1 February 2018 Susannah

A Cracking Start to 2018

A cracking start to 2018

My reading year has gotten off to a cracking start. Let me share with you some of the books I’ve really enjoyed:

A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888 – 1903 by Redmer Yska. I thought I knew a lot about New Zealand’s greatest writer and I even some years ago recorded a CD for a British recording company on Mansfield’s life and writings (you can buy my CD Finding Katherine Mansfield here), but this book was a real eye-opener.

Yska writes in a very compelling way, gives an all too vivid picture of the sanitary conditions in Wellington, and tells of his own discovery of a previously unknown Mansfield story in some archives – that was just thrilling. A fresh, original, beautifully produced book that was an enthralling read from start to finish.

Footsteps by The New York Times. This fabulous book came to me via people who had house-swapped with my Dad, and I am very grateful to them for making me aware of it. A gem of a book, with a wonderful variety of essays from writers for The New York Times about following in the footsteps of famous writers. Some were extremely familiar to me – L.M. Montgomery on Prince Edward Island, for example, but others were writers of whom I knew little and it was a joy to follow Orhan Pamuk in Istanbul, Elena Ferrante in Naples, and Dashiell Hammett in San Francisco. I have walked in Mark Twain’s footsteps in Connecticut, but never in Hawaii – another wonderful essay. I loved this book!

Stealing the Scream: The Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick. In February 1994 a man climbed a ladder outside the National Gallery in Oslo, smashed a window and stole Munch’s famous painting ‘The Scream’ from the wall. A minute later he was down the ladder and gone, while the security guard in the basement ignored it all as a false alarm. This book is about getting the painting back, a job handed to an extraordinary man called Charlie Hill who has retrieved several famous art works. The book tells the amazing tale of getting back the Munch, but also takes you on a journey through the murky world of art theft. I found it fascinating.

I can recommend all three of the above. I just hope the rest of my reading this year proves half as good.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Selected links for relevant websites, books, movies, videos, and more. Some of these links lead to protected content on this website, learn more about that here.

Susannah Fullerton: Finding Katherine Mansfield, audio-CD
Susannah Fullerton: HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Katherine Mansfield
Susannah Fullerton: A Burning Dilemma for Redmer Yska

A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888 – 1903 by Redmer Yska.
Footsteps by The New York Times
Stealing the Scream: The Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick

I only recommend books I have read and know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.

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Comments (8)

  1. Cate

    Thank you so much Susannah for your newsletters – always such a treat to receive! I have just downloaded your Guide to Anne Bronte – I am going to make a pot of my favourite Darjeeling tea to accompany my reading. I was interested in your commments about Footprints- it sounds fascinating – and I have ordered it. And maybe I too will re-read Persuasion now you have given me a push.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I am delighted you enjoy my newsletters and reading guides, Cate. Thanks for your support.
      And how wonderful to re-read ‘Persuasion’. You can imagine yourself on the Cobb at Lyme Regis and in Bath as you read.

  2. Margarita Frizza

    Always looking forward to the first day of the month-your newsletter is a treat!
    Just a little comment on the topic from the last month about home libraries which I loved a lot.
    There was an interesting article In SMH on Saturday about new State Librarian-Dr Vallance with a picture of his library to match.
    He is a fascinating man, great lover of books. My sons went to school where he was a headmaster.
    There is a link


    My recent reading list:
    “Frenchman’s creek”
    “My cousin Rachel”
    I think you can guess what lecture I was inspired by.

    Kind regards,

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, I read the article about John Vallance and found it fascinating. I know his very charming wife Catherine, and I hope that I might persuade John to come and give a talk to JASA, as he loves the novels of Jane Austen.
      What nice Daphne du Maurier reading you have had. I recently found at the library a beautifully read audio version of her novel ‘Hungry Hill’, one I’d never read before. It was fascinating – in many ways very different from her other books.
      I am delighted you enjoy my newsletter.

  3. Lisa Taylor

    Great book recommendations Susannah. I have never read any Mansfield books so I will try to remedy this in 2018 and I love the sound of Footsteps.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Katherine Mansfield is one of the world’s great short story writers. Try her story ‘ The Doll’s House’ or ‘Miss Brill’. They are quite superb. Virginia Woolf famously said that the only writer she ever felt jealous of was Katherine Mansfield. If you order my CD ‘ Finding Katherine Mansfield’, I hope it gives some idea of why she is such an extraordinary writer. And her life was amazing – try Claire Tomalin’s biography, or Redmer Yska’s fabulous new book.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      It’s the problem faced by every good reader – too many books, not enough time!

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