One of the upsides of being the last person in the world to read a hyped book, the dividend of uncool if you like , is that reading it is a well-trodden path. I was aware of the compliments and the critic this book had gotten beforehand and did not go in searching for a brilliant plot or characters that would be my new best friends. I went in looking for charm and atmosphere, and in that regard I think this book delivered.
The watchmaker of Filigree street combines Victorian London with a dash of feudal Japan, watches and it has been pointed out that there is a fair bit of Sherlock Holmes-fangirling going on. All things I approve of. I liked the lovely description of the watches and other devices, to be honest I think the mechanical octopus Katsu was one of the best characters(reminded me of I cat I used to have), the interiors and the time devoted to the small moments. But a great book is rarely made up of stylish vignettes, which is my take away from this. It was charming, and a comfort but could have used more editing. I’m sure it was a joy to write, and there is enough there for me to check kout her next book(which has already arrived or all soon). Until then what?
In the back of the book(because I read every.single.page) there are some suggestions. Let’s talk about those shall we?
Jonathan Strange& Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke; Yes,yes,yes. This is one of my all time favorite books and I encourage everyone to read it at least once, but two or three times is preferable. It gets better with every reading. And I say that as someone who has read it like 6 or 7 times at this point. It’s utterly brilliant in the world building, the language, the narration and the story itself. It combines so many things I want in a book, it truly was love at first read.
A room of one’s own by Virginia Woolf; I’m not surprised by this, I thought about it when reading the Watchmaker as there is a passage in Woolf’s essay, that I recently reread and thus have fresh in memory, that is alluded to in a way. The bit about not walking on the grass. I wish I had marked the exact passage in the Watchmaker but the essence of it “if you can’t walk on the grass, you hop, and if you don’t understand that you don’t get what Oxford is about”. Everyone should read Woolf’s essay, even though I understand that her fiction isn’t for everyone.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton; So.much.this. Catton’s book is genius. I was riveted when I read it. I’m obviously not afraid of big books, but this really had my attention all the way. The interwoven stories of the people in a small mining outpost in New Zeeland manages to be both subtle and violent at the same time, it’s written with a light hand but with a heart for all the characters. Look it up!
The thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell; As I wrote about yesterday I love the world that Mitchell has created in his books, his novels are all independent but also interconnected. And the fight between Horologist and Anchorites is one that I’m invested in. This one starts rather slow but ended in a way I could not have imagined. I will say that maybe The Bone clocks, that came after, is a better place to start.
The Thirteenth tale by Diane Setterfield; Never heard of it but no surprise there, I live under a rock. Will look it up in future.
Tipping the velvet by Sarah Waters; On my TBR. I’ve read other work by Waters (Fingersmith) and enjoy the adventures in the Victorian underbelly that she provides. Best during the dark season so it will have to wait.
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy; My nemesis Hardy. I’ve made two attempts to read Far from the maddening crowd. Will add this, not because this recommendation but because people I know to have exquisite taste in books very múch enjoy him.
The night circus by Erin Morgenstern; When it comes to books that manages to combine an amazing world and a captivating story, this is a great one. I felt for the characters and got deeply invested in the world and the people of the night circus. A very human experience in a magical setting.
Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb; I’ve read most books in this series by Hobb and enjoyed them all thoroughly. It’s one of the few books that I’ve been so in to that my mother got interested and ended up reading them too, with the same verdict. Mind you we are crazy cat people who are already completely sold on the idea of communicating with animals. We needed no convincing of the underlying premise that animals are capable of intelligent conversation(that we are mostly given orders by the cats of our lives is a different story; we are still hoping for more. My cat should at this point be able to have an informed opinion on Proust)
Never where by Neil Gaiman; Can’t go wrong with a bit of Gaiman can we?
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata; I have heard of this and will look for it. Described as almost a novel in haiku about a doomed love affair between rural geisha and a young nobelman sounds like my thing.