Friday, 1 August 2014

Reading Wrap-Up + Mini Book Haul | July 2014

Once again, stressing about university and the future meant I barely did any reading in July, but I really enjoyed both of the books I did read and really that's all that matters!

by Margaret Atwood

My Rating: 

Now that all the others have run out of air, it's my turn to do a little story-making.
In Homer's account in The Odyssey, Penelope--wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy--is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages. Left alone for twenty years when Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan War after the abduction of Helen, Penelope manages, in the face of scandalous rumors, to maintain the kingdom of Ithaca, bring up her wayward son, and keep over a hundred suitors at bay, simultaneously. When Odysseus finally comes home after enduring hardships, overcoming monsters, and sleeping with goddesses, he kills her suitors and--curiously--twelve of her maids.
In a splendid contemporary twist to the ancient story, Margaret Atwood has chosen to give the telling of it to Penelope and to her twelve hanged maids, asking: "What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to?" In Atwood's dazzling, playful retelling, the story becomes as wise and compassionate as it is haunting, and as wildly entertaining as it is disturbing. With wit and verve, drawing on the story-telling and poetic talent for which she herself is renowned, she gives Penelope new life and reality--and sets out to provide an answer to an ancient mystery.
I'm ashamed to say that before last month I had never read any of Margaret Atwood's fiction. Yes, that really does mean I've never read The Handmaid's Tale. As both an avid reader and a feminist, I'm appalled with myself. 

I stumbled across this little hardback edition of The Penelopiad for just £1 in a charity shop in South Wales and I just had to have it. I love Greek mythology, and the idea of reading Penelope's side of the story really interested me - that poor woman really does put up with a lot of crap in The Odyssey!

Considering I was in a bit of a slump despite being in the middle of several great books - books I'm still in the middle of! - my friend Laura and I decided to read The Penelopiad together, and we both enjoyed it. I loved what Atwood did with the original tale, the little ways in which she tweaked it, and the voice she gave Penelope was just exquisite. Now I'm very eager to read more of her fiction!

by Jemma L. King

My Rating: 

The Undressed is a poetry collection inspired by a cache of antique nude photographs of women. King studied the photographs ranging from the 1840s to the 1930s and attempted to return voices to these mostly anonymous women lost to history.

Meet Olive, the silent movie star, Karolina, 'The Folding Girl of Kotka', and Mary, the prostitute who hopes the judge she's due to stand before will turn out to be a client...

The second book I read in July I read on the very last day of the month and it has to be one of the best books I've read this year; this is especially unusual for me considering, I'm ashamed to admit, I very rarely read poetry collections for pleasure. Reading poetry is something I need to do more of, because there are some amazing poets out there.

This collection is just gorgeous. Each poem is like its own little story - something I love in a poetry collection - and each voice sounds different from the others. I definitely recommend this collection, whether you frequently read poetry or not!

Last weekend I went to a market stall with my parents where second hand books were being sold: 3 for £5. Naturally, I couldn't leave empty-handed and I ended up coming away with a miniature historical fiction haul.

Nowadays I tend to buy most of my books second hand - I don't care if books look a little worn, in fact I think it gives them character! - and all three of the books I picked up are ones I've been after for a while now, including another of Margaret Atwood's novels!

I picked up copies of Karen Maitland's The Gallows Curse, Daphne du Maurier's Frenchman's Creek, and Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace. I mentioned Daphne du Maurier in a post at the beginning of last month as one of the authors I'm most ashamed to admit I have yet to read. I have a copy of Rebecca, but I've been wanting to read Frenchman's Creek for a long time now so I'm hoping to start it soon!

What did you read in July?



  1. I loved the Handmaid's Tale! I think you would really enjoy it. I will have to check out The Penelopiad soon.

    1. I've been meaning to read it for years, I just need to get my hands on a copy. :) Definitely check out The Penelopiad!