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Read, think, react

My New Year’s resolutions: – to keep a record of the books I read and re-read this year and to record my reactions to them. And to alternate reading new (to me) novels with revisiting books already on my bookshelves (or Kindle), prompted by what I’ve just read.  And one more resolution – to look for answers to questions that are connected in some way with what I have been reading.

One recurring question: will I re-read this book?

Is there a good reason to (re-)read this book? Peter Abelard by Helen Waddell

At the time I first read Peter Abelard I had not heard of the story of Abelard and Heloise, and knew almost nothing of their world. I think Helen Waddell would have expected her readers to know more than I did then. So, although it may be a plot spoiler, I am going to tell some of what is known of the history of Peter Abelard and Heloise of Argenteuil. Continue reading

What makes a character engaging? A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

We meet Harry, the protagonist of Patrick Gale’s novel, as he endures horrific psychiatric ‘therapy’ in an asylum. Why then, for almost the first third of the book, do I find it so hard to care about Harry? However, this changes, by the middle of the novel I was gripped by the story, and cared a great deal about what happened to Harry, and to his friends. The story unfolds against a convincing background of hostility to homosexuals, emigration from Europe to ‘the colonies’, persecution of Native Americans, WW1, Spanish flu, and (at-the -time) novel psychiatric treatments Continue reading

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