The past month was another good month of reading with some solid recommendations finding their way into my March Reading List. I'd venture that My Year of Rest and Relaxation is one of the best books I’ve read in the past twelve months. I finally got round to reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and it totally lived up to the hype. The Hunting Party is a classic "whodunnit" thriller that will keep you gripped to the end. Adele is a book that I didn't enjoy reading all that much but at the same time found fascinating and would one hundred per cent recommend. I hummed and hawed on including China Rich Girlfriend, the second installment of Kevin Kwan's trilogy but include it I did. And lastly, I listened to Michael Palin's Around the World in Eight Days on Audible and loved it.
So here goes, my March Reading List which I can safely say is quite the mixed bag. If you have read any of these books already, please let me know what you thought. And as usual, if you have any recommendations, please send them my way.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Go get this book and read it immediately. It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s refreshing and I’m not sure I’ve ever come across a female character portrayed in this way.
Set in Manhattan in 2000/2001, the main character is a recently orphaned 20-something living on her inheritance. She believes that by sleeping for long enough, aided by a cocktail of pharmaceuticals she will emerge transformed. A new woman. She’s aided in this my her questionable doctor who is trigger happy when it comes to prescriptions. This may all sound odd and bizarre and that's because it is. But it’s also highly entertaining to read and offers accutely accurate observations on contemporary society. Even though it's set almost twenty years ago. it feels current. I screenshot so many passages from this book to come back to re-read and think about again. Forget about inspirational Instagram quotes. Quotes from this book is where it's at.
Note I read this book in January but forgot to include it in February's Reading List, so here it is popping up as my first recommendation in my March Reading List.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Yes, I do feel like I’m the last person to read this book so I’m not quite sure if this is a recommendation or rather me joining in the Eleanor Oliphant hype. Ths novel tells the story of loneliness, childhood tragedy and social isolation in a way that isn't oppresive or overbearing, but with a humour and tenderness that makes this book very easy to read.
Eleanor Oliphant lives alone in Glasgow, her only social interactions being with her work colleages and a weekly telephone call with her mother. The book tracks Eleanor's slow journey from isolation and loneliness to successful social integration. She has been through a lot and struggles with a dramatic event from her childhood. But a chance friendship with a work colleague ends up transforming her and her view of others. Even though this book is about loneliness by the time I finished reading it, there was a real feel good factor. It's funny, sad and heartwarming all at the same time. Almost all the characters are kind people and try to do the right thing. As Eleanor realises this, the reader is also reminded that for the most part, people are fundamentally good and kind to others.
There’s been so much hype about this book, and now that I’ve read it I get it.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
I love a good suspense novel, especially one that's well told and has all the elements of a classic thriller. Sometimes it's good to stick to a winning formua and The Hunting Party does just that, ensuring a grippng read that has all the elements of an intriguing "whodunnit" mystery.
What starts as a trip away for New Year's Eve for a group of old university friends ends in tragedy when one is discovered dead. The narrative moves back and forth between the group's arrival at a remote Scottish hunting lodge on December 30 and the discovery of a body three days later. The characters are sufficiently annoying to ensure that you don't really care all that much who is murdered and who did the murdering. While at times the story feels a little formulaic, The Huntng Party is a classic thriller complete with suspense and intrigue and relationships that’s aren’t always as they seems.
If you are after a curl-up-on-the-sofa thriller that’s a quick and gripping read, well I think The Hunting Party might be a good option for you.
Adèle by Leïla Slimani
Adèle is French author Leïla Slimani's second novel. Adèle is a thirty year old journalist living in Paris with her surgeon husband and yound son. While appearing to have the perfect life, she suffers from an addiction to sex and is consumed with having sex with many men, preferable those that she doesn't share any intimacy with. She lies to her husband, her co-workers and friends to facilitate her addiction.
It's an unusual story to read in this age as it's a story of a woman who is a liar and by all accounts a bad person judging by the standards of today's society. On the surface her life appears perfect but she is bored with her marriage, motherhood and work. We are forced to ask ourselves whether his makes her a bad person? It's also unusual in that the sex she craves is quite passive from her perspective. While we might expect a character like Adele to be empowered and to want to control her sexual relatihonships. instead she wants to be objectiffied and passive in the relaionships she pursues.
This is a short novel and I think this is a god thing. I didn't like Adele and I didn't particularly like her husband either. I didn't like how her sexual relationships are depicted. However, I found the representation of her dissatisfaction with her seemingly perfect life fascinating especially how she sought out casual objectified sex as oppossed to any sense of epowerment as a means to deal with this dissatisfaction.
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
I hummed and hawed about including China Rich Girlfriend in this month's Reading list. It's the second installement in Kevin Kwan's fictional trilogy telling the story of some of Asia's most outrageiously wealthy families. I read the first installment, Crazy Rich Asians last year and loved it. It was gossipy, glamourous, silly but above all very entertaining. The film version had me at the cinema in the middlee of a rainy Thursday afternoon thorourgly entertained.
China Rich Girlfriend us set two years after the events in Crazy Rich Asians and doubles down on the eye watering wealth, and shameless social climbing. The story doesn't just border on the ridiculous, it goes way beyond bordering on the ridculous and moves into full on crazy. If you enjoyed Crazy Risch Asians, it's worth a read if you have some spare reading time on your hands. The book could probably have done with being about a hundred pages shorter and I found myself skimming though some of the scenes that included unnessesary detail that didn't benefit the story and just made it seemed a little dragged out at times.
PS: A big thank you to the kind person who sent me this book along with the third installement
And just a quick note about Around the World in Eighty Days by Michael Palin which I listened to on Audible. In this book, Michael Palin attempts to follow in the footsteps of Phileas Fogg, by trying to travel around the world in 80 days without resort to air travel. I enjoyed every minute of it probably becuase I have a major fond spot for Michael Palin and his unique talent to tell a story. It's also a TV series that I have high up on my 'to-watch' list.