girl reading

Having just finished reading Girl Reading, by Katie Ward, I am feeling a combination of inspired, altered, and - rare for me - speechless. I was drawn to the cover, drawn to the title, intrigued by the concept on the back of the book (seven girls reading, caught by artists, real and imagined, starting with 14th Century Sienna, through to a photographer in Shoreditch, 2008 - with the eighth segment taking place in the year 2060), and then, the little bio on the book, that the author lives in Suffolk with her husband and cat, and this is her first novel.

Having just finished writing my first novel, as yet unpublished, living in London with my husband and cat, I was intrigued.

Because the thing is, from the moment I started reading it, I was already telling everyone, including strangers on the street, that 'this is the best f*****g book, EVER' - so loudly, so emphatically at times I could see I was scaring people - before I had even finished it. I didn't want to finish it. Like savouring some really good chocolate that you hide from your husband because he'll eat it all (okay - maybe that's just something I'm forced to do), I kept reading slower and slower until finally, today, coming home from a little date night in the rain with my husband, I felt I was ready: bubble bath, with almond oil and sea salt (turns out, that's another of the author's favourite things - bubble baths - but I didn't know it until I read her online bio).. I can't write. She's too good a writer. I am in awe. Her writing voice is so unique, I find myself THINKING like she writers - like a ghost of an image, that lingers on.

And now, having finished it, I just have to wait until she writes her second novel.

I'm inspired now, to do a series of girls reading. This is the first in my Girl Reading series. Forget Fifty Trashy Shades of Bogstandard Pornographic Grey: this is the real deal. THIS is the book I'd take to a desert island, if I was only allowed one. But don't just take my word for it.


Unknown said...

This book sounds absolutely perfect. I love the idea of a repeated image throughout time, and I'm so excited by the quality of writing this book seems to hold. I'm going to put it at the very top of my reading list--sadly right after my required summer reading of Macbeth and Wuthering Heights--and I'm seriously looking forward to it.

jill said...

THanks, Charlotte, for commenting so quickly! Yeah, definitely get Macbeth and Wuthering Heights out of the way ASAP, I guarantee you'll love it.

lawrence said...

Sounds interesting and I absolutely can't wait for your novel to be published! Currently reading Valley of The Dolls and The Unbearable Lightness of Being (I"m loving both!) xxxxx

mtg said...

I'm very intrigued!

Lauren@Styleseer said...

I am intrigued by the concept, too, and can't wait to see what you do with it. You're certainly off to a wonderful start with the photo above and I am off to get my hands on a copy of the book.

Pilar said...

My goodness, its sounds lovely, i'll have to read it now! How recently was it published?

I have been reading your blog for sometime now and as an onlooker to the blogging community I have been inspired to begin my own blog. If you get a chance I would love if you would look at what I've begun. It's not much yet but hopefully it will flourish. Perhaps you will have some advise for someone new in this sort of thing. Merci.

LeahB said...

LOL, did you just quote LeVar Burton of Reading Rainbow with your last sentence?!!

I'm about finished with The Good Soldier... was going to hit a Ray Bradbury next, but I think I may have to bump him down to make room for your suggestion. I mean, if it's causing you to get riotous on the streets about it I simply must check it out!

Thanks for the tip!

jill said...

If I did, LeahB, it was completely unintentional! I never heard of LeVar Burton, but now I'm desperately in need of a new book - is it good?

I don't know the Good Soldier, either. Lawrence that is such a curious reading list of two: I can't think of two more diamametrically (how the HELL do you spell that?) opposed books than Valley of the Dolls and the Unbearable Lightness of Being. In fact you've just inspired the theme for a great post (or series of posts); diametric opposites!

Ava, I've checked out your blog - it's GORGEOUS and I'm adding it to my blog roll and following you, and anyone reading this, check it out, it's beautiful:
'negative capability' http://avapilar.blogspot.co.uk/

LeahB said...

Oh, sorry, Reading Rainbow was a kids show from the 80s that highlighted different children's books. It was cute, and I'd probably sit down and watch it now if it was still on tv! Anyways, that was LeVar's signature line!

The Foolish Aesthete said...

Hi Jill!

I'm completely intrigued now about this book after your review, and also after I see -- barely making out the small type above the title there -- that Hilary Mantel has given her thumbs up to it. I just began Mantel's sequel to Wolf Hall (which took me a while to warm to but ended up enjoying immensely). I was planning to pick up "Song of Achilles" afterwards but am now wondering whether to squeeze Girl Reading in first!

And thanks for your lovely words on my blog. It is interesting that you remember your father in his library, writing. That is how my dad still is. It's my dad surrounded by walls of books, stacks of paper. His organized chaos that no one is allowed to touch.

My mom had her fair share of the same, and even more stacks of paper. But my memory of her is lying on her stomach, reading. On the bed. On the grass. That was her favorite position when savoring a book, or critiquing an academic paper. The equivalent of your girl in the photo here, lost in her book on a summer's day.

Here's to a summer savoring words as they roll of the pages ... -- J xxx