I started this blog in 2013 to share my reflections on reading, writing and psychology, along with my journey to become a published novelist. I soon graduated to about twenty book reviews a month and a weekly 99-word story. Ten years later, I've transferred my writing / publication updates to my new website but will continue here with occasional reviews and flash fiction pieces, and maybe the odd personal post.
I’m sharing my thoughts on two historical novels I’ve read recently, both featuring young women struggling to survive against the odds. The first is set in England in the 1660s, the second in Italy a century earlier.
August is women in translation month, a time when readers prioritise books by women in translation – yes, it does what it says on the tin! – and I share the qualifying books I’ve read over the last twelve months. This year’s dozen represents nine languages (two up from last year) – Bosnian, Catalan, Danish, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Portuguese, Spanish – and six publishers (Bloomsbury, Charco Press, Europa editions x3, Maclehose Press x 2, Peirene Press x 3, Quercus).
Here I share one new review, summaries and links to reviews I’ve published over the last twelve months, plus mentions of three I didn’t get round to reviewing.
There must be more than six degrees of separation between a boy who attends his oxen in rural Thailand and a contemporary social media influencer in the USA. But the farmer could be one steppingstone between them and the writer a link from the other end. The tour guide could be the bridge in the middle because they might need to shit in the woods. What am I on about? The answer is in these five mini reviews.
Two novels about a difficult patch in a long marriage, complicated by difficult relationships with the couples’ offspring. The first is the best book I’ve read so far this year. The second, by a more famous author, doesn’t come anywhere near.
Here are reviews of two different types of English political novel. The first is contemporary and addresses how political events impact on an ordinary London family. The second is a historical novel that gets right to the heart of one of the most turbulent periods of British history.
Overburdened: The Plimsoll Line, Starling Days, Cat and the Dreamer, Unsettled Ground & Sorrow and Bliss
Five recent reads about characters facing life challenges that are almost too much to bear: bereavement; chronic illness; relationship crises and more. See what you think.
I think there is a deep-seated fear and resentment of female power even in situations where we don’t have much of it, so I make no apologies for grouping these novels that touch on the theme from vastly different angles. The first is a historical novel about misogyny manifest in a fantasy of witchcraft. In the second, three half-sisters are haunted by the harm done when they tried to claim their power in adolescence. In the third, a seemingly powerless and self-loathing woman takes a tortured journey through her city and her mistakes. The final novel contemplates the relative power of the singer with a rock band versus the homemaker wife who stands by her man.
I’ve recently read two very different novels in which traumatised mothers suffer a second blow in being distanced from both their children, albeit the separation is for very good reasons. The first is a translation set against the backdrop of the Rwandan genocide. The tragedy in the second is less widespread, restricted to one particular family, but nevertheless extremely painful for those concerned. Read on to discover how these books are about so much more.
History, humour, testimony, short stories and dystopia: there’s something for everyone in these 9 new mini reviews (and 1 mention)
My final two reviews of 2022 are tenuously linked by being set in closed communities in which unempathic people hold vulnerable creatures in their power. I refer to creatures less because the staff of the nightmare care home in the first novel don’t seem to regard their charges as human and more because the inmates of the second – where the compassion of the lowliest employee almost compensates for the attitude of her senior colleagues – are dolphins.
Two novels about the shit that can happen when you’re Black and gender nonconforming that also acknowledge the joy of living true to oneself.
I’m busy working towards the publication of my next novel, Lyrics for the Loved Ones, the sequel to Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, in May 2023. It’s set mostly in a care home leading up to, and in the early weeks of, the pandemic. So I’m happy to showcase a couple of other novels on the theme, with the bonus that they feature places I’ve been. The first is set during the second UK lockdown in November 2020; the second in North and South America when the world closed down in March that year.
I’ve linked these two very different novels via the theme of compromised freedom, partly because that’s how I feel myself right now. In the first, an elderly widow frees herself from pity by casting a stranger as her grandson but fears being found out. In the second, women are magically freed from misogyny at a cost of losing the men and boys they love.
Allow me to introduce two novels about the marginalisation of women’s experience: the first set in sixteenth century Strasbourg where the church rules hearts and minds; the second in contemporary a South Africa grappling with its colonial past. Both include a scene of arson, but that is not the worst of the violence.
entertaining fiction about identity, mental health and social justice
Anne Goodwin's books on Goodreads
Sugar and Snails
ratings: 52 (avg rating 4.21)
ratings: 60 (avg rating 3.17)
ratings: 9 (avg rating 4.56)
GUD: Greatest Uncommon Denominator, Issue 4
ratings: 9 (avg rating 4.44)
The Best of Fiction on the Web
ratings: 3 (avg rating 4.67)
Annecdotal is where real life brushes up against the fictional.
Annecdotist is the blogging persona of Anne Goodwin:
slug-slayer, tramper of moors,
author of three fiction books.
LATEST POSTS HERE
I don't post to a schedule, but average around ten reviews a month (see here for an alphabetical list),
some linked to a weekly flash fiction, plus posts on my WIPs and published books.
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