Wrap Up March 2020 or it’s Women’s Prize Season!

March was weird, I am sure everybody will agree. And I am not sure April will be any less weird but maybe I will be more used to the weirdness by then? In positive news, the longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction was announced and I have started making my way through it – and for the most part I have enjoyed the books so far, although I am weary if that’ll stay that way.

Books I read in March:

  1. Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey: 2 out of 5 stars
  2. A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes: 4 out of 5 stars (review)
  3. Weather by Jenny Offil: 4 out of 5 stars (review)
  4. Actress by Anne Enright: 4.5 out of 5 stars (review)
  5. Verge by Lidia Yuknavitch: 3 out of 5 stars
  6. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett: 1.5 out of 5 stars (review)
  7. Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby: 4 out of 5 stars
  8. Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie: 2 out of  5 stars

Favourite of the Month:

Actress. I did not think I would like this book and was then very happy when I did. It is so far my favourite of the longlisted books.

Stats(ish):

I finished eight books in March, all of them written by women. Of these books five were on the Women’s Prize longlist and thus fiction. I also read one romance novel, one short story collection, and one memoir. I also spent a lot of my time re-reading parts of the Psy-Changeling series because those books always make me happy. I did not completely read any of those books though.

Currently Reading:

Books I should get to soon:

I am still kind of planning to finish the Women’s Prize longlist (except for the Mantel) before the shortlist is announced on the 22nd. I am unsure whether that is at all doable but I am still going to try my best.

Women’s Prize coverage by other bloggers:

Rachel, Callum, Naty, Marija, Emily, Gilana, Laura

27 thoughts on “Wrap Up March 2020 or it’s Women’s Prize Season!

  1. I am weirdly glad to hear that you found Nightingale Point as underwhelming as I did, and look forward to your thoughts if you write them up!

    I’m about 100 pages into Actress and I’m struggling 😦 😦 I can see that it’s impeccably written and the characterisation is wonderful but I just can’t warm to it. I hope it will pick up in the second half.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I kept returning to your review – you are so right on all your points! While I didn’t absolutely hate it, I agree that it just not a very good book. I am a bit baffled by its inclusion on the longlist.
      I am starting to realize through this longlist experience that I mostly care about prose and structure in literary fiction – which is why Actress worked so well for me, even if I admit that the plot is not the most exciting one. Sadly the judges seem to prefer honest depictions of characters’ complicated relationships.

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      1. Thank you! The list feels very samey to me so far, and definitely more so than other years, although perhaps it’s just a matter of the judges’ tastes not fitting well with mine. There’s so much on intergenerational family relationships, which is not a theme that especially excites me. Plus the three war novels!

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      2. Yes! SO many family sagas. Which is just not my type of thing. I joked last year that there were many obvious pairs but this year we have the huge crop of “parents are awful” books, the “trauma porn” books, and a handful of other books. I cannot believe I am rooting for the big names but I really am.

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      3. Yes, the only book I’m strongly ‘rooting’ for at this point is the Evaristo (even though it already won the Booker!) but I did very much enjoy the Carty-Williams, Lee and Anappara.

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  2. I really enjoyed Red At the Bone! I hope that you do too.

    I would also love to hear what you think of The Shining Girls – I am from South Africa and I haven’t read any Lauren Beukes, which is something that I really should have done by now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am really enjoying Red at the Bone! I am not that great at reading physical books at the moment which is the only reason I haven’t finished it yet.
      I am really enjoying The Shining Girls but keep thinking that I would love it more if it was set in South Africa; I cannot quite put my fingers on why.
      I have read her short fiction before and really wanted to finally get to one of her longer works. I really like her prose and her imagination!

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  3. Thanks for the shoutout! And it looks like you’ve had a great reading month and chipping away a decent number of books from the longlist. Fingers crossed that we’ll be able to finish the rest before the longlist is announced. 🙂 And yes, hopefully we’ll be more used to the weirdness by April.

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  4. All of our Wrap Ups are Women Prize central 😅 and I am sad to see that you did not like Love Her or Lose Her, I thought that one might be good but alas. I hope you like Red at the Bone, and I am so interested to see how you feel abour The Unspoken Name, that one has gotten a lot of good buzz.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking about how my ratings for romance novels are different to my ratings of other genres. Because I enjoyed Love Her or Lose her SO much more than Nightingale Point. But compared to Bailey’s other books (and I have read SO MANY of them) it just didn’t quite measure up – mostly because second chance romance is always a tough sell for me.
      The Unspoken Name is REALLY good but I am not quite able to concentrate on intricate worldbuilding at the moment. It is actually close to a five star read for me whenever I do read parts of it.

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    1. Blue Ticket is really excellent. But I can already see it getting the same criticism as her debut – as a dystopia it does not quite work, but I find her prose and her character work so very excellent. I am also not sure that she has any interest in the mechanics of her dystopian worlds except for how they influence her characters’ behaviour.

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  5. Looks like you had a great reading month! It is always so exciting to see everyone’s Women’s Prize reviews coming out – Queenie & Girl, Woman, Other have been my favourites so far. I was planning on heading to The Dutch House next but after reading your review I’m a bit nervous as there is nothing I hate more than flat, underdeveloped characters. Hmm we’ll see how it goes! Happy reading x

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    1. Girl, Woman,, Other is SUCH a good book! It was the only one I had read before the longlist announcement and I would be very pleased if it won (more so actually than the Enright, even if I enjoyed that more – Evaristo has really created something astonishing). To be fair – The Dutch House was never going to be a favourite of mine – I rarely like either historical fiction or family sagas.

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    1. I am worried that Actress and GWO will the only two books I genuinely think are great on this year’s list (as well as the Mantel, which I have definitely decided against reading) and that from now on I will mostly have 2 and 3 star reads.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am really enjoying it – but I keep wondering why she set it in the US rather than in South Africa. The sense of place doesn’t really work for me. But I do find her writing spectacular; I knew that going in, having enjoyed a few of her short stories. But I can also see how the book might not work for other readers.

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  6. Thanks for the mention! 🙂 I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the longlist throughout April. Some of your higher ratings (Actress, A Thousand Ships) are books I’m saving for close to the end and hoping to love. Best of luck with finishing the titles you want to before the shortlist announcement!
    (Also, I hope Blue Ticket is excellent!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am a bit wary of the books I still have to read but maybe my lowered expectations will help?
      Blue Ticket is excellent! I haven’t picked it up in a while (trying to focus what little focus I have on the WP books) but her prose got even better and I do really like what she does with her dystopian settings (I seem to be in the minority but I appreciate that she uses dystopian settings to focus on human behaviour and feelings rather than on political points).

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      1. Lowered expectations have helped me a couple of times already (Fleishman and Dominicana) so I definitely think that’s a beneficial approach.

        And yay! I loved The Water Cure and have really been looking forward to this new release. I also really liked the way she used Water Cure’s setting to look at behavior separate from society rather than trying to reflect modern politics onto it, so it is very encouraging to hear she’s doing that again!

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