Pub Crawl.
Could this be Helen Schlegel (Helena Bonham-Carter) the Zombie?

Book Review: Sunset Park by Paul Auster


There must be two Paul Austers. There is the older Paul Auster who wrote The Brooklyn Follies, Man in the Dark, and Sunset Park–all of which I enjoyed. And then there is the younger Paul Auster who wrote with City of Glass (the first book in his New York Trilogy) which, at least in the first 30 pages, seemed to be some kind of absurdist crime story. Since I didn’t read beyond the first 30 pages of the trilogy there might be something I would like that I missed by quitting too soon. And I think I will pick it back up some day and read the whole thing–it isn’t very long. But the trilogy confirms why I didn’t pick up Auster for so many years. It comes off as one of those clever books written by a manly man guy’s guy that just don’t appeal to me. The Brooklyn Follies on the other hand–the first Auster I read–was a totally accessible and highly enjoyable relationship novel about an irascible older man wanting to just retire and eventually die in peace only to have his plans thwarted by the events and people around him. While Man in the Dark has absurdist qualities, I found it quite poignant and enjoyed it as well.

Published in 2010, Sunset Park definitely falls on the “accessible relationship book” end of the Paul Auster spectrum. The book centers around Miles Heller a 28-year old who has been trying to run from his family and his past for eight years. Because of the circumstances surrounding the death of his step-brother Miles drops out of college and moves around the country going from menial job to menial job never telling his family where he is or even letting them know that he is still alive. When the book opens Miles is working in Florida for a company that cleans out houses that have gone into foreclosure, setting the economic recession background of the story. Florida is one of the states that has been hardest hit by the housing meltdown and is synonymous in my mind with cheap, ticky tacky housing developments for people who care about the sun more than about any other factors that make up quality of life. New Yorker Miles, like me, isn’t so enamoured:

…there is no question that he has had his fill of the Florida sun–which, after much study, he now believes does the soul more harm than good. It is a Machiavellian sun in his opinion, a hypocritical sun, and the light it generates does not illuminate things but obscures them–blinding you with its blasts of vaporous humidity, destabilizing you with its miragelike reflections and shimmering waves of nothingness. It is all glitter and dazzle, but it offers no substance, no tranquillity, no respite.

Although Auster was 63 when he wrote this book I think he does an excellent job tapping into the mind of a 20-something–or at least what I remember of those days from my 42-year old perch. In many ways Miles, having run away from his life at age 20 is still kind of stuck there. But there is something wonderful and free about his transient life and his menial jobs. Would I want to go back to that kind of student-like subsistence? No. But Auster did evoke a rush of romantic nostalgia in me as I thought back to those days when I had so little to lose in the way of material comfort that I could remain unbeholden to any particular job or living situation. When my personal responsibilities had a very short time horizon and the future seem endlessly open. However, the lure of youthful potential is not enough to make me want to uproot my life for the sake of freedom.  And of course, adult jobs provide adult resources that in turn make many things possible unthinkable to 20-year old me.

Auster manages to include more than a few erotic adventures without making them seem like the wistful thinking of a wistful 63-year old author. One of my big problems with Sophie’s Choice was that the sex scenes seemed like gratuitous masturbatory fodder for author Styron. Auster’s adventures have a kind of pan-sexual quality to them that make them feel as relevant to the story as they titillating.

Miles is reunited with his family but the outcome is anything but pat. Auster leaves the reader with more than a few questions unanswered and with a worry that things might not work out for Miles.

Book Review: Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd


Miss Ranskill Comes Home is a book that could have gone a lot of different directions. Miss Ranskill is lost at sea on a pleasure cruise in 1939. She winds up on a deserted island being cared for by a working class carpenter who is also stranded on the island. The book begins four years into Miss Ranskill’s ordeal and we find her digging a grave for the recently departed carpenter. Not long after this opening scene she is rescued by a British convoy headed back to England. While convalescing on a destroyer Miss Ranskill learns that England has been at war for four years but nothing she learns on board prepares her for what she will encounter when she gets back to England. She comes back to a country deep into the deprivations of war. She is confused by rationing, almost mistaken for a spy, and unable to find her place in the new world order.

I kind of wanted this novel to be gut-wrenchingly sad. There were certainly moments when it could have been but I found them soon and often interrupted with moments of levity. I didn’t mind the levity and found the book overall to be enjoyable and heart-warming. But there was a part of me that wanted it to be the serious tragedy it could have been. Four years living with a man and they not only never, ahem, got busy, but they didn’t even call each other by their christian names. The confusion when she first returns to England could have ended up with Miss Ranskill in prison as a spy or in an asylum. Her money, inherited by her sister who thought her long dead could have been gone. I should say that not all in this novel was humorous. The book does indeed touch on some of the tragedy of the story and the special perspective Miss Ranskill has on life and class and what’s important.

There was one section of the book when I thought I was going to be unhappy with my reading experience. When she first gets back to England and ends up at the front door of her school friend’s house in ill fitting clothes and no shoes and yet her friend doesn’t slow down enough to find out what happened to her. And worse, Miss Ranskill doesn’t say “Hey! I have been stranded on an island for four years and I am in crisis!” I know that it is stupid of me to ask for such plot-killing clarity. But that kind of confusion reminds me of all those bad, mad-cap sitcoms of my childhood where all the kerfuffle could have been avoided if only someone had spoken up before things got out of hand. Thankfully that kind of craziness didn’t go much beyond that early scene in Miss Ranskill.

Definitely an enjoyable Persephone with a unique plot.

Book Review: Arkansas by David Leavitt


This collection of three novellas by David Leavitt was the perfect book to follow my re-read of the bleak and rather depressing, but brilliant As For Me and My House.

The title Arkansas doesn’t have much to do with any of them but rather refers to an Oscar Wilde quip quoted at the start of the book. But the book is chock a block with references to E.M. Forster. I don’t think they would get in the way for those unfamiliar with Forster’s work but they are fun to spot for those of us who are.

The first, and by far the best novella in the collection, The Term Paper Artist is a hilarious send up of Leavitt’s own problems with plagiarism. For those who are familiar with Leavitt’s better known works (like The Lost Language of Cranes) you are probably aware that Stephen Spender accused Leavitt of plagiarizing parts of Spender’s memoir in his novel While England Slept. The hero of the novella (written in the first person) is Leavitt himself. He has moved in with his father in LA temporarily to escape from all the hoopla over the plagiarism case. Not quite able to focus on his next novel he ends up wasting a lot of time purportedly doing research in the UCLA library. I think my favorite laugh out loud moment is when he goes to the literature section, finds his books on the shelves, and autographs them. Leavitt eventually ends up writing term papers for good looking, straight, male undergraduates in exchange for sex. The novella is not without its steamy sex scenes but it is ultimately more humorous and even sweet than it is sexy.

The second novella, The Wooden Anniversary, takes place in Tuscany and has a kind of Will and Grace quality to it. You know, those episodes of W&G where their relationship was creepily co-dependent with gay Will unable to have healthy relationships with gay men because of his dependence on Grace. I hated those parts of W&G because the underlying message seemed to be that gay men can only expect fulfillment by aping the constructs of straight relationships–and with a straight woman no less. In the case of this novella, the straight girl who never gets over being in love with her gay best friend.  Not unenjoyable to read, but nothing to write home about.

The third novella, Saturn Street, is a late 80s AIDS story is not without poignancy, and better than The Wooden Anniversary, but ultimately forgettable.

Overall, this collection was an enjoyable quick read, but the first novella is the only one really worth seeking out.

Book Review: As For Me and My House by Sinclair Ross


I have talked up this book so much since I first read it about fifteen years ago I was a bit afraid to re-read it. There was a time in my reading past where I had a few friends whose reading tastes I trusted without question. I was so impressionable that their favorites became my favorites. What would happen if 42-year old Thomas didn’t agree with 27-year old Thomas? Not a big deal in itself, but I have gone on about this book to so many people with such hyperbolic flair over the years that I began to worry I might be damaging my book recommendation credibility.

So when I pulled As For Me and My House off the shelf this summer to give it a re-read I was troubled over my initial inability to get into it. After about 30 pages I set it aside. And there it sat for months until, as part of my nightstand TBR pile clean-up I gave it another go. I fear that if it hadn’t been part of my clean-up efforts I might have just put it back on the shelf thinking I didn’t like it as much as I used to. And that would have been a tragedy.

I found this book as haunting, beautiful, depressing, and brilliant this time around as I did the first time. What is amazing is that, although I liked it just as much as the first time, it could have been a different book. There is so much that I didn’t remember about this 162-page novel it was like reading for the first time.

Here are some random thoughts:

  • Imagine On Chesil Beach meets The Grapes of Wrath meets Main Street meets Anita Brookner.
  • Smalltown, dust bowl-era Saskatchewan.
  • Thirty-something, poor preacher (and frustrated artist) and his long suffering wife.
  • There are no two dimensional characters in this short book. Everyone who walks across the pages is a nuanced, fully formed human. Some are good and some are evil, but none purely so.
  • Written in diary format from the point of view of the wife. I think Ross does an amazing job capturing the female voice, especially for 1941. Granted, I only see this through my own male lens, but I read so much fiction by females I do feel somewhat qualified to comment. I think he paints an accurate portrait of how enforced gender roles made (and make) for some pretty miserable circumstances.
  • I have harped a lot over the years about epistolary novels that include too much quoted dialogue. And in comments about other technical annoyances in a Julia Glass novel a commenter here on My Porch told me that I probably wouldn’t have noticed the technical faults if the book had been better. I think As For Me and My House proves that point. It is so well written that I didn’t even think about the dialogue quoted in the diary entries until after I had finished and was reading the introduction to edition I read. Ross does use quoted dialogue in the entries, but they didn’t bother me one bit.
  • Although this a pretty darn quiet novel, there are plot points I had forgotten that really blew me away.

More people need to read this book.   

Book Review: Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope


Phineas Finn is the second volume of the six-volume Palliser series by Anthony Trollope. Just as the  Barsetshire series is Trollope’s extended depiction of life in and around the church, the Palliser series is his extended look at the political milieu at the time. I am a huge fan of the Barsetshire books, but it is still too early to say what I think of the Palliser books. I quite liked the first volume: Can You Forgive Her? (I could and I did), but overall I was much less enthusiastic about Phineas Finn. It has all the tell-tale signs of a Trollope novel: social intricacies, matrimonial machinations, and lots of talk about how much people live on per annum. Truth be told, the discussions about the incomes of various characters is probably the thing I like best about Trollope. Like a Victorian era spread sheet in narrative form. I love the details.

Yes, but what does this have to do with Casey Kasem?
And of course as with many a Trollope novel issues of income invariably also deal with issues of the plight of women and their state-forced reliance on men. I wonder if Trollope is an accidental feminist or if he really did ponder the gender inequity of his day? Although, how archaic and interesting this week to read that the Commonwealth has finally voted to change the line of royal succession. If ratified by each of the member countries the British line of succession will finally allow the crown to pass to the eldest child of the monarch regardless of gender. This would take Anne, the Princess Royal from being 10th in line to being 4th in line (after Charles, William, and Henry). Which makes me want to imitate Casey Kasem…”this week in the countdown, the Princess Royal moves up to the number four spot which brings us to our long distance dedication of the week…

Casey Kasem

In the end, Phineas Finn, was not as enjoyable for me as the Barsetshire series because of the politics. It was just old enough and foreign enough to me that I often found myself confused. After a time of trying to figure it all out I just decided that part didn’t matter and I should just focus on the relationships and who makes what. Even then, I had a hard time really believing in Phineas’ professed love for the woman he eventually marries. It didn’t quite fit for me. I am, however, looking forward to see how it turns out in the fourth volume which is called Phineas Redux.

It you haven’t read Trollope start with the first of The Warden, the first
of the Barsetshire novels.

This is the set I own.

I Discovered I’m Ambivalent About Daphne


Had Simon and Polly not hosted Discovery Daphne this month, I am not sure I would have ever picked her up. I have already told that story, but even setting aside my unfounded anti-Daphne bias from high school I am not sure I would have ever gotten around to her.

If you would have asked me after Hungry Hill–my first du Maurier which I finished earlier this month–I don’t think I would have been too positive about her.  Certainly nothing wrong with Hungry Hill. A perfectly acceptable and readable multi-generational family tale. But also nothing that made much of an impression.

So how do I feel now that I have finished Rebecca? Well, at the risk of annoying lots of readers and bloggers whose reading tastes I respect and often share, I’m left wondering what all the fuss is about. My reactions as I experienced them (and spoilers galore):

1. I almost gave up three different times trying to get through the first ten pages. Something overly flowery or impressionistic, or something I couldn’t ever put my finger on. It wasn’t until the unnamed narrator (let’s call her Miss Narrator) mentioned Mrs. Van Hopper that I began to feel like I may want to continue.

2. My interest deepened as I began to read more about Miss Narrator’s role as a paid companion to the rich American Mrs. Van Hopper. It felt promising. Like she was going to break free from her depressing future. And when she started to be courted by Mr. de Winter I started to care about her and what happened to her.

3. There was a scene where Miss N and Mr. de Winter are riding about the coast in his car. Something in this scene struck a chord with me that made me glimpse some part of my past and gave me a kind of happy/sad nostolgic groove.

4. And I certainly got caught up in the excitement of Miss N marrying Mr. de Winter and leaving her drudgery behind her. But my joy turned to annoyance when she gets to Manderly and seems completely incapable of adjusting to her new situation. Sure, a young twenty-something is going to be clueless about many things about being in a relationship with a man 20 years her senior. But I feel like a character like Miss N who was making her way in the world as a paid companion of rich gentleladies would  have better perspective on the ways of society. She certainly seemed perceptive enough when it came to the follies of Mrs. Van Hopper’s social climbing. And her frequent daydreams about what she thought people thought of her certainly indicated that she was perceptive, yet she seemed utterly clueless about how to steel herself against the situation. I guess maybe I am blaming the victim, but it annoyed me nonetheless.

5. I also felt like Miss N should have been more up to the challenge of her situation at Manderly given that she could have still been at the beck and call of Mrs. Van Hopper.

6. Everyone’s Rebecca obssession was just way too over the top. Rebecca this, Rebecca that. Yeah we get it Daphne, you want us to understand how fantastic Rebecca was. My annoyance was only exacerbated by the fact that millions of pages later du Maurier lets us know that Rebecca was actually a big ol’ bitch of a liar. And I get the fact that Miss N’s problem was that she projected way too much of her own insecurities on both Max and the others who did (or seemed to) worship Rebecca.

7. Despite all of her imagined scenarios about what people thought, Miss N takes way too much at face value. After having experienced a bit of life in Monte Carlo, did it never occur to her that Mrs Danvers was overstepping her bounds in a million different ways? I am not saying Miss N should have had the courage to tell Mrs D to go fuck off but she could have at least imagined that scenario. God knows she imagined everything else.

7a. And why in the world would she take Mrs. Danvers’ advice about what to wear for the fancy dress ball. She knew how freaky deaky Mrs D was by that point, why in the world would she listen to her at that point.

8. At some point when I figured out something in the plot sooner than I was probably supposed to, I did skim about 30 pages or so until it actually happened. I wish I could remember what the plot point was…

9. I should also admit, however, that once Rebecca’s body was found I did find it to be quite the page turner until the end of the book.

10. Why are we supposed to accept that Frank, Miss N and the Colonel are all okey dokey with the fact that Max killed Rebecca? Really? Max didn’t know she had terminal cancer when he killed her so even after we learn that fact it doesn’t exonerate him. at all

11. I did enjoy the ups and downs of the investigation, vacillating between wanting Max to get caught and wanting him to get away with it.

12. Are we supposed to feel something when Manderly goes up in flames? Dude, you just got away with murder, a torched house seems like a small price to pay. It would have been better if the deranged Lesbianic Mrs Danvers dressed as Rebecca had slit your throat and then set the place on fire. Or she could have made Miss N dress as Rebecca, made out with her, and then forced her to kill Max. I mean, you want creepy, gothic? Lets really make it a Halloween mess up in there.

As you can see there were a few things about the book I enjoyed but the annoying bits kind of neutralize them. In the end my overall feeling is ambivalence. I think I would  have to be pretty bored to pick up another du Maurier. Just not my cup of tea.

Book Review: In Pursuit of the English by Doris Lessing


Doris Lessing is one of those authors you think you should read. I had a vague notion that I wanted to read something by her, but never got around to it until she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007.  I knew that her magnum opus was The Golden Notebook, but I didn’t tackle that door stop until after I had read a few of her shorter books. The first one I tried was The Summer Before the Dark and found it to be quite accessible and enjoyable. Then I moved onto The Fifth Child which was riveting and more than a little disturbing. And then I moved onto The Golden Notebook which was mostly worth the effort but didn’t do much to endear itself to me.

And now here I am having finished In Pursuit of the English. For some reason this work, published in 1960–two years prior to The Golden Notebook, does not appear on wikipedia. Oh wait there it is, but it is listed under non-fiction. There is nothing about this book that reads like non-fiction and I read the whole thing thinking it was a novel.  How weird. It tells the story of a woman of European descent moving from Zimbabwe to London just after World War II. So now that I know it is fiction, I assume it is autobiographical. But wait, wikipedia doesn’t list it under autobiography but under “Other non-fiction”. What in the heck does that mean? Especially since it is written in the first person. Very confusing–not when I read it, but now that I am trying to figure it out.

Did I like it? Kind of. I liked the earlier parts of it that dealt with leaving Africa and arriving in London. But I was a little surprised that it took me so long to get through its 237 pages. There was something about it that dragged for me. I got hints of some of the psycho-political themes that would be endlessly explored in The Golden Notebook. I am beginning to think that Lessing may not always be for me. I have a few more her titles floating around my TBR shelves This experience knocks them a bit down the priority list.

If you would like to be able to say that you have read Lessing but don’t want to suffer through The Golden Notebook, try The Summer Before the Dark or even The Fifth Child.