I've recently finished reading The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, a novel of manners depicting the merciless nature of high society New York during the Gilded Age (late 19th Century). Lily Bart simultaneously evokes sympathy and frustration as she falls from grace through a combination of bad luck and errors of judgement. It's a beautiful read, and the kind of classic that may have been forced upon you during Year 12 English but is definitely worth revisiting.
I'm also about half-way through American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld. A work of fiction "loosely inspired by the life of an American first lady", Barbara Bush emerges from the pages as a sympathetic protagonist under a different name. It's not a political novel, instead focussing on family relationships and the evolution of a marriage. A good holiday read with some substance.
And, in my usual multi-tasking approach to life, I've also just started reading American Pastoral, the Pulitzer-prize winning novel by Philip Roth. Described as "a profound and personal meditation on the changes in the American psyche over the last fifty years" (Financial Times), I'm up to page 45 and am hooked already.
Other books on my reading list include:
- The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen
- Stephen Fry in America, by Stephen Fry
- Sorrows of an American, by Siri Hustvedt (I love Hustvedt's writing - if you haven't read What I Loved, you must. Hustvedt is married to another author, Paul Auster, and lives in Brooklyn)
- For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
- Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
- Where Did you Get This Number, by Sloane Crosley (I read her debut collection of essays, I Was Told There'd Be Cake, which I found alarmingly funny.)
Do you have any suggestions I should add to the list? I'm after American classics or modern works that offer an insight into American culture beyond something simply set in the US.
PS: One week to go!
PS: One week to go!