I didn’t read as much as I normally do this month, but that’s okay! I was busy going to the beach and filling my weekends with other end of summer experiences.
I finally read Hamnet this month, and loved it as much as everyone else did! It’s a lyrical written story about grief and Shakespeare’s (fictionalized) family. This is exactly what I’m looking for in literary fiction- beautiful writing and expertly written characters. Maggie O’Farrell clearly did her research on the Shakespeare family, but she also tells an original story that stands on its own. Hamnet is also the first book that made me cry in years.
I liked the descriptions of food and NYC in Sweetbitter, but overall it was too slow & way overwritten. My favorite thing about this book is what I learned about working in the restaurant/food industry, specifically fine dining. If you can get through Tess’s overly naive and heady descriptions of her life after randomly moving to New York City, you’ll learn about the inner-workings and politics of running a famous restaurant. Seriously, this girl doesn’t know anything about New York City (or life) when she gets there. Yet somehow she’s likable, sexy, and a protegee at her job? What saved this book for me, as someone who lived there for a year and worked in two unforgiving industries (publishing & retail), is the love/hate descriptions of working your butt off living in New York City.
The Perfect Nanny was the most underwhelming thriller I’ve read all year. Translated from French, this book has a lot of half-baked ideas and proclamations about motherhood, race, and class. All these ideas and themes were underdeveloped.
But the biggest problem I had with The Perfect Nanny is that it’s a thriller, and yet there was no surprise or twist. At the very beginning of the book, we learn that a French couple’s nanny, Louise, has killed their two children. Spoiler alert, she did. And there’s no nuance to why she did it. I also didn’t find Louise’s character very believable. There’s not nearly enough to justify her mental breakdown at the end.
I love a good campus novel with a mystery and vapid teenage girls, and The Divines didn’t disappoint. This one has surprisingly low/poor reviews on Goodreads. Maybe people don’t like it because it’s slow-paced and the characters are extremely dislikable. Although that description also fits the much-loved The Secret History by Donna Tartt French, and I thought The Divines was better. What I really liked about this book was how the reader learns about Joe’s experiences and trauma at boarding school affected her adult life. This book also takes an interesting look at how memories can change over years and how people remember the same events differently.
I also read Moonflower Murders (not pictured), the second book in the Susan Ryeland series by Anthony Horowitz, which was just as good as the first! I don’t want to spoil anything from book one, Magpie Murders, but these books have some of the most masterful plotting I’ve ever read. They’re also both murder mysteries within a muder mystery. I really hope there will be a book three!
With August ending, I can’t wait to officially kick off my fall reading in September!