'Try lipstick shades to tranquilize'
October in review
‘Try lipstick shades to tranquilize
Fears of age and general dreads.’
From ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ by Dorothea Tanning
It’s time for this month’s review of the best reading, watching, and listening! This is an extra end-of-the-month post for all subscribers. If you enjoy this post, please consider a free or paid subscription to receive weekly literary discussions straight into your inbox.
Something about walking in autumn always lights me up with excitement about new projects. I think a lot of this has to do with the wonderful array of colours in the ancient trees all around where I live. Maybe also the arrival of lots of new fresh-faced students to the two local universities close by (is it just me, or are students looking younger these days??)
Whatever it is, I like to go with the flow and try to incorporate some of this new season enthusiasm into my life!
This has been a bit of a bumper month for reading and watching, so, on with this month’s review…
What I’ve been watching
This month, we came across a series on BBC iPlayer called The Split. The series (which is a couple of years old) follows three sisters and their mother who own a family law firm. It examines marriage, divorce, family, and relationships between those closest to us. I don’t mind admitting to blubbering my way through several of the episodes! Nicola Walker is fantastic as the central character around which the stories evolve, and the episodes are filled with darkness and light, just as good drama should be!
We just this weekend also finished watching the four-part drama series Boiling Point (based on the 2021 film of the same name). This fast-paced drama is set in a restaurant kitchen and delves into the lives of the staff who run it. It contains some serious themes, and it really got my heart racing with the one-lens cinematography and fast movement of the characters! Highly recommend.
What I’ve been reading
This month, I enjoyed flying through the pages of The Guest by Emma Cline, which I was even inspired to write about here. The book was a real page-turner, as was Cline’s earlier bestseller The Girls. She definitely knows how to write a page-turner, as well as representing the vulnerabilities of young women and sex. Although, as I said in my earlier piece, I didn’t find the book completely fulfilling, I did enjoy it.
I have also just finished reading The Truants by Kate Weinberg, which was another fast-moving novel, and which I have mixed feelings about. I am looking at writing about this in an upcoming newsletter, so won’t say too much for now!
On Substack this month
This month, I have also researched and written newsletters covering ideas from Sibling Rivalry to Impostor Syndrome, which sparked some lively conversations in the comments section! One on Claudia Jones, the writer and activist, who fought for the inclusion of Black working women on the political agenda was an inspiring piece to write, and my piece on Re-reading got a lot of subscribers talking about returning to their favourite books!
When I first started sending work out to journals and websites around ten years ago, nothing could beat the thrill of seeing my work in print, like many of my literary heroes had written. Rising costs of publication is one of the driving factors behind the decline, as well as the thirst for online content, which I get. I read many more articles online than in paper magazines these days, too. Which is why I think it’s so important to support independent writers on this platform. But this piece looks at one magazine editor who is determined to buck the trend.
This review about a new book of short stories, Wednesday’s Child, around the topic of mothering by Yiyun Li caught my eye, and I now have the book on hotly awaited order from my local library!
And this piece on the release of a collection of writings by the Brixton Black Women’s Group, part of the British Black Panther movement, marks the 50th anniversary of their revolutionary organisation.
In honour of Halloween, this piece on Shirley Jackson’s horror and how it speaks to our times was of interest. Her stories linger in the mind and I find once read, never forgotten. A fascinating deep dive into Jackson’s work was also to be found on Haley Larsen’s Closely Reading this month. And for any fans of dystopian novels, I was interested to hear about a new novel re-telling of Nineteen Eighty-Four from a female point of view.
As a die-hard fan of the First Lady of Pop, Madonna, I was interested to hear about this new biography, written by Mary Gabriel, a pop historian rather than a fan. I think this should prove an interesting angle to consider the pop icon from.
And finally, my favourite article this month was not about any of the many wonderful female writers I research here on the newsletter; nor was it about women’s issues or topics around motherhood with which I often dedicate my reading time.
Nope. It was simply about the most enduring of British characters (and a personal, life-long love of mine), Paddington Bear. Yes, Paddington hits 65 years old this year, and his popularity shows no signs of abating, with a new London ‘experience’ currently in the making. He will always have a special place in my childhood heart 😍
Back Sunday with another literary discussion 😀
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