Ok, it might be the middle of July, but it’s time for some reminiscence. I spent a good chunk of June on holiday in France (I know, #humblebrag) and so I had even more time to indulge in some good quality relaxation…in the form of reading! The books I read June were definitely chosen with a theme in mind, and that was France!
Another major event that influenced the books I read in June was Brexit. By now the whole world is aware of the momentous referendum that took place in June here in the UK. I found that when faced with huge, and scary changes, I craved a bit of escapism from my favourite genre Regency Romance! So, the latter part of my round-up is almost entirely dedicated to it! Anyway, without further ado, I bring you the monthly round-up of all the books I read in June.
Lady Susan by Jane Austen
This small novella kicks off the books I read in June. Lady Susan was written by a young Jane Austen around 1794 and takes the form of an epistolary novel. Interestingly, she never gave it a name. Lady Susan was later added as its title by her family when it was published in 1871. Nevertheless, it’s a short, witty, at times risqué book that showcases Jane Austen’s budding talent for comedy, and writing in general.
For lovers of the big five Austen works, this book will come as something of a departure. It definitely has more in common with the comic courtship novels of the late eighteenth century than it does with the more refined, marriage novels that define Austen’s later career. I’m thinking of Mansfield Park in particular here!
But, since they just made a film of the book (Love and Friendship), it’s the perfect time to settle down and read it. You could easily get through this book on a lazy Sunday afternoon, as it’s only short. I found it interesting to note how well the style reflects the moment it was written in. It shows that even the greatest novelists can be influenced by popular fiction of their time.
Madame Will You Walk by Mary Stewart
For my trip to Provence, I was keen to read a book that was set there. So, I was delighted to come across Mary Stewart’s delightful mystery ‘Madame Will You Walk’. I have never read anything by Mary Stewart before, but I can definitely say this won’t be my only foray into her extensive back catalogue.
Set in the 1950s, Madame Will You Walk captures the glamour and intrigue of the French Riviera perfectly, glistening Bentleys sweep around the steep winding roads of Provence, and the women are all attired in Dior and Chanel. Of course, the tone of the book is a little dated, but I found this added to its charm. The mystery itself was well crafted and well plotted, Mary Stewart’s sense of atmosphere and pace is excellent. Although I was more than a little alarmed when the heroine declared herself in love after only two conversations with a man!
Overall, if you love classic crime novels of the Agatha Christie ilk, I would thoroughly recommend this book, and its author to you.
The Lost Estate by Henri Alain-Fournier
I will confess that my main attraction to this book had more to do with the author than the plot. The Lost Estate, also known as Le Grand Meaulnes, is the only book Henri Alain-Fournier wrote. It was published in 1913, shortly before the start of the First World War, where he was tragically killed.
With this context in mind, I found that the book was pervaded by a sense of bittersweet melancholy. It depicts a time of innocence that the author felt was lost forever, and would be totally eradicated by four years of war. Written as a series of flashbacks, it tracks the lives of two characters François Seurel and Augustin Meaulnes as the latter searches for his lost love.
With more than the air of a fairy-tale about it, The Lost Estate is the kind of book that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it. .
Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
This was my favourite of all the books I read in June. I have such a soft spot for a good Regency Romance, and Julia Quinn is one of the best living authors in this genre in my opinion. She can’t quite reach the heights of Georgette Heyer, but then…I don’t know if anyone will. I was more than a little excited to see that she was revisiting her most famous literary family, The Bridgertons!
For those of your out there who have no clue what I’m talking about, The Bridgertons are a loud, boisterous, and huge family, each with their own book. Because of Miss Bridgerton takes the action back a generation to focus of Billie (Sybilla) Bridgerton as she tries desperately not to fall in love with the most infuriating man of her acquaintance George Rokesby.
I read most of this book over the course of a long (eight-hour) car journey through France to the ferry. It was the perfect antidote! I became so absorbed in the story that at one point I looked up and realised I had been reading for a solid four hours without lifting my head from the page once! I was sad to finish, but excited to find out that Because of Miss Bridgerton is the first in trilogy featuring the Rokesby Brothers. That’s the thing about Julia Quinn, you can always count on her to write a good series!
Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn
Ok, so I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to the Regency Romance. And since I still had another day of travelling to go, you’ll have to forgive me for indulging in another one of her books. Back to Back Regency Romance reading, what better way to spend two days in the car? I did forget to take a picture of it though, oops!
Just Like Heaven is the first of another series, this time the Smythe-Smyth quartet. It features some lovable characters who popped up in the Bridgerton novels and deserved their own happy endings (seriously, if you start reading Julia Quinn, be prepared to fall down a rabbit hole of regency romance!).
I loved this book. I was actually tempted to name it as my favourite book I read in June instead of Because of Miss Bridgerton. It’s not often an author can make a heroine called Honoria who enjoys playing by the rules seem identifiable. But I loved Honoria. I loved that she is terrible at playing the violin despite being part of a musical quarter and I loved how dedicated she was to her family. Additionally, the love story between Honoria and Marcus is also pretty perfect. Fine, I think I’m calling it a tie. Two Books can share my top spot this month!
A Mistress for Major Bartlett by Annie Burrows
You may recall that last month I began a series set during the battle of Waterloo. This was the final book in the trio and definitely aided my post-Brexit escapism campaign. I really enjoyed the final instalment of the series, although I found it to be the least believable plot line of the three.
I see you rolling your eyes there, of course no regency romance is ever 100% believable but I just couldn’t quite see how a society miss in 1816 would be quite so ready to give up her reputation for a brief affair (so she thinks). Quibbles aside, as a work of pure literary escapism, this is a good book. The romance was well depicted and I enjoyed the dialogue that flowed between Sarah and Tom.
And so wraps up your instalment of ‘Books I Read in June’
What is your the genre that you can count on the cheer you up?
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