This year I read the Hunger Games and loved it very, very much. I also read 50 Shades of Grey and loved it not so much. But I only really read the naughty bits. I prefer Mills and Boon or Jilly Cooper! I have also been devouring fiction in between. The kind of fiction that we stock in our rather small fiction collections at work (health libraries often will have a time out collection for staff). I have been reading Richard and Judy book club books like they are going out of fashion. Having my head stuck in a story is still as appealing to me now as it has ever been.
This month I also read The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes which was awarded the 2011 Man Booker prize. I had hesitated reading it for some reason but I actually really enjoyed it. The narrative reminded me slightly of The Secret History by Donna Tartt but this is probably just because it had a retrospective stance looking back at the school days of a small group of friends. Read The Secret History as well. It is great and an entirely different book.
I think I possibly need to read The Sense of an Ending again as it is one of those stories where tiny details are embedded so deep into the narrative that may not be essential to the plot per se but could possibly enrich your experience to the extent that the book leaves you in a heady daze. It's all about the tiny detail. That final flourish! This book made me laugh out loud which I was not expecting. I also had not managed to make the connection that it is the same Julian Barnes who wrote Flaubert's Parrot which I read during my English degree.
Which brings me on nicely to The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (he wrote The Virgin Suicides) which is quite simply the kind of book that I would have obsessed over when I was 20. It even mentions Colette on the first page. I wrote my first degree dissertation on Colette and loved getting lost with Claudine in France during my formative years. The heroine of The Marriage Plot Madeleine is also an English major and the book goes into quite a lot of detail about Barthes and other literary criticism that took me back to those glorious days! It is also a love story. Her very own marriage plot. (The marriage plot referring to Austen type plots where the focus is on the heroine getting married). I enjoyed the description of the American university system and felt a sense of longing for those days. By the end of the plot Madeleine and her two suitors Leonard and Mitchell are still lacking any sense of direction or resolve which I feel mirrors my own arts graduate experience. But English degrees aren't supposed to give you either of these things anyway. They give you so much more! Okay probably best leave it at that.