September reads

Only two books read during September, but one of them was what I considered a good fat book at 1006 pages.

  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell Susanna Clarke
  • There was a discussion on one of the Book Crossing lists that this book was considered to be a Harry Potter for adults. I ordered this book from the Book Depository about the time the last Harry Potter was due out.

    Tired of the marketing hype leading up to the fourth Harry Potter, I have only read the first three in the series.

    But back to Susanna Clarke’s first novel, I savoured all 1006 pages. It was difficult to read in bed (my usual place for reading) as the book is printed on good quality paper and is quite heavy. So although it was easy to put down some nights because my hands got tired, in all other respects I could have kept reading. But it took me nearly a month to finish, and when I did I was sorry that I had.

    I particularly liked the style of writing, i.e. the inclusion of footnotes to give the impression that it was an authoritative text or reference. The characters are delightful, even those most unlikely and unpleasant ones.

    The only aspect of the book that I would consider similar to the Harry Potter series, is that it is about magicians. What makes it an adult book, is that the characters and the story are not so ‘nice’, and plot and sub-plots are a lot more complex.

    It is the first good fat book I have read in ages. I just wish there was a similarly sized good book to follow.

  • The Ballad of Les Darcy Peter Fitzsimons
  • This book I read directly after ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell’ as I was looking for something metaphorically lighter. Not only was the paper more fluffy, the font was much larger, and the text was a narrative style.

    The book was not light in subject matter, although it was easy to read. The personal story of Les Darcy, a boxer during World War I, is not a book I would have chosen to read, but in the context of the culture and politics of the times it was an interesting read. So much so, it has led me to look for other books on early Australia that go beyond the usual facts and figures of how many sheep and who we ship the iron ore to.

    It certainly was gratifying to learn that at least one previous prime minister didn’t always toe the line.

    Hughes’s [Billy] most famous moment as Prime Minister, or at least the most recounted, came during the post-World War I peace conference at the Palace of Versailles, in an exchange with the seemingly all-powerful President Wilson of the United States of America. At issue was who would now have control of the formerly German colony in New Guinea. The American favoured Japan, which had fought on the side of the Allies in the war, while Hughes was equally insistent that it should be Australia. When a frustrated Wilson sought to cut Hughes down by noting that ‘After all, you speak for only five million people’, Hughes dryly replied: ‘I speak for 60,000 dead. for how many do you speak?’

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