I hadn’t thought that I had read that much in March, what with the new job and the big move and all. But I read 4 books! Only three are pictured in the stack because one was my parents and I obviously didn’t want to take it with me. That’s also why Louise Penny is buried at the bottom of the post because I did take a picture of the book, but it doesn’t match the ~aesthetic~ of the post.
TW: brief mention of suicide in The Midnight Library discussion
These are the other three books I read this month. Two of them are Bad on Paper Podcast book club picks, I guess this makes me a Grace Atwood stan account now. Left to Right: If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, and Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon. Also, just realized this, but all of these were bought at my parents’ local bookstore White Pine Books in Arnprior, Ontario.
If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha. This was the February Bad on Paper Podcast book club pick. It was so good, I did find the ending to be slightly unsatisfactory. I really enjoyed reading about a culture that I know nothing about, what was really interesting is one of the women I volunteer with’s family is from South Korea so I was able to ask her about the plastic surgery culture and if they book was accurate to what she knew. And apparently it is extremely accurate, like she knows of people who get eyelid surgery as high school graduation presents. I wish that the story had gone on for a bit longer, I would have loved to have seen the fallout of Miho’s revenge plan on Hanbin and if she ever showed her art of her late friend to the public or to Hanbin? Do we ever learn if Ara is physically incapable of speech or if it is a trauma response? If it’s a trauma response does she ever regain speech? If she does would that impact her hairdressing career? Does Sujin’s jaw ever fully heal or does it click forever? Does Kyuri become the best plastic surgery receptionist in Seoul and lift them all out of relative poverty? Does Wonna’s husband come back? Does she leave her miserable job? How does she manage working and caring for the baby when she won’t be able to afford childcare?
I love that the ending shows them settled and content in their lives and ready for a late-night of fried chicken and girl talk, I just wish the story seemed more finished. Overall like an 8/10, a very good, fascinating, late night read.
Grace and Becca of Bad on Paper Podcase got to interview Frances Cha, you can listen to it on Spotify or Apple podcasts.
TW: suicide This was the March Bad on Paper Podcast book club pick. I adored this book. I often wonder what my life would be like if several different things hadn’t happened. Like what would my family’s life be like if we hadn’t left Ireland? If we had stayed in Manitoba? In Tennessee? What if my dad had realized that he didn’t like dairy farming in his 20s rather than in his 40s and had started off his career in something else? What if my mom worked outside the home after we moved to North America? What if I had never wanted to be a veterinarian and hadn’t focused my entire academic career on trying to get into vet school?
This book can’t happen without the main character committing suicide at the beginning, the first few pages are heartbreaking. But the rest of them are a story of regret and realizing that your life has worked out the way it was always meant to. I found it to be very reassuring. Everything will be okay. And I think that’s wonderful. I think a 10/10, but definitely avoid if suicide is a trigger for you.
Ok I have to be honest, at time of writing I’m still reading this book, but I’m finishing it tonight (March 31). So far I am loving it. Helene/Nancy/The White Mouse starts off as an Australian journalist freelancing for Hearst Europe in France. We meet here just as Hitler is starting to invade neighboring countries and the SS are brutalizing their populations. She follows a story into the Czechoslovakia and witnesses a SS officer torturing an older Jewish women in the middle of the town square and has a front page story published out of it (anonymously of course, a woman couldn’t write a story like that). Around the same time she meets and marries a man named Henri whose wealth and status give her access to start helping Jews escape France, which eventually turns into her training as a secret agent in England and being dropped into France what seems to be about a year before D-Day.
I am obsessed with Nancy, she is strong, smart, stubborn, willful, gorgeous, brash, and a thoroughly modern woman. She takes charge of every situation that she is in and wins the respect of every man (if begrudgingly) through her hard work, tenacity, toughness, and ability to drink them under the table. Fantastically, she’s based off a real woman, a British (all Australians (and Canadians) at that time were still Brits!) spy, who is the most decorated woman in World War II. I can’t wait to go to bed and finish it tonight! I will update you with a rating when I finish.
Louise Penny is a master of the cozy mystery. This is the first (and I believe likely the only based on the ending) book in the series to have the full story take place outside Quebec. We have followed Gamache to see his children and grandchildren in Paris as both his son, Daniel, and his former partner, Beauvoir (who is now married to his daughter, Annie) have taken jobs in Paris. Annie is pregnant with their second child and Gamache wants to be there for the birth. This ends up being a much bigger and more far-reaching mystery than I was expecting. I think the main theme is a father’s love for his children. Be it a biological child, your best friend’s child, a child who hated his father since he was 9 years old, and through genetic disorder. She tells a beautiful story wrapped in a murder mystery and conspiracy plot by rich people to get richer. 10/10 for Ms. Penny as always.
Did you read anything good this month?