What I’m Reading This Week: 3rd November, 2014

My next week is a bit of a strange one, destined to be full of long car journeys and nights out. As a result, I’m not expecting to get much reading done but plan on filling up my time on the road with listening instead. Thanks to my local library who let me download books online, which is a real time saver but also provides access to more books than I can find at my local branch, queued up and ready to go are:

The Book: Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses by Alison Weir

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The Blurb: The war between the houses of Lancaster and York for the throne of England convulsed the kingdom between 1455 and 1487. This book focuses on the human side of history, on the people and personalities involved in the conflict. At the centre of the book stand Henry VI, the pious King whose mental instability led to political chaos; Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York and Henry’s rival; and most important of all, Margaret of Anjou, Henry’s wife, who took up arms in her husband’s cause and battled for many years in a violent man’s world.

The Reason: It is another book about one of my favourite periods of English history and, although Alison Weir wrote it 20 years ago and is one of my favourite non-fiction/historical authors, this is not one I’ve read.

The Book: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

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The Blurb: In Homer’s account in The Odyssey, Penelope–wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy–is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages. Left alone for twenty years when Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan War after the abduction of Helen, Penelope manages, in the face of scandalous rumors, to maintain the kingdom of Ithaca, bring up her wayward son, and keep over a hundred suitors at bay, simultaneously. When Odysseus finally comes home after enduring hardships, overcoming monsters, and sleeping with goddesses, he kills her suitors and–curiously–twelve of her maids.

In a splendid contemporary twist to the ancient story, Margaret Atwood has chosen to give the telling of it to Penelope and to her twelve hanged maids, asking: “What led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to?” In Atwood’s dazzling, playful retelling, the story becomes as wise and compassionate as it is haunting, and as wildly entertaining as it is disturbing. With wit and verve, drawing on the story-telling and poetic talent for which she herself is renowned, she gives Penelope new life and reality–and sets out to provide an answer to an ancient mystery.

The Reason: Since I’ve started to listen to books, they’ve all been non-fiction and I wanted to give fiction a try. I love Margaret Atwood but remember struggling with this book when it came out many moons ago. I thought it would be interesting to hear rather than read it and see if more of the story sank in.

And that’s it for this week. Both books, whilst oldies will hopefully be goodies. Also, if I have time, I might pick up my latest Classic Club Read, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton and will hopefully get to do a bit of blogging reading and writing.

What’s on your reading list this week?

Emma x

As with last week, I’m linking in with Sheila at Book Journey, who has a weekly post I’ve enjoyed following – It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Click on the link to find out what Sheila and other book bloggers are reading.

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