Bookish Discussions

February Reading Wrap-Up:

I’ve been super busy in February, hence the lack of posts (I’m really sorry, OK). I’ve been at work pretty much every day as I head to Krakow next week and Belfast the week after. I did manage to get quite a bit of reading done, though, so let’s chat about that.

Here’s all the nine books I read this month:

– The Binding by Bridget Collins / 4.5 stars

– A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin / 4.5 stars

– The Foundling by Stacey Halls / 4 stars

– Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg / 4 stars

– The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins / 0 stars

– And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou / 0 stars

– No One is Too Small to make a Difference by Greta Thunberg / 3 stars

– A Storm of Swords: Part One by George R.R Martin / 4 stars

– The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker / 2 stars

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Bookish Discussions

The Foundling // Can Bess Find Her Child?


I’m heading off to Stacey Halls’ author event at Waterstones this evening. I’ll be listening to her chat about her debut, The Familiars, and her most recent novel, The Foundling. I didn’t want to go without having read her newest work, so I dedicated the weekend to it.

So… It’s London, 1754. Six years after leaving her newborn at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the illegitimate daughter she never knew. But her daughter has already been claimed, by her…

Less from a mile from Bess is Alexandra, a wealthy housebound woman, who is persuaded to hire a nursemaid to take care of her daughter. Her past is threatening to catch up with her, and will soon tear her carefully constructed world apart…

It sounds like a lot, right?

It was brilliant. Halls writes such captivating stories. She has quickly become a favourite author of mine, writing such tense and atmospheric historical fiction. Her writing style is simple but elegant. It’s enchanting and addictive. I flew through it in two days, which could have easily been one, because I couldn’t get enough of these characters.

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Bookish Discussions

The Five // A New Favourite Non-Fiction

I’ve been desperate to read The Five by Hallie Rubenhold since its release in early 2019. I had to wait a whole year for the paperback. I consumed it all as soon as I got it; I was that impatient.C709A50A-8037-4965-8F51-17FC5FA3BB4C

The Five is different to the other non-fiction books on Jack the Ripper. Rubenhold isn’t interested in trying to understand the motives behind these gruesome murders, nor is she interested in trying to uncover the true identity of the Ripper. She is interested in the victims; she gives us a timeline of their lives, starting with childhood through to their life in London.

Rubenhold wants these women to be remembered.

I love that Rubenhold didn’t romanticise the murders. We seem to have an odd, voyeuristic obsession with the tiny details of a murder: how did they die? What did their body look like when it was found? What was the murder weapon? Dead bodies become something to probe and scrutinize. The Five didn’t actually discuss the women’s deaths – it was a passing comment. Rubenhold humanises these women, who were much more than just “victims”, by giving us a historical timeline of their lives. We get to know them on a personal level.

By focusing on just the women, and by rarely even mentioning the Ripper, and I mean rarely, Rubenhold questions why we, as the modern world, romanticise Jack the Ripper instead of acknowledging him as a murderous misogynist. We have moulded him into some sort of legend – the uncaught killer – who is remembered in history and, at time, is celebrated (or so it seems?). As a result, we leave his five victims to be forgotten about – at most, being remembered as nothing more than “prostitutes”.

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