#240 The Red Queen

Almost two months since I last finished a book according to this – although it feels like much longer. Sadly studying took over my life and my free time and I had to return a few books I was part way through back to the library – which is made even more of a shame by me finding some of them quite dull, having to get them out again is going to seem like a waste of a rental and I’ll already know what’s in store for me (more tedium) unlike the hope of a new book !
My last exam was on Tuesday and I managed to visit the library later that day to get out some reading material ahead of another away job for the rest of the week. I’ve been wanting to read a book by Margret Drabble for quite a while now – I read a book by A S Byatt and when I was reading about her found out that she and Margret Drabble are sisters – which I thought was remarkable more because I knew they both had books on the list and while that’s obviously not completely unique (Martin and Kinsley Amis) it is unusual. It’s quite a while since I read Possession by A S Byatt and I didn’t really expect their literary styles to be similar; which they weren’t especially.
The Red Queen is split into two parts, one in which the red queen (Lady Hyegyong, Crown Princess of Korea) tells her story to us from beyond the grave (making regular references to her currently ghostly status as she floats around and reads about Louis XVI and Napoleon and whomever else takes her fancy), the other in which the red queen’s story is discovered by Barbra Halliwell, a British Professor, on her way to a conference in Seoul. I was a little disappointed when the narrative switched from the red queen to “Babs” because it seemed like she still had so much more of a story to tell, and took me a while to adjust to Babs as a protagonist after Lady Heygyong but I did after a while (I suppose we shared a mutual interest in the red queen’s story). Both were good stories in their own right: the queen’s spanning decades and Barbara’s only a week but both full of occurrences. They were both quite admirable characters too: more so Babs as the queen introduces herself rather aloofly as an unreliable narrator from the beginning (which I did forget until Babs visits it in her own reflections) and both interesting to read. A good, quick book to mark my return to reading ! I already have two more checked out (and am part way through one) in preparation for another week away next week. I need to do a bit of research before my next visit to the library because at the moment I’m panic picking books from the top of the list – I’m neglecting a lot of older ones – which is one of the disadvantages of just looking at it as a list on my phone instead of being able to leaf through the actual printed 1001 books list.

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