I’ve been a bit remiss in publishing my book reviews over the past couple of weeks, mainly due to me not reading as much as I’d like as I get caught up with my required reading for the MA I’m studying.

But I have still made the time to read at least a page or two every single day, so here is a quick round-up of my reading towards my 50 by 50 Reading Challenge.

Seeing me into double figures, Book 10 in my reading challenge is Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth. This sultry novel features a storyline driven by the searing heat of mid-summer and is delivered through the narrative of Rachel, an increasingly unreliable narrator. Rachel’s teenage daughter’s best friend has gone missing, and as a teacher at the girls’ school, she is very much intertwined in the lives of the group of friends. The book investigates ideas around sexual awakenings, mother-daughter relationships and obsession. Although I initially liked the style of the book, I found it dragged a little, and I felt I couldn’t really find the characters interesting enough to keep me reading.

Book 11 was another play for my MA in English Studies, Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare. This is one of my favourite of Shakespeare’s plays, as I love the ‘character’ of Cleopatra. She is a powerful woman who is brought down by her love for a man, Mark Antony, who in turn is brought down by his passionate affair with Cleopatra. Not exactly light reading, but a classic of Renaissance drama if you feel like indulging in some literature!

Book 12 Jumping the Queue by Mary Wesley. I felt like I needed a bit of light reading from an old favourite after reading and then researching and writing an essay on Antony and Cleopatra! My next book was just that. I have been a fan of Mary Wesley’s books for years, collecting them all. She is a fascinating writer, and her biography is also well worth a read. Wesley didn’t publish her first novel until the age of 70 (though she had written three books for children prior to this) and went on to write ten best sellers before her death at the age of 90.

Some of my favourite Mary Wesley Books

Wesley is probably most famously known for The Camomile Lawn, which was also made into a television series, and which is one of several books set during World War II. Jumping the Queue features a woman in her fifties who has had enough of life, having been widowed a few years earlier. It isn’t at all gloomy, however, as she becomes involved with a murderer on the run and has an adventure. Wesley has a specific writing style which I love; her chapters and paragraphs are short and there is a lot of dialogue and character in them. Her books are the ones I return to the most – along with those of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series – and you can always find one shoved into my bag when I go on holiday!

I’m hoping to start a new book this week, and would love to know if you’ve read any of these titles, or if there is a book you return to for ‘comfort reading’?

Until next time, happy reading : )

Kate x

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