BRITISH AUTHOR CHALLENGE OCTOBER 2015 - DUNMORE & MITCHELL
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Yorkshire born like myself, Helen Dunmore was the inaugural winner of the Women's Prize in 1996 for A Spell in Winter. Regarded as a very versatile writer she has published thirteen adult novels, poetry and children's literature.
A War of the Roses battle this month. Mitchell was born in Southport in Merseyside (previously Lancashire) and spent 8 years teaching in Japan. This influence is clear in his writing and he is sort of a British Murakami if there is such a thing. Six novels all lauded are available to the group in October.
I have read her first two novels and liked the second one especially. I am planning to read The Siege which had been nominated for the Orange Prize and the Whitbread Prize but won neither.
I loved the first 2/3rds of Ghostwritten and will probably read his second novel number9dream which was Booker nominated.
I tried to listen to Black Swan Green in the recorded version and didn't like it very much. In fact, I quit listening to it when I was about half done. It was a disappointment to me because I have read a couple of David Mitchell books and liked them. I might have expected to much from this, but it certainly wasn't any Cloud Atlas, in my opinion.
Next up will be The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (having previously read Cloud Atlas and Bone Clocks) - I'm looking forward to it!
I just finished reading The Bone Clocks which I loved and which combines elements of the earlier
"puzzle" novels, as well as the straight-forward narrative fiction, although it also includes a lot of fantasy (which I don't usually like) elements. One interesting thing in The Bone Clocks is that various characters from his previous novels make cameo appearances.
Despite being lukewarm to Black Swan Green, Mitchell is one of my favorite authors, and I'm looking forward to his next book Slade House.
I would have sworn I had a copy of The Siege around here somewhere but I seem not to have. So, I'll start with David Mitchell. I'm having a hard time deciding between Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, a lovely dilemma with which to be faced.
Oh, and I have Number 9 Dream on the TBR shelves, too...
"The Valium's throbbing in my fingertips now, and the sunlight's a harpist. Fallen leaves on the shaved lawn are shaped like tiny fans."
Slade House, I am happy to report, grabbed me immediately. Mr. Mitchell is a treasure.
I may pick up Black Swan Green this month too as haven't read anything beyond Jacob de Zoet by Mitchell yet and need to remedy to that.
I love that term "comfort reading." That is also what I am in need of right now. Just to get lost in a book that takes me away but doesn't make me sad or depressed. I am glad that Dunmore's book has done that for you.
I plan on starting House of Orphans as soon as I finish the book I am reading for my real life book discussion group.
I'm greatly enjoying Black Swan Green so far, only my second David Mitchell after Jacob de Zoet, which seems ages ago. I wanted to read Cloud Atlas, but it was difficult to fit in, so glad I'm getting a dose of this author via a very well narrated audiobook with Kirby Heyborne doing what I think is a decent English accent (though of course only an English person could tell me how accurate it is).
The sixth narrative, "Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After", I hate, hate, hate! It took me longer to read that one section that it did all the others combined!
I thought the style of Cloud Atlas was hard to figure out and I know that there were parts of the story I missed. For instance, I never figured out that the comet shaped birthmark was important. I keep telling myself that I will reread this book, but don't get around to doing so. I loved the Orison story as well. But I also liked some of the others in the book. Overall, I thought the novel was brillant - but demanding of the reader.
I just ordered the Ingo series for the library. I didn't know about them, but thanks to the BAC I discovered them and got them ordered.
"I look at the house, still and breathless in the frost. I have got what I wanted. A spell of winter hangs over it, and everyone has gone."
^ A Spell of Winter. I am 50 pages in and I really like it so far.
Managed to finish off The Bone Clocks this morning. Convoluted and slightly crazy as the tale is it is also a showcase for the amazing imagination Mitchell brings to bear upon his fiction.
I have read two books by Mitchell that I liked (Cloud Atlas I thought this one was wonderful and Thousand Autumns) and junked a third Black Swan Green. Could it be that I have already read the best that Mitchell has to offer?
Sometime in the next week I plan on starting House of Orphans by Helen Dunmore. I will be months behind other readers but I do hope to get something by Dunmore read this year.
This novel is part historical fiction and part social statement. The author did end the novel with one shopworn plot trick that was not needed and that as a reader I did not appreciate but other than that, this was a novel well worth reading and I am glad that the BAC finally got me to read one of Dunmore's novels.