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November general fiction

These are the fiction books, other than SF and comics, and including Shakepeare plays, which I have read in each November since I started bookblogging in 2003:

2003
None

2004
Atonement, by Ian McEwan
The Scheme for Full Employment, by Magnus Mills
The Man Who Was Thursday, by G.K. Chesterton
The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson
The Distant Past, by William Trevor
The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith
Tears of the Giraffe, by Alexander McCall Smith

2005
The Days of the Consuls (aka Travnik Chronicle), by Ivo Andrić

2006
None

2007
The Steep Approach to Garbadale, by Iain Banks
Oscar and Lucinda, by Peter Carey

2008
The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett
Emma, by Jane Austen
The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare
Henry IV Part 1, by William Shakespeare
Henry IV Part 2, by William Shakespeare

2009
Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
The Black Book, by Ian Rankin
Notre Dame de Paris (aka The Hunchback of Notre Dame), by Victor Hugo
Medea, by Euripides
Nature Girl, by Carl Hiaasen
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

2010
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantell
The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory
The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai

2011
Ivanhoe, by Walter Scott
Moll Flanders, by Daniel Defoe
Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier
The Death of Ivan Ilyich, by Leo Tolstoy
The Private Eye Annual 2008, edited by Ian Hislop (belongs in this category I suppose)

It's funny how little I remember about some of them - The Distant Past left me pretty cold anyway, but from the blog I appear to have enjoyed The Steep Approach to Garbadale and now can't recall a single thing about it. Anyway, my top five recommendations are:

The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson
Before reading this, I knew Jansson only as the author of the wonderful Moomin books. But it turns out that she was a brilliant and compassionate cartographer of love and affection as well, with a keen eye for island landscapes. A lovely book.

The Days of the Consuls (aka Travnik Chronicle), by Ivo Andric
One of those books about the Balkans which everyone recommends but few have actually read, which is a shame; quite a layered and sympathetic story of diplomats and townspeople in Bosnia during the Napoleon wars, which is more than the sum of its parts.

Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did; a lyrical exploration, both geographical and psychological, of Black life in the United States - without the Biblical reference one might expect from the title.

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantell
Possibly unfair that I read this at the same time as the far inferior The Other Boleyn Girl, but I think it more than stands up on its own as a densely written, detailed historical and psychological study on Thomas Cromwell, one of Henry VIII's key courtiers. I see the sequel is out so suspect I will reread this before reading it.

Moll Flanders, by Daniel Defoe
Brilliant tale of a woman two hundred years after Thomas Cromwell, making a living by various unseemly methods in the streets of London, the countryside, and ultimately America, at one point accidentally marrying her own brother (as you do), with rich social commentary.

Honourable mentions
Atonement, by Ian McEwan
The Man Who Was Thursday, by G.K. Chesterton
The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
The Death of Ivan Ilyich, by Leo Tolstoy

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Comments

inulro
Nov. 9th, 2012 04:22 pm (UTC)
Steep Approach - sort of a grown-up Crow Road, from what I recall. I also loved it but can't remember it now. Then again, I can't remember what I read last month, so that's hardly surprising.

Wolf Hall - I haven't read it yet, but having read one other Mantel and (unfortunately) The Other Boleyn Girl, I'd say that Wolf Hall is indeed by far the superior work.

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