On My Bookshelf // March

March has been a busy book month so it appears! The usual one-book-a-fortnight routine has gone out the window - largely because some of the books I've been reading were so gripping I would go for big 3 hour long sessions at a time! You know when you wake up on a Saturday, turn on your kindle and only leave bed when your bladder is so painful you have to crawl to the bathroom? Yup, that has been me for the past month! Alas, I've been keeping a close eye on the pennies of late (no random purchases from Paperchase unfortunately) so my Kindle has been a absolute treat for cheap reads. You just can't say no to a £1.15 bestseller!

The Girl on the Train

Rachel takes the same commuter train every day, stopping outside the same row of terrace houses. Inside a cozy suburban home lives a 'perfect couple'. They're in love, they're young, they're beautiful, but all is not as it seems. One day Rachel sees something she shouldn't and gets involved in a police investigation, as well as the lives of everyone involved. This is a deep psychological thriller that has the most fantastic twist in it!

Once again I find myself drawn to books that reflect the place or environment I find myself in. On the last few days of commuting into London I downloaded this novel and read it back and forth on the train, becoming increasingly suspicious of the folks living in terrace houses next to the track! It's a gripping novel and the protagonist is wonderfully refreshing, not because of her bright vivaciousness but because of the pain she puts the reader through due to her constant mistakes and poor life choices. I absolutely loved it. Pure, unsolicited entertainment in book form.

Snug Rating: 4.5/5

The Letter

Two women, born decades apart, find their lives entwined when one finds an unopened letter from 1939 in an old coat pocket. Tina, an abused housewife living in the 1970's, becomes embroiled with the people from the letter and feels compelled to find out who they are and what happened to them all those years ago. The mystery of the love letter has the potential to change lives, but how will Tina find the writer decades later? Beautiful concept and memorable characters!

I love forgotten letters. There's something about an untold or overlooked story that I simply can't shake, especially when it involves something so intimate as a letter. Forever a magpie for old postcards with good messages on the back, I read this novel with a sense of vicariousness. What would happen if you tried to find the writer of a fifty year old letter? A lot, if the protagonist of this novel is anything to go by! However, some of the writing surrounding Tina's abusive relationship was a little underdeveloped, as I felt the complex psychological manipulation of her husband was oversimplified at times, which made me questions some of her actions as a character.

Snug Rating: 3.5/5

Through England on a Side Saddle

This diary was written in around 1700 and recounts the journey of Celia Fiennes, an enthusiastic traveller and letter writer. Going, of course, by side-saddle, Celia recounts the quirky ins and outs of England village by village. Surprisingly, a lot of her observations ring true today and it's interesting to see how your hometown fared through her eyes 300 years ago.

An interesting account on the turn-of-the-century, Celia sheds insight on the social and economic change rippling through the agricultural lands of England. As with any historical writing, her idyllic journey by horseback is fractured by her often bigoted and unflattering opinions of others (especially the Welsh and Scottish!). It's gorgeous cover and slight volume makes it great for perusing on short journeys. Don your cloak and riding boots at once!

Snug Rating: 3/5

Elizabeth is Missing

A darkly riveting novel, Elizabeth is Missing is the story of Maud, an elderly lady with dementia who sets out on a quest to find her friend Elizabeth. The only problem is that she can't remember the clues and increasingly questions what was once her trusty memory. Healey mediates upon memory, old age, identity and family, as Maud's attempts to find her friend unveil disastrous truths about her life growing up.

I felt myself increasingly gripped and flooded with sympathy for the protagonist for two reasons. One, the narrative cleverly introduces Maud's childhood during her episodes of dementia, which adds a childlike vulnerability to her character as the fragility of her memory becomes more and more apparent. Two, the use of an elderly woman as a protagonist is unusual and is therefore significant. The elderly have lived rich lives and are so often ignored in contemporary literature. Maud's sense of self, her pride, her reflections, are universal and her story is told with dignity. A beautifully written, refreshing read.

Snug Rating: 4.5/5

What did you read in March? Do you like the sound of these titles?

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