My time doing the Persephone Readathon seems to be a big success this time round! Have found myself finishing the 2 books I’d set out to read – who knows, I might even find time to fit one more in before the end! My thanks to Jessie at Dwell In Possibility for hosting another fabulous readathon, and making me want to keep adding to my Persephone collection!
Here’s my thoughts on the 2 wonderful books that I’ve managed to read – so far! – for this readathon!
THE FORTNIGHT IN SEPTEMBER by R.C.SHERRIFF – 5 stars
I think the brilliance of this book is its’ simplicity! There are no gimmicks, there’s not a lot that really happens! Other than you get to follow a family in the build up, and then on, their yearly 2 week holiday to the seaside.
They go to the same place every year and have perfected the art of the routine of preparing to leave and then following the ‘same proceedure as every year’ (my nod to The Dinner For One sketch!) and how the years have gone by that small changes are beginning to appear in what happens and what each person gets from their break.
The preparation is meticulous, especially by the father. It’s like a military operation with him organising everyone to sort the ‘to do list’ – who to leave pets with, what food to leave in the fridge, which neighbour to leave the keys with – and we get to see this build up from his point of view and then from his wife’s which is slightly different. She is a quiet woman who pretends she enjoys this time, but underneath she’s very anxious and seems to just go through the motions for the sake of her family.
The boarding house they go to has seen a number of changes, not for the best, over the years but they feel duty bound to go there as the owner has become like family to them – their sense of loyalty is overwhelming.
With the children getting older, they all seem to have different thoughts on how their holiday should be spent – the father enjoys time alone walking, the eldest of the children are beginning to enjoy a little bit of freedom – and seeing the changes in their characters as they experience different things on the holiday allows them all to breathe a little bit more when they’re around one another.
It gives them all time to dwell on achievements and disappointments they’ve all faced in the past, and seeing how they can become different people entirely when they’re around others. It also makes them appreciate the simple pleasures, especially when they encounter their fathers’ boss whose aim in life seems to be showing off his wealth with no regard for others – his vulgarity makes the family appreciate all that their father does for them.
And just as they settle into their ‘holiday mode’ their fortnight is up – a feeling we’ve all gone through and I think that’s what makes this book so appealing! It captures the feelings and the escape that a holiday can bring for a family and all those little details that make or break a day in that fortnight and the family dynamic.
A truly lovely read!!
FLUSH by VIRGINIA WOOLF – 4 stars
An enchanting ‘dog biog’ that allows you to see the world from the perspective of Flush and all he encounters in his life, starting in the country and then late in the city as the pet of Elizabeth Barrett Browning who is often confined to her room with a mystery sickness and Flush keeps her company 24/7.
His early life is one of freedom in the countryside, so when he starts his new life in the city it is completely alien to him – the noise, the smells, the lack of freedom and he spends many years in a life of rigid routine and you sense his frustration but he accepts the restrictions as he’s devoted to his owner.
As her health improves, he finds that she’s not entirely devoted to him as her attention is taken by the dashing Mr Browning, who Flush takes an instant dislike to. Flush soon finds himself living in very difficult circumstances and it makes Elizabeth realise how important he is to her.
I found this to be a touching portrait of a dog living different lives over the years in different places and loved the way he was portrayed – the things he noticed about what was going on at the time with many touches of humour that added so much to the story and made it feel very ‘human’. Thoroughly enjoyable!