Month in Review: September 2019

This month, along with reviewing Oliver Sacks’s ground-breaking Awakenings, I was attracted by a number of new-ish releases, most of which I enjoyed to some degree. I found Quichotte by Salman Rushdie the most disappointing, and Once Upon a River the most pleasantly diverting. The Silence of the Girls provided a relentless dose of Ancient Greek toxic masculinity, just in case you should be in need of such, and The House of Silk a quite enjoyable homage to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories.

Have you read any of these? What have you enjoyed this month?



  • Awakenings by Oliver Sacks was a fascinating and somewhat disturbing read that brought up many questions for me. I will be reading more by this author!


Other Books Read

  • Quichotte by Salman Rushdie
  • Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
  • The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz


Other Features and Events


Shared in the Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer, the Month in Review linkup at The Book Date, and the Monthly Wrap-up Round-up hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction

28 thoughts on “Month in Review: September 2019

  1. I was planning to read Quichotte, but basically every review of it I’ve seen — from friends on the internet to the New York Times — have found it disappointing, so I think I’ll just give it a miss. There are so many other books!


    1. That NYT review — ouch! I have not read much Rushdie to compare, but it does seem to me he must be going downhill. I’m going to move on to other things.


  2. The reviews certainly have been mixed. My husband enjoyed it, though. Midnight’s Children is one of the best book I’ve ever read, but this does sound very light.


    1. I still want to read Midnight’s Children. Sounds as though it had some freshness and originality about it, that by now have become tired and overdone in Rushdie’s work. This is not an uncommon phenomenon, alas.


  3. I was curious about Quichotte, but was put off by the excerpt they featured in the New Yorker, and decided I didn’t need to read it. I’m definitely looking forward to what you think about My Brilliant Career. (And am thinking about reading it for Brona’s AusReadingMonth.


    1. If you did not like the excerpt, I’m pretty sure you would not like the book.

      I finished My Brilliant Career and enjoyed it – it was not quite what I expected! I will look forward to posting my thoughts in November.


  4. My Brilliant Career — so much fun (and the Jane Campion film is great as well — Judy Davis! Sam Neill!!). There’s a sequel — The End of My Career — which is less enjoyable but still worth a read.
    I wasn’t in a rush to read Rushdie’s new book, so you’ve confirmed my decision. But I love his fantasy books — Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and Luka and the Fire of Life.


    1. I loved Haroun too, but for me Luka was disappointing in ways similar to this — what was original and striking in the first book seemed to become old hat and contrived. But the first one was great fun and I also enjoyed reading it aloud when I was teaching children. I think it’s a real modern classic.


  5. Great post! I am really looking forward to reading Quichotte so I am being discouraged by many reviewers who say they do not like it ๐Ÿ™‚ And, oh, I love Oliver Sacks books so much! I highly recommend “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”, “Hallucinations” and “In the Mind’s Eye”. I can re-read his books endlessly.


    1. Well….there are people who loved it, so I don’t want to be unilaterally discouraging. But I think there are much better books that play around with literary tropes and semi-fantastic scenarios. However, often those are in the “fantasy” genre and people who avoid genre fiction get all excited and impressed when someone in the “literary” realm does the same thing, even if it’s not very good. That’s why I think genre barriers are so stupid; they prevent us from judging a book on its own merits.

      I’m excited to read more Oliver Sacks. I’m sure he will not disappoint.


  6. I am glad to hear you enjoyed Once Upon a River. I loved The Thirteenth Tale but while I have bought copies of both Setterfield’s follow ups, I haven’t taken them down and read them yet.

    I read The Silence of the Girls earlier this year. I liked it but expected to hear more from the female voices than I got. Still, it was worth reading and really well written IMO. The scene where Briseus is chanting to Apollo as the god of plague gave me goose bumps. I am also very happy for the introduction to Barker. I had heard high praise for her WWI Regeneration trilogy but not tried it yet.


    1. There were a lot of good elements in Silence of the Girls. My main quibbles were:
      — The somewhat random shifting of the POV from Briseis to Achilles (and occasionally other characters); I think it would have been stronger to either stay with Briseis or do the switching in a more organized way.
      — How the book dealt with Achilles’s mother being a goddess. Again, I think it would have been stronger not to have her appear to the whole army, but be part of Achilles’s mental world only. It could have been ambiguous whether she was really a goddess, or what that meant; Mary Stewart dealt with this kind of thing very effectively in the Theseus books.

      Once Upon a River was a very engaging read. If you do get it down from the shelf, I think you will quickly be drawn in.


    1. It did sound great! For me, the execution was lacking. E.g. the incorporation of other works, such as Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, just came across as weird, clumsy and derivative, rather than interestingly meta-fictional. IMHO anyway.


  7. Once Upon a River and Awakenings intrigue me. I’ve heard of Oliver Sacks before and will head to Goodreads to find out more.


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