As predicted, I simply didn't have time to post during the week, and unfortunately I didn't get to visit many blogs either. By the time I have taught all day, attended meetings, got Giles home, cooked dinner, eaten dinner, given Giles his bath, put him to bed and sorted out everything for the next day, including planning and marking, I'm not in much shape for anything! Happily, one of the things I am in shape for is reading, so I've still been steadily going through books. Here's what I have read over the past two weeks or so:
Bad Pharma is well researched and it helps that Goldacre is a UK trained doctor, but at times his rhetoric was a bit over the top. I could have done without lots of the repeated anger, especially in a book as long as this one. It did however make me appreciate my own GP, who prescribes generic medications rather than the fancier branded ones that have the exact same ingredients, and who has explained this to me before prescribing. Bad Pharma covers an important topic and is well researched and written, so I would recommend it if you don't mind a bit of repeated anger on the part of the author. 3.5 out of 5
Reviews of N-W seem to be very mixed, with readers tending to rank it lower than her other books. This is mainly due to the experimental writing style; parts of this novel are written in numbered sections, in fragments of sentences and in lists. Personally I loved that Smith had chosen to write like this, as she is definitely talented enough to pull it off. The chaotic writing style matched the chaotic lives of the characters and I was hooked within a few pages. This book was challenging to read at times and the style didn't always work, but I found it thoroughly engrossing and a realistic portrait of London today. 3.5 out of 5.
To start with what I liked - I had no idea about the way 'Orientals' were treated in America at this time, and it was fascinating to learn about the 'Chop Suey Circuit' and the interment camps for American citizens of Japanese descendants during WW2. I liked the epic-ness of the story, how it covered many decades and events and gave a real sense of time passing. However, the three main characters were a major let-down. The only one I could ever really like was Grace, which wouldn't have been a problem if their storylines weren't so unbelievable. Ruby, Helen and Grace kept on and on hurting each other, and their friendship seemed based only on jealousy and a common race. I just couldn't comprehend how they kept forgiving each other some pretty unforgivable things, and why they were so keen to hurt each other. It completely ruined what could have been an interesting novel, if only the portrayal of female friendship was more nuanced. 2 out of 5 stars.
So that's me almost up to date. I've also finished The Bronte Myth by Lucasta Miller, but as it has led directly on to a reread of Jane Eyre, I'm going to save it for a joint post another time. What have you been reading lately?