I’ve already looked at my favourite non-fiction books in 2022, Konstantin Paustovsky The Story of a Life and Chelsea Manning’s Readme.txt.
As well as these I loved This Rare Spirit, A Life of Charlotte Mew by Julia Copus
Selby Wynn Schwartz After Sappho is a feast and a delight for those who love to read about women who made lives for themselves without men when society told them they really couldn’t. Schwartz’ book celebrates women who were 20th century pioneers of painting and poetry and other careers. Florence Nightingale makes an appearance as does the actress/dancer Isadora Duncan and Virginia Woolf.
Woolf also appears in Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars by Francesca Wade a look at five writers who lived at one time or another in Mecklenburgh Square.
“At the turn of the twentieth century, Mecklenburgh Square was a radical address. And during the febrile years which encompassed the two world wars, it was home to the five women writers whose stories form this book.”
These fit in well with my current read The Story of Art (Without Men) by Katy Hessell and which I shall review in the New Year.
My favourite fiction of 2022 is probably Maggie O’Farrell’s The Marriage Portrait. I haven’t read a lot of fiction this year and I’ve been disappointed by some that I’ve read.
I haven’t really got my head around what I shall be reading next year. But here is a few from the publishers lists that have caught my eye.
This one is described as being for fans of The Secret History which is certainly me. Time will tell. Meanwhile here’s the blurb. Due out next year from Penguin.
Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, hoping to spend her summer working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she is assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval and Renaissance collections.
There she is drawn into a small circle of charismatic but enigmatic researchers, each with their own secrets and desires, including the museum’s curator, Patrick Roland, who is convinced that the history of Tarot holds the key to unlocking contemporary fortune telling.
Relieved to have left her troubled past behind and eager for the approval of her new colleagues, Ann is only too happy to indulge some of Patrick’s more outlandish theories. But when Ann discovers a mysterious, once-thought lost deck of 15th-century Italian tarot cards she suddenly finds herself at the centre of a dangerous game of power, toxic friendship and ambition.
And as the game being played within the Cloisters spirals out of control, Ann must decide whether she is truly able to defy the cards and shape her own future . . .
Bringing together the modern and the arcane, The Cloisters is a rich, thrillingly-told tale of obsession and the ruthless pursuit of power.
Except it isn’t. I’ve just found a Kirkus Review of this one – first it was published in November of this year! Secondly Kirkus Says: Readers might be better served by seeking out Arturo Pérez-Riverte’s The Club Dumas, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, or Tana French’s The Likeness.
Ah well, moving swiftly on.
From Fitzcarraldo Editions a translation from French:
I have read quite a few books from this publisher but looking at their forward lists they are becoming quite avant-garde. I’m thinking about this one.
The Birthday Party
Translated by Daniel Levin Becker
Buried deep in rural France, little remains of the isolated hamlet of
the Three Lone Girls, save a few houses and a curiously assembled
quartet: Patrice Bergogne, inheritor of his family’s farm; his wife,
Marion; their daughter, Ida; and their neighbour, Christine, an art–
ist. While Patrice plans a surprise for his wife’s fortieth birthday,
inexplicable events start to disrupt the hamlet’s quiet existence:
anonymous, menacing letters, an unfamiliar car rolling up the
driveway. And as night falls, strangers stalk the houses, unleashing
a nightmarish chain of events.
Told in rhythmic, propulsive prose that weaves seamlessly from
one consciousness to the next over the course of a day, Laurent
Mauvignier’s The Birthday Party is a deft unravelling of the sto–
ries we hide from others and from ourselves, a gripping tale of the
violent irruptions of the past into the present, written by a major
contemporary French writer.
SPARE, Prince Harry
How to be Royal and really hard done by and plotted against at the same time as well as making zillions complaining about it all.
As an ardent royalist who stood and watched the two boys walking behind Diana’s coffin, I never thought I would lose patience with the monarchy quite to this extent. Will I really read this? Probably not but I’m thinking about it. Here’s the blurb.
It was one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow–and horror. As Diana, Princess of Wales, was laid to rest, billions wondered what the princes must be thinking and feeling–and how their lives would play out from that point on
With its raw, unflinching honesty, Spare is a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.
A Memoir by Poet Don Paterson.
Toy Fights by Don Paterson
Toy Fights – the forthcoming memoir by Don Paterson – is named after the game kids used to play when Paterson was a boy growing up in late ’60s Dundee. Specifically, a game that the poet and writer had to avoid, as those playing it wanted to kill him. When he wasn’t dodging his peers in the council estate he grew up in, Paterson was doing what most kids were: learning guitar, falling in love, obsessing over fleeting hobbies, and working with his dad (who happened to be a country western singer). Documenting the first 20 years of his life, Toy Fights also explores Paterson’s descent into madness, as well as his involvement in the Scottish club scene and eventual move to London. Already compared to Shuggie Bain, Toy Fights is a story of family, the working class, money, and all the things in between that we do to avoid boredom.
Out January 2023 via Faber & Faber