January Wrap-Up

The idea of a month-end post to recap the books I've read for the month isn't my idea, actually. One of my Instagram friends posted a collage of her January books with starred ratings for each and I thought, that's a great idea for a blog post, right? Not only is it good content for resurrecting (for the nth time) an idle blog but also, I could write down, bullets-style, my thoughts about the books I've read. Sort of bulleted marginalia. Whatever. 

Anyway, so here are the books I've read for January. Do note that the first one, "The Mirror & The Light," is a spill-over from 2020 but since I finished it during the month, it felt right to include it. (Besides, there are only two books, so.) 

5/5 stars

"The Mirror & The Light" by Hilary Mantel is, as I've mentioned in a previous post, the third and final installment in the Wolf Hall series featuring the life of Thomas Cromwell. 

  • It is the heartbreaking conclusion to the life and career of Cromwell, who has been nothing but a very loyal and obedient servant to Henry VIII of the Tudor line. He orchestrated the divorce of Henry VIII to his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, as well as the execution of Anne Boleyn on mostly trumped-up charges - all at the behest of the king he served. 
  • Perhaps for many, Cromwell deserved the ending he got. But reading this fictionalized account of the years leading up to Cromwell's death will elicit sympathy. After all, he was a servant, like many of his detractors, who only obeyed and served his sovereign. 
  • The details provided by Mantel, at first, felt meandering and unnecessary. But in the end, one will see that they were, indeed, necessary to set up the stage for Cromwell's fall from grace. And what a stage it was!

3/5 stars

"The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose" or, originally, "Who Do You Think You Are?" by Alice Munro was the book club's January read. It isn't my first Munro although (unfortunately) I couldn't remember much about the first collection I read, "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories" which I read in 2018. 
  • I liked how the entire collection revolved around two central characters: Flo and Rose, although majority of the stories were really about Rose. It felt like reading anecdotes about their lives such that each one could be read as a single story, even though you could choose to connect them all together to make up a cohesive life story. 
  • I will concede that Munro's writing is beautiful. She can put all those emotions into words, capture the feelings of the characters perfectly. 
  • However, I felt a certain detachment from the characters. There was a disconnect, like I was reading or hearing about their stories from a distance, like I was holding them at arm's length. 

Two books for January shouldn't be all that bad, and no, I am not just convincing myself. I know it is. February should be much better though, so I will update again at the end of the month. Tata.


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