Persuasion by Jane Austen
I love this story now just as much as I did the first time I read it & it remains my favourite Austen. I was struck by how fresh & modern the story – especially some of the dialogue – remains. Of course the issues addressed are timeless (money, love, resentment, hope, regret, loyalty, mortification, jealousy, vanity) but it’s also about more ordinary people, with motives are way more relatable than some of Austen’s other characters.
No need to try & ignore things which would befuddle us now (Edward Ferrars’ loyalty to a years-old engagement), or things which would rightfully make us dislike a character now (Emma’s manipulative streak; Darcy’s objections to the inferiority of Elizabeth’s birth).
I wish there was a bit less reported action and dialogue – as it is some passages made me want to scream “SHOW DON’T TELL” at the book – but it’s a fairly minor complaint compared to how much I love this story!
Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell
“A witch, a hippy and a vicar walk into a magic shop” sounds like the setup to something quite silly, but there’s a kindness and a humanity to Cornell’s writing – to the way he portrays the characters, their motivations, the town life – that says these people and their stories are important. The conflicts that drive this story aren’t all end of the world stuff, but everything that happens is serious and important to the specific characters it affects and is treated as such.
I was quite impressed with how much Cornell packed in a novella, especially with several POV characters, who all feel pretty well developed. There’s a twist at the end of the novella that just punched me in the feels, one of those twists that makes complete sense once you read it, but couldn’t have guessed before. It makes me want to re-read the book now that I know what’s in store.
In short, I loved this to bits. It was so very, very British and very warm. I can’t wait for the sequel, which is a Christmas story. As a fan of big, traditional British Christmases, I am there with bells on.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Binti was a very engaging protagonist, a smart, capable young woman making a difficult choice and venturing into the unknown. I also really enjoyed the themes of language and translation in this story since those are things I’m interested in and passionate about in general.
The story was very tense and brutal in a way I definitely found effective, but somehow the story didn’t grab me in the same way as it did many SFF bloggers and booktubers I know (and Hugo voters!)
I enjoyed the story, but it didn’t adore it; I was left wanting more, perhaps because of the length of the piece (I’m new to reading novellas, and I’m partial to a big, fat doorstopper). I would definitely read a sequel (it looks like there’s going to be one!), especially something about Binti’s experiences at Oomza Uni.