march 2013

There can be a sobering element of truthfulness if one chooses to be honest not only about their reading choices, but reading habits. I suppose what I’m saying is that while these ‘What I’m Reading’ posts always do very well (thank you!), and have done so for a few years now, I’ve been starting to wonder if they actually contribute any really useful discussion and insight into the texts themselves. When I have time to go into detail, I do, but during the time-poor months (such as this) I usually get to this point having raced through a book – if I finish at all – with nary a note taken, margin annotation or thought held for later teasing.

This is somewhat depressing, as I used to be the opposite – the other week, for example, I came across my university copy of Thea Astley’s A Kindness Cup and it was stuffed with small Post-Its, highlighted to the point of page saturation, thanks to the ink. Should I be more like that, I wondered?

Although there is a small amount of irony to be found in the fact that for all that effort, even these years later, I remember little about that book at all – only that I did an assignment on it.

So when I say I loved Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion, I mean I loved it the same way I do when any piece of her work passes by my eyeballs. For these passages alone:

happy quote

Just magic.

Little did I realise the ferocity of feeling surrounding What I Loved, before I began. A mere mention of the text on a few social media outlets was enough for fans of the book to come out. And for good reason. It’s intelligent, well-crated and brave. The plot twist in the middle, although I was expecting it, was very powerful. I was still raving at the three-quarter point. And yet.

And yet …

Not to give away any spoilers, but I think there were one or two plot threads that weren’t quite resolved. This is okay by me – I’m all for an interpretive ending, letting the reader ponder for him-or-her self what happens – but I admit, my overall impression was dampened. Perhaps I ought to read the book again; perhaps they were dealt with, subtly, and I just missed them.

And I’m going to abandon Here and Now, I think. At the beginning I was enjoying Auster’s and Coetzee’s letters to each other. They had an air of informality and, almost, self-consciousness that was endearing. But then Coetzee also writes some off-hand remarks about women that I found mildly insulting. And there’s passages such as this:


I immediately thought, ‘He’s forgotten Quidditch!’ Perhaps I’m being overly credulous and critical (I wonder if he’s even read Harry Potter).

My next thought was this: give me a book with two women authors, writing letters to each other, please.


Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity