Bookish Discussions · Reviews · Wrap-ups

September Wrap-up:


Yet another month has flown by, meaning I’m here with my usual monthly wrap-up. Despite the hectic month, September’s reading has been quite successful. I made a head start on my uni reading list, as well as finally picking up Juliet Barker’s humongous biography, The Brontës.

I’ve managed to read six novels this month, so let’s get into the nitty, gritty part:

The Dynamiter:

September started off awfully with Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Dynamiter. This is a required read for my Terrorism and Modern Literature module, and I hated every moment of it.

I had absolutely no idea what was going on. It wasn’t until later I realised I was reading short stories and not a full-length novel. I know that the narrative is concerned with bombing and terrorism, otherwise I wouldn’t have been asked to read it, but other than that I can’t really say anything on it. I couldn’t find summaries online, so I feel like I wasted my time with this one.

1 star.

The Murder of Rodger Ackroyd:

I’ve never read anything by Agatha Christie before, so when I saw one of her novels included on my reading list I was ecstatic. This is a crime tale following the story of Roger Ackroyd, a man who knew too much. The woman he loved poisoned her first husband, then committed suicide when she started getting blackmailed. One evening, Ackroyd received the evening post detailing who the mysterious know-it-all was, but was killed before he finished it. Here enters Hercule Poirot, accompanied by Dr. Sheppard (our narrator), to solve this crime.

The only criticism of this book was the length. It was far too long, losing suspense around half way through. For me, crime books need to be a specific length in order to work. As this was too long, I started to lose interest in plot, characters and mystery. However, Christie managed to pull it back with the revelation. I never suspected the murderer for a second, and was completely shocked at the reveal. After this, I definitely cannot wait to pick up some more of her stuff – I want to see if she can shock me like this again!

4 stars.

The Man Who Was Thursday:

This book was yet another read for my Terrorism module. Albeit slightly better than the others, I still wasn’t keen on it. Gabriel Syme is sent by Scotland Yard to infiltrate the Central Anarchist Council. After weakening the initial contender for the position of Thursday, he is elected and sent to the central council. However, nothing is as it seems. Syme uncovers secrets that jeopardise his investigation, and the council’s plans lead to a desperate chase across Europe. Still, he is yet to face the greatest terror – the council leader, Sunday.

As the Penguin English Library edition concludes: ‘G.K Chesterton’s exploration of cultural pessimism and religious convictions mixes nightmarish paranoia, parable and political humour’.

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into this. I lost interest really early on, so I ended up skim reading the rest. It got to the point where I had no idea where the story was going, so I had to Google a summary before composing a review. All the characters were painfully dull, and the plot was chaotic. Definitely not my cup of tea.

1 star.

Autumn: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons:

This was the first book on my Autumn TBR, and it was a brilliant pick if I say so myself. Autumn is a collection of prose and poetry from the last few centuries that celebrate the months of September, October and November, aka Autumn. Included in this is pieces from Horatio Clare, Ted Hughes, Nan Shephard and Percy Bysshe Shelley, to name but a few.

I knew I was going to like this – I love Nature writing and I love Autumn. To combine the two is my idea of heaven. My favourite thing was seeing how people portrayed their “Autumn”; they each captured the season in a different, yet equally enchanting way. I found a whole new level of appreciation for these months by reading the odd few pieces. The only criticism I have about this is the diversity in years – a lot of the texts were from 2016 and hardly any from 18th/19th century. I wanted to learn more about Autumn from centuries ago, instead of what I already know and am experiencing now in the 21st.

4 stars.

The Well of Loneliness:

This novel, published in 1928, follows the story of Stephen Gordon, an Englishwoman from an upper-class family. She’s your typical pre-war aristocratic child: she fences, horse rides and is a keen scholar. From a young age, Stephen doesn’t conform to social conventions of femininity: she wears trousers, longs to cut her hair, doesn’t take interest in male suitors, and is a lesbian. Forced to leave her beloved home, she travels to Paris to escape the rigid and confining social norms of England. Eventually War breaks out and Stephen longs to be involved; she becomes a war hero, and meets the interesting and naïve Mary Llewellyn.

I am so thankful this was on my reading list for university, otherwise I doubt I would have ever picked it up. From the very start, Hall’s writing captivated me, holding me hostage for the duration of the novel. I couldn’t get enough. Stephen’s life was so unique, and I loved watching her transform into someone I was proud of. This was my first solely lesbian novel, and now I can’t wait to pick up some more. I rated it down for some minor issues that I’ll explain in my full review coming soon.

4 stars.

The Quiet American:

This is the fourth book I’ve been asked to read for my Terrorism and Modern Literature module, and – to stick to tradition – it is the third book I’ve hated for it. Books about bombing and terrorism just do not interest me, so why did I take this module?

As usual, I was so disinterested in the story I had to rely on Wiki to give me an in depth plot summary. To sum it up, The Quiet American “depicts French colonialism in Vietnam being uprooted by the Americans during the 1950s.” Sounds boring, right? But what made me hate this book the most was the treatment of women, specifically of Phuong. She was a prize to be won by men. Fowler and Pyle constantly fought over who could give her the better life, never really being interested in what she had to say. To me, this battle took over the whole plot. I didn’t know much about the bombing and Vietnam War because it was always focused on Phuong. I just couldn’t enjoy this one.

1 star.

These were the books I’ve read in the month of September. Although not a particularly exciting list, the majority of them had to be read. Many of these were never on my radar, so in some instances I’m glad I had to read them (Christie and Hall’s in particular). I’m hoping to incorporate more of my own choices in-between my uni reads, so my wrap-ups won’t be as dull in future.

Thanks for reading, Lauren Xx

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