Book Reviews,  books

What I read in July

I’ve had a lot on in July, naming moving house and attending music festivals! However, I’ve still found the time to read.

Here is a round-up of the main books I read in July.

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

Based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, this is the story of Mary Bennet, the plain and quiet middle sister who likes to read and play the piano. Treated unkindly by her mother, and with few friends in the world, her life becomes a precarious round of visiting her married sisters, with little to look forward to.  Janice Hadlow reimagines what Mary’s life might have been like and grants her the agency and depth that is lacking in the original novel.

I really enjoyed this-it was well-written and stuck to the style of Jane Austen. Mary is relatable, a plain girl with a love of books and a desire to learn. She is much more of a well-rounded character then in the original book.

The only criticism I would make of this book was that at 600 pages, it was slightly overlong. At points, the plot sagged and I felt that there were parts that could have been cut out. This is only a minor criticism and I did relish the opportunity to inhabit the world of Pride and Prejudice again.

A delightfully cosy read, perfect for snuggling up with, along with a hot drink.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins- Reid

The novel follows Emma Blair, a young woman whose husband, Jesse is presumed dead after he goes missing in a helicopter crash. When he is found alive years later, Emma has moved on and is now engaged to another man.

I found this quite a conflicting read. On one hand, the sweet, fluffy love story between Jesse and Emma wasn’t my thing, however, I found the central concept intriguing. And it kept me reading. Someone was going to get emotionally crushed and I needed to find out how it panned out.

And I’m not going to lie. There is one scene in particular, which wrecked me. I was sobbing. I had to have a break from reading the book, for the sake of my mental health.

This was probably my least favourite of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novels, but that is only because her other books were so so good. TJR is a fantastic writer and One True Loves is beautifully written.

I wasn’t a big fan of Emma and she seemed to be able to flip between the two men easily. She lacked character depth and also used the word ‘love’ too flippantly.

A sweet summer read, but not as good as TJR’s other books imo.

Black Butterflies by Priscila Morris

I’ve put this one last, but that’s not to diminish this novel as I LOVED it.

Exploring the Siege of Sarajevo through the lens of one woman’s experience, Morris’ haunting novel about a painter and teacher, Zora, who refuses to flee combines the traumatic realities of war with hope, resilience and solace in art.

The writing was clear and evocative, a love letter to a city now synonymous with war. This book raised so many questions, like how would I act if I was in Zora’s situation? Would I flee Sarajevo or would I stay?

I learnt a lot about a time in history I previously didn’t know much about.  I also saw a more human side of the war in Sarajevo- the friendships formed and nourished whilst living in fear.

This was sometimes not an easy read, but it was definitely worthwhile.

Looking forward to more reading adventures in August! 📚

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