(1) Things which I have read and enjoyed
Apparently I now only read when I leave the city? At least, my commuting reading habit seems to have died of late. But fortunately I spent the long Easter weekend in Cornwall, so munched my way through a few things.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, which I really enjoyed, but didn’t think was as good as the hype. Howeve, I wasn’t expecting it to, as no one I know who’d read it had raved, although they’d all enjoyed it and had good things to say. So, it wasn’t like I had stupidly high expectations to meet, but I was also ready to enjoy it. There was enough different about it to make it striking, and it was a very easy read – but I wasn’t completely sold on the ending. I’d very much recommend it as a holiday read.
H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald, which I gave to my dad for Christmas and borrowed back. Wonderfully evocative and bleak non-fiction, and a really interesting depiction of England – especially in the light of a lot of the nationalist nonsense rhetoric going around during this general election.
The Brief, Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, which I knew I would love from about five pages in, which ended up going nowhere I really expected, and which I will happily give to people for future birthdays and Christmases. Totally a delight.
I also read two thirds of We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas for book club, and then discovered I’d double booked myself, at which point my motivation to finish dissipated. It’s by my bed waiting for me to finish, because I want to know the ending, but it may not happen. I have thoughts about why I’m so disengaged, which I might inflict on you at a later date.
(2) Things which I have watched and enjoyed
I howled my way through the end of Poldark, because I’d forgotten one element of the plot of the finale, and because I’m weirdly devoted to the idea of Francis and Demelza being BFF.
I saw Tom Stoppard’s latest, The Hard Problem at the National, which I am trying to write about so more another time, except to say that I liked, but did not love, and that I want to know how it worked for someone who’d never really thought about science and faith before.
At the cinema I saw Fast and Furious 7, which was everything I wanted and which I embrace completely. (It also absolutely explains why humans should not play with drones). I also did not take enough tissues to get me through the last five minutes.
And then I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron, by which I was slightly disappointed. I suppose my expectations were pretty high, but it didn’t hit Thor 2 joys, let alone Avengers or Winter Soldier joys. It felt a bit disconnected from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whilst trying to convince us that it was pulling it together, which I suspect was Whedon vs Marvel, but I wanted it to go one way or the other. Problems: Bruce and Natasha doesn’t work for me, emotionally, and that’s not just because of That Scene that is really icky; I don’t think it made enough of the threat of an AI like Ultron (it could have had a much sharper commentary); and there were times when it felt like Whedon was using the jokes to make the characters, rather than the characters making the jokes, because the whole thing was too stuffed and it was an easy shorthand. Good stuff: some of the jokes were good (Murderbots, Eugene O’Neill), Paul Bettany as Vision being both Jarvis and very Not, the existence of Chris Evans as Captain America grounding the whole shebang. But sadly, I think I might be overbaked on Marvel films.
(3) Things which I wrote that I’m fond of…
Just this piece on the way some of our politicians have been talking about the Christian faith and appealing to Christian voters during this election. I reached peak election despair on Sunday, so I can barely imagine writing this right now.
(4) A photo from the month gone by
Hannah’s first trip to Washington DC (so obviously there’s scaffolding all over the Capitol and the Mall)
(5) In the pile for May
Dance central for live viewings this month: taking myself to see Wayne McGregor’s new ballet based on Virginia Woolf’s work at the Royal Opera house, and to Sadler’s Wells to see Sylvie Guillem before she finally retires.
I still haven’t got to Wolf Hall, consider it eternally in the pile… I’m reading Outline, which the nice people at the Bailey’s Prize have sent to London Book Club, and then re-reading Station’s Eleven for regular book club. I’ve also grabbed The Country of Ice Cream Star and All the Light we Cannot See now they’re in paperback, and I’m very excited about both. I’m heading to New York in June – rec me your favourite NYC books (fiction and non-fiction)?