Winding Up the Week #30

An end of week recap

Winding Up the Week #11This is a weekly post in which I summarize books read, reviewed and currently on my TBR shelf. In addition to a variety of literary titbits, I look ahead to forthcoming features, see what’s on the night-stand and keep readers abreast of various book-related happenings.


I read and reviewed The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, one of our greatest contemporary writers on war. She has excelled herself with this reimagining of the most famous conflict in literature – the legendary Trojan War. >> Read my review >>

Look out for my thoughts on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – my first choice from The Classics Club list and the latest pick for the Monthly Genre Challenge at The Reading Challenge Group.

Next up is Adrienne Celt’s Invitation to a Bonfire, in which Zoya Andropova, a young Russian refugee, finds herself in an elite New Jersey boarding school struggling to belong.

Coming soon is Home Is Nearby by Australian writer Magdalena McGuire, set in 1980 at the beginning of the Polish crisis. It was published by Impress Books in 2017.


* Reading, Looking, Thinking *

Three Things… is a place for me to prattle on about matters varied and unspecified. In this post I share with you a few pictorial memories of my voyage to Norway, discuss Viking DNA and make a cringey revelation. >> Read Three Things… #3 >>

* Lit Crit Blogflash *

THE SUMMER BOOKI’m going to share with you six of my favourite literary posts from around the blogosphere. There are so many talented writers posting high-quality book features and reviews, it was difficult to limit the list to only these few – all of them published over the last week or two:

The most perfect book – Chris Lovegrove recalls a beautiful book by one of my favourite writers, Tove Jansson. He describes The Summer Book as, “just the most perfect book; so perfect that [he] can scarcely bear to discuss it for fear of spoiling it.” Needless to say, he does no such thing. Read his delightful post at Calmgrove.

Achilles – Amalia Gavea describes Elizabeth Cook’s 2001 novella as “side by side with Homer’s epic of epics” – retold in “vivid, haunting details.” Read her enthusiastic review at The Opinionated Reader.

The Tree of the Toraja by Philippe Claudel (transl. Euan Cameron): Death, grief and hope – In her review of Philippe Claudel’s new novella, Susan, of A life in books finds his “exploration of death” a “quiet, thought-provoking triumph.”

“Joansing” for Didion – Adam B at Roof Beam Reader shares his thoughts on Joan Didion’s 1979 essay collection, The White Album, which he says is “unflinching” and “tightly themed”.

The Latecomers by Anita Brookner [book review] – Karen from BookerTalk finds Anita Brookner’s eighth novel, “humorous”, “warm” and “delightful”.

Review: Manderley Forever: A Bio. of Daphne Du Maurier by Tatania de Rosnay – The “style” of this 2015 Du Maurier biography sometimes puzzled Lisa Hayes of Hopewell’s Public Library of Life. Nonetheless, she found it “enjoyable”.

* Irresistible Items *

Umpteen fascinating articles appeared on my bookdar last week. I generally make a point of tweeting my favourite finds, but in case you missed anything, here are a handful of interesting snippets:


The Guardian: BAME short story prize shortlist ranges across modern life – “The six finalists for the Guardian/Fourth Estate award offer compelling pictures of the contemporary world,” writes Claire Armitstead.

The Independent: From Hemingway to HG Wells: The books banned and burnt by the Nazis – Another unique list of titles compiled by Alex Johnson for his weekly book feature.

Medium: Good Things Happen in Book Stores – Bestselling author Ryan Holiday believes we should be spending far more time in book shops.

Literary Hub: The Wind in the Willows Isn’t Really a Children’s Book – “Nor, mysteriously, does it contain any willows…” says Peter Hunt.

Atlas Obscura: The Crack Squad of Librarians Who Track Down Half-Forgotten Books – According to Jessica Leigh Hester: “a crack squad of librarians is working to reunite stumped readers with the books from the edges of their memories.”

Slate: Watch the Trailer for the Long-Awaited, Big-Screen Adaptation of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto – See the first trailer for a big screen version of the Orange Prize winning novel Bel Canto, which stars Julianne Moore and Ken Watanabe.

The Washington Post: Surprising influences on Oscar Wilde’s greatest works – “He reclined sensuously on a fur rug for publicity stills, mastered the pungent axiom, and faced down rowdy hecklers.”

The Guardian: Home Office refuses visas for authors invited to Edinburgh book festival – Sian Cain reveals that the Edinburgh international book festival director Nick Barley has complained of a “humiliating” application process, which will deter writers and damage cultural life in UK.

Signature: 9 Best Characters in Literature Inspired by Real People – Keith Rice shares a list of his favourite fictional characters based on historic figures.

The New York Review of Books: Does Literature Help Us Live? – Can we really claim literature is good for us? asks Tim Parks.

AFP News: Kenyan women lead bold revival of libraries’ faded glory – Two Kenyan women are working to restore and modernize three Nairobi libraries.

TOR.COM: Announcing the 2018 World Fantasy Award Finalists – “The finalists for the 2018 World Fantasy Awards have been announced.”



If there is something you would particularly like to see on Winding Up the Week or if you have any suggestions, questions or comments for Book Jotter in general, please drop me a line or comment below. I would be delighted to hear from you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I wish you a week bountiful in books and rich in reading.

NB In this feature, ‘winding up’ refers to the act of concluding something and should not be confused with the British expression: ‘wind-up’ – an age-old pastime of ‘winding-up’ friends and family by teasing or playing pranks on them. If you would like to know more about this expression, there’s an excellent description on Urban Dictionary.

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20 replies

  1. Bel Canto still remains near the top of my most perfect books ever list, and I had no idea there was going to be a movie!

  2. Thank you so so much, Paula!!! I am truly honoured. You have found (once again) extremely fascinating articles for all of us. I hope you’ll enjoy ”Home Is Nearby”, it is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read this year.

  3. Thanks for mentioning me in LitCrit Blogflash and placing my review in the company of other, much finer, reviews: they reminded me of opening a box of interesting trinkets and picking each one up for examination and appropriate exclamation.

  4. Well this little clutch of links should keep me quiet for a while 🙂 Love the variety of topics you’ve uncovered Paula. And thanks for the mention of my review of The Latecomers

  5. Thanks for the Claudel mention, Paula. I’d love it if more readers discovered his writing. Such gorgeous prose!

  6. So many interesting tidbits and links here, Paula. It’s one of my favorite things to do on a weekend night. I was wondering about that Manderley Forever because I have de Rosnay’s newest. I ping backed to your Beekeeper review today. Have a little nod to you on my blog. 😊

  7. Looking forward to reading about Magdalena McGuire!

  8. I’ve read a number of her short stories, Paula, and enjoyed them. Magdalena is a good researcher and originally Polish so her debut novel Home Is Nearby apparently combines those two things to powerful effect.


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