To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Summary: Precocious child and her brother learn some ugly truths about human nature and the world they live in, in a tender coming-of-age tale.
I was not expecting narrator Scout to be a six-year-old girl. Luckily, she’s incredibly intelligent (too much to be believed?) and being introduced to a colourful cast of neighbours through her lens is a delight. Life isn’t easy for her – fierce, proud and too clever for school, she lives for the freedom of summers. She’s forced to grow up quickly, however, when her father is tasked with defending a black man accused of raping a white woman. A sobering look at morality, justice and how reasonable people can lose all reason under certain circumstances.
Tender Is The Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Summary: Rich people flitting around Europe; the disintegration of the marriage between an accomplished doctor and a mental patient.
Meh. That’s really all I can say. I understand this novel is somewhat autobiographical, which probably explains why it wasn’t all that…interesting. Neither the characters nor the plot were in the least engaging. I expected a dramatic tale of creeping insanity; instead there was the slow and depressing deterioration of a relationship, which might have triggered a small twinge – if I had actually cared about either Diver or Nicole.
The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
Summary: The devil comes to Moscow, mayhem ensues.
There are many levels on which you can read this book, considered a modern Russian classic. And I felt I was only reading at quite an elementary level. Those with more knowledge of the Russian Revolution will no doubt get more out of The Master and Margarita, but it certainly highlighted my ignorance of world/religious/political history. It is nutty, weird and wonderful, and I hope to reread it one day with less of it going over my head. My main issue with it was one of confusion: I felt there were too many characters, and Bulgakov’s habit of referring to them by different parts of their (very Russian) names at times only bamboozled me even more. I would love to hear from anyone who’s read this!