The Innocent Libertine, by Colette

18077533I’ve been wanting to read something from Colette for a while, and I was lucky to find this little book, hidden in a second-hand book stand.

This story is divided in two parts, in two different moments in Minne’s life. At first, we found her as a teenager, completely naïve in the eyes of her mother, but not at all in reality, although she might be a little too impressionable. She escaped one night from her home following the delusion that she’s eloping with a fugitive she read about on the newspaper. She went into dark alleys, getting herself lost in the faubourgs, looking for this man, until she realized it was everything on her head. On the second part, we found Minne now married, in her twenties, but utterly bored and unsatisfied. She was having several affairs, trying to find in others what she was missing at home, but still not having what she wanted. Eventually, she will realized her happiness was closer than she thought.

I enjoyed this story, and it was so short!! At the end, I was the one left wanting more!

The Woman Destroyed, by Simone de Beauvoir

13628515This book compiles 3 short stories with certain characteristics in common. The three are led by middle aged women, and they’re centered in their failed relationships. The first one, “Prime of Life”, is about a professor and scholar that has to deal with the changes in thought and ideologies of her only son, and her incapability to accept these changes, confronting his husband’s reactions to the matter. The second one, “Monologue”, is an uninterrupted train of thoughts of a woman that is kept away from her son, who lives with his father, and mourns the death of a teenage daughter, some years ago. And the last one, “The woman destroyed”, is written as the diary of a woman that finds out her husband has been cheating on her with an ambitious and younger lawyer. Although it was a very interesting reading, I felt like I lacked connection with these characters, probably because I’m not even close to their situation in life.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling

9788475967769Rereading this book just made me realize how long has been since I last read the series and that most of my memories of it are actually from the movies. It was practically like reading it for the first time, finding so many forgotten little details and scenes that didn’t get to or were changed in the films.

It was also a very special reading because it was my first time reading an entire novel in catalan! I studied it for three years a long time ago and even when, thanks to the internet, I have the chance to practice a little reading almost every day, reading a literary text is somehow different. I couldn’t but notice every little difference between this and the Spanish translation I grew up with, and was very surprised and amused by some of the choices, which make the whole experience even more entertaining.

Oh, and in case you never read the book or watched the movie: this is Harry’s third year at Hogwarts and it doesn’t get easier for him, as he happens to be surrounded by grim omens (at least, according to the Divination professor) and the menace of this dangerous prisoner who escaped from Azkaban -the terrifying Wizarding World’s jail- with the only goal of find him and kill him.

The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling

17251093“When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?”  (from goodreads)

I LOVED this book, I enjoyed its reading so much!

What I wrote above is what the book says about itself and it’s a great synopsis, but the actual story is so thick and intricate that it’s really hard to put in a few words. Because it’s such a tiny town (“small town, big hell” we say here) every character is intertwined with the rest in so many levels, that the little acts and moves they make affects the entire “ecosystem”. At the beginning goes a little slow, but then I realized it was a necessary measure to present every character and their background and motivations, which make them very real. Once this is done, the story moves forward smoothly but steady, and at the end gains a vertiginous speed and concludes in a very unexpected way. The shock lasts for a while.  

In case you’re interested, there’s a three part adaptation from the BBC, which I watch right after I finished the book but ,honestly, I didn’t like it. There are a lot of things changed, and it feels superficial. But the casting choices are great, the actors looked pretty much how I imagined the characters, so that’s a good point in its favor.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”, by Lena Dunham

20588698Since her series Girls aired some years ago, apparently there’s been two reactions to Lena Dunham and her work (as seen on the internet, at least): you either love her or hate her. I guess you might find me within the first group, and since I knew she wrote a book, I really wanted to read it, and I finally got the chance this past summer. This is an autobiographical nonfiction book, written in the form of short essays organized under general categories, such as “body”, “work”, “family”, “sex”, you know, the usual topics. There’s no much else about it. Maybe if I’d read this some years ago, I would find it somehow enlightening, but not so much now. I still enjoyed the reading, as is always interesting to know about other people’s lives and point of views, to me at least, specially when their upbringing is so different to mine. It was also interesting, though, to found how much of her life, as told by her, I could recognize in her audiovisual work.

62/Modelo para armar, by Julio Cortázar

63066English title: 62: A model kit

Written in 1968, this book was born from Rayuela’s (Hopscotch, 1963) chapter 62, in which an idea for a book, and particularly for its characters and their behaviors, was described. Despite this fact, this is a standalone novel.

Its subtitle refers to the particular way the story is written: In little pieces, like scraps, that were put together in the wrong order. This book doesn’t contain chapters, so the different “scenes” are limited by blank spaces. And then, in each “scene”, usually containing interaction between two or more characters, the narrative point of view may change from a third person to a first person, and then the first person narrator might be changed from one character to the other during the duration of the “scene”. I know this sound confusing, but at the moment, while reading it, it’s easy to keep up with the jumps, because they came in a way that I can’t think another way to described as “smooth and naturally”-

The characters of this story are a heterogeneous group of friends, that most of the time are scattered in different cities, so the action takes place simultaneously at Paris, London and Vienna.  Their relationship and entanglements are what motivates most of the events in the novel. They’re very bond together, but at the same time they’re not (if that makes any sense). It’s our job as readers to try to understand and untangle the actions, the things said, the secrets kept, the thoughts, the emotions, separate reality from dreams and imagination, to understand what is really going on at the end.