If you’re just interested in the list, let’s kick off with that.
- The Atmospherians, by Alex McElroy (Atria Books, released May 18, 2021)
- Happening, by Annie Ernaux (Seven Stories Press)
- Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson (Persephone Books)
- The Voice in my Ear, by Frances Leviston (Jonathan Cape)
- The Twisted Ones, by T. Kingfisher (Simon & Schuster)
- The Fran Lebowitz Reader (Random House)
- All The Murmuring Bones, by A.G. Slatter (Titan Books, released March 9, 2021)
This was the month I got back into audiobooks. I only listen in quick snatches here and there, so can’t really manage anything too involved, because I literally lose the plot. So the Fran Lebowitz Reader was perfect, as it’s a collection of her short, witty, hilarious essays. I love her voice too; she has a great tone. I was never too familiar with Lebowitz’s work, but she popped up on the fantastic documentary, The Booksellers, with a killer story about David Bowie. And with her new series on Netflix, Pretend it’s a City, there is absolutely no reason to not fall in love with this hilarious, smart, thoughtful woman.
I also finally checked out The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher, after being blown away last year by the terrifying The Hollow Places. The Twisted Ones and The Hollow Places contain similar tropes: woman is given an arduous task in a strange location by a member of her family, said woman has a dog sidekick, gains human sidekick along the way, weird stuff happens. Kingfisher is fantastic at creating truly horrifying images that sear into your brain. And there was a lot of action, which made me want to keep coming back to the audiobook. I prefered The Hollow Places, but I cannot wait to see what Kingfisher dreams up next.
I’m trying to balance my horror reading with something “nice”. I have developed a perfectly healthy obsession with Barbara Comyns, and in a roundabout way have come to find Persephone Books, which specializes in publishing underappreciated books by female writers. Which is how I found Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. It’s an incredibly sweet novel about a downtrodden woman, who meets a young female entertainer, and is temporarily whisked into a world of scandal and intrigue. Miss Pettigrew fits in surprisingly well. It’s a very light read, and interesting to learn it got made into a movie, with a very impressive cast.
I came to Annie Ernaux’s abortion memoir Happening via the movie, Portrait of a Lady on Fire. I picked the book up one Sunday night, thinking I’d flip through a few pages before nodding off, but ended up finishing it in one sitting. This is an incredibly vital book, and shows that we haven’t made as much progress as we’d like to think in the last few decades. It is harrowing, but crucial. Stories like this need to be told, and loudly. Abortion is normal and necessary, and no woman should have to put her life at risk to acquire one. Everyone should read this book.
The run of British women writing incredible short story collections continues, with Frances Leviston’s The Voice in my Ear. Each story centers around a character called Claire (a different Claire for each story), and covers ground such as public failure, lost youth, robot butlers, and complex family relationships. Leviston captures a certain type of working class, British, mother and adult daughter relationship very well. I loved it. I’m very excited to have both Jo Lloyd and Alice Ash’s collections lined up next.
You can read my full review of The Atmospherians here, but needless to say I loved it, and I still think about it quite a lot.
I did an official review of Angela Slatter’s All The Mummering Bones over on my Goodreads and NetGalley. But allow me to get a little more informal. Oh my word, this BOOK! I’ve read some of Slatter’s short stories before, and she is a fantastic writer. If you love your horror with a twist of fantasy, and a pinch of fairy dust, Slatter is for you. Mummering Bones is the story of a badass central character, Miren, and her desire to break the bonds that tie her to her family’s (failing) reputation. It’s also chock-full of weird folk tales, murder, mer-people, and supernatural amazingness. I ordered all of Slatter’s back-catalog after reading this novel. I have been sleeping on Slatter and aim to make amends!
What an exciting February! Here are some of the books I hope to read in March:
- Sisters by a River, by Barbara Comyns (Virago)
- Where the Ghosts Are: The Ultimate Guide to Haunted Houses, by Hans Holzer (Tantor Audio)
- One Moonlit Night, by Caradog Prichard (New Directions, buddy read with the lovely Contrary Reader)
- Folklorn, by Angela Mi Young Our (Erewhon)
- Near the Bone, by Christina Henry (Berkley)
Plus, I’ll finally get my hands on The Last House on Needless Street, by Catriona Ward. I love Ward’s short stories, and Little Eve, so I’m ready to be blown away by this one.
Phew! I think that’s enough for now. What are you reading? What should I check out?