Well the weather is sunny here in London but all else seems much awry. Are we facing a whole summer in lockdown? With closed bookshops? I very much hope not.
The good news is that I have discovered that my local bookshop is still doing deliveries – it took me weeks to have the commonsense to check their website to find out. I am so over buying things from certain online giants who shall remain nameless that I’m only reading real books from now on!
Here is a look at some of my planned summer reads. These books are from the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 #ReadingWomenChallenge which includes both suggested reads and books from the 2020 prize shortlist. It’s an exciting list.
From the 2020 prize shortlist, I will not be reading the third book in Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy The Mirror and the Light because I haven’t yet read the second book.
Some of their suggested books I have already read:
- Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin which I read some years ago and is shattering and iconic and I don’t think I could add anything to the reams that have already been written about it.
- Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna which I adored and preferred to her more recent books Flight Behaviour and Unsheltered, the latter reviewed here.
- I have already reviewed Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo here.
So here are my TBR’s from the Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist for 2020.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ((Fourth Estate) 2006
This book is so famous I can’t believe I haven’t got to it yet. I am now rectifying that mistake. The story is set in Nigeria in the 1960s against the backdrop of approaching civil war. I am only a couple of chapters in but I already love the compelling character of the house boy, Ugwu, Odenigbo the man he calls Master, and the elegant soon to be arriving Olanna. There is a palpable atmosphere about the early chapters and I look forward to learning much about Africa through the story.
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (Wiedenfield & Nicholson) 2011
The sound of this storyline is intriguing. There is an intergenerational mystery which is always a winner with me. When a tiger escapes from the local zoo – what happened to the boy who refused to be terrified of the escaped tiger? His grandaughter would very much like to know. Her investigations will, apparently, lead her to a tattered copy of The Jungle Book …
This is also partly a war time story set during the conflict in the Balkans.
“I’m told that the tiger was first sighted on the Galina ridge, above town, during a snowstorm at the end of December. Who knows how long he had already been there, hiding in the hollows of fallen trees…”
Natalie Haynes, A Thousand Ships (Mantle) 2019
Natalie Haynes gives voice to all the women – not just the famous Helen – whose lives were affected by the fall of Troy. No longer are women the minor characters in the stories of men.
The blurb reads:
In the middle of the night, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greems and the Trojans are over, and the Greeks are victorious. Over the next few hours, the only life she has ever known will turn to ash….
If and when I can get copies, I will add other shortlisted titles including:
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farell
Weather by Jenny Offill
Dominicana by Angie Cruz.
and hope to announce my own winner before the Judges decide in the Autumn.