Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers and other bookish bods to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles and new bloggers.
Today's guest is Claire from Paperback Reader.
I know Claire personally, as we both belong to the same book group.
Originally from Glasgow, Claire now lives in London with her long-term boyfriend. She tells me she's "looking forward to the pitter-patter of tiny paws and a ring on my finger". A literature graduate, she's doggedly pursuing an elusive career in book publishing.
She loves red wine, good food and, of course, books.
Without further ado, here's Claire's Triple Choice Tuesday selections:
Whenever I am asked to name a favourite book, I feel as if I am on the spot like a rabbit in the headlights. Narrow my favourite books down to only one?! It's a near-impossible feat but I went for the less obvious favourite and one of the most recent book to acquire the status, and chose The Group.
Reissued late last year by my favourite publisher, Virago, The Group revolves around eight female friends and recent graduates of Vassar in 1930s New York. Intelligent, satirical and exceedingly witty, The Group is a saga that is as educational as it is entertaining.
The novel was highly progressive in its open treatment of motherhood, sex, contraception, and marriage and also discusses Socialism and Communism, Lesbianism, race and mental illness amongst the socio-economic backdrop of 1930s New York. The women are mainly affluent and educated but, as women, are limited and stifled in society; McCarthy provides a historical insight into my favourite period, and evokes it exceptionally well.
Anyone who knows me or is familiar with my blog won't be surprised that I have chosen an Angela Carter novel. Nights at the Circus was my first foray in Carter's lush prose and one year later I was writing my Master's thesis on her work; the book literally changed my world and it has very much remained a favourite in my esteem and affection. My love for Carter is entirely as a result of having read this book.
Set in 1899 London and moving to St Petersburg and Siberia, Nights at the Circus is a carnivalesque, feminist and magical realist novel. Fevvers, the novel's protagonist, is a celebrated winged aerialist and leading attraction at a circus. Hatched from an egg, Fevvers sprouted wings when she was menstruating and a virgin raised in a brothel; she is Cockney, larger-than-life — literally — at over six feet in her stocking-feet and peroxide blonde.
A university lecturer of mine recommended this book to me and when he suggested a book, I paid attention (previous suggestions included Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark and the majority of the Irish literary canon). I love Boyle's writing and not merely because we share a surname.
Drop City would make a fantastic reading choice for summer and its front cover is a hoot. The story is set in a 1970s Californian commune, where the inhabitants live a relaxed existence, practising free love and doing drugs. Following a series of ugly events, the group move north to Alaska, planning on recreating their commune there and cultural clashes with the locals ensue.
I read Drop City about five years ago and it has remained vividly in my memory; Boyle's writing is stunning and he evoked lifestyles and landscapes unfamiliar to me with apparent ease. I think his work in general should be more well-known but I highly recommend this novel.
Thanks, Claire, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!
What do you think of Claire's choices? Have you read any of these books? I've been dying to read The Group ever since I spied Betty Draper from Mad Men reading it! And it was Claire who encouraged me to try my first Angela Carter earlier this year, so Nights at the Circus has gone on my wishlist. I'm also a TC Boyle fan, but have not read Drop City: it sounds like I need to rectify that, too.