Sunday, August 05, 2007

Books I've been reading

Mary has loaned me plenty of books for the summer. As we have been busy, I haven't had as much time to read as last summer, but I've made the most of the few sunny days we've had in the last week or so (today not being one of them - it's been raining non-stop since last night - it's only just brightening up now, at 3:30, but I don't think we'll see the sun today!).

I've just finished reading Second Honeymoon, by Joanna Trollope. I enjoyed it, despite myself, and read it in record time. It's well written and I certainly wanted to know how it would all work out for the characters in the story. That said, I felt that the story itself was a bit empty, or that I could not connect to it. I guess it would mean more to me if I had children - Brendan has never had to share me with children (and, let's face it, Willow is pretty undemanding, really), so we'll never experience the day when the children leave the nest, leaving us all alone, or not alone, as in this book.

Just before that, I read Brick Lane, by Monica Ali. It is the story of Nazneen, a 17-year-old Bangladeshi girl who is married to a man twice her age and follows him to Britain, where he has been living. He is really annoying, fat and pompous, but he doesn't beat her, and is therefore described as a "good husband". The book follows her through her life in London, first the boredom of being stuck in a small grey flat all day, not speaking a word of English, how her children's expectations are completely different from her own, how she makes friends, how she keeps in touch with her sister who lives in Dhaka. Nazneen is both meek and strong, and maybe stereotypical in some ways, but she felt very real to me. And the writing is very good. For me, reading Brick Lane was a much stronger experience than Second Honeymoon. It may not acurately represent the Bangladeshi community in the UK, but I felt it opened a small window for me, that helps me understand how a Muslim woman sees the world

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