Altered States by Anita Brookner is a excellent novel of the ‘repressed, English, and unreliable’ genre perfected by authors like Kazuo Ishiguro. It follows solicitor Alan Sherwood, his failed marriage, his blended family and the object of his obsession.
This is the first time I’m reviewing a book I’m uncertain whether to recommend. The Passport is a slim novella by Nobel Prize Winner Herta Müller. I bought it at an antiques place, aged paper sandwiched between blue and white ceramic plates and tarnished hand saws. (spoilers)
This review is of Make do and Mend (Keeping Family and Home Afloat on War Rations). It is a collection of delightfully reproduced WW2 leaflets, with a foreword by Jill Norman. It’s a beautiful snapshot of the past. It can be easy to romanticise the wartime era, and think that everyone knew how to sew, cook and fix their homes. In reality, the much lauded ‘Blitz Spirit’ was formed and reinforced with a lot of propaganda and hand holding. This included classes, radio shows and detailed leaflets. The leaflets covered home maintenance, fuel conservation, and tips on how to wash, store, and mend clothing.
They could even help you learn how to make do and mend today!
Money saving expert Martin Lewis begins Thrifty Ways for Modern Days by explaining that this is a crowd sourced book. He gives all credit to his resourceful forumites, on the Old Style Board.
He explains he himself is not an old-styler, as it is a lifestyle, not just an adjustment. He recommends it for people who *need* to do it, due to debt or unemployment, and for people who want to live a greener, thriftier lifestyle. The book is divided into cleaning, shopping, fashion, DIY, special occasions, presents, growing your own and recipes.
Sweet Bird of Youth is a 1959 play by Tennessee Williams. Most of the play takes place in the Royal Palms Hotel, an “old fashioned but still fashionable” hotel in St. Cloud, on the Gulf Coast.
Chance Wayne is first introduced wearing the classic Williams trope; white silk pyjamas. He starts the day with a cigarette and a ‘bromo’; an alka seltzer hangover remedy. The waiter has to mix it for him, due to his hands shaking, due to his alcohol consumption the night before.
An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro, is a beautiful, hazy portrait of life in post war Japan. It explores generational tension, changing social mores, guilt and atonement. It is also another excellent example of the unreliable narrator, a trope of Ishiguro’s work.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is a tale of beauty, race and social ostracism. It takes place in Lorain, Ohio and centres on the destruction of a vulnerable little girl who believes herself to be ugly.
Ragle Gumm is an ordinary man lives with his sister’s family in a sleepy suburban 1950s town. He makes a living by winning a newspaper contest over and over again. He dallies with his neighbour and plots where the Little Green Man will be Next, but starts to realise all is not well. This is how Time out of Joint, by Philip K Dick, begins.
What Remains of Edith Finch is a beautiful, haunting tale exploring the death and tragedy surrounding the Finch family.
Edith has returned to her family’s abandoned home off the coast of the state of Washington following her mother’s death. The tale shows Edith discovering their history through exploration of sealed bedrooms / shrines, all with voyeuristic peepholes.
An interweaving tale of two entrapped women; a suicidal noblewoman with no purpose and an imprisoned spiritualist claiming innocence. Reality, voice and oppression – not to mention manipulation – are the key themes in this stunning lesbian Victorian ghost story. A rich, beautiful, haunting novel by an excellent author, set in the late 19th century.