What We’re Reading

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on or the music we’re loving.

Belle is reading The Gentlewoman

gentlewoman The Gentlewoman is one of my favourite magazines – there’s really nothing I don’t like about it, right down to the colour palette (think lots of Memphis-toned pastels). Published biannually, each issue observes ‘modern women of style and purpose’. This current issue we find the heavenly French actress Léa Seydoux on the cover – she stars in this year’s Palme d’Or-winning (and controversial) Blue Is the Warmest Colour. The other women profiled are decidedly grown-up. This eighth issue features: businesswoman Martha Stewart; smart and grounded accessories designer Katie Hillier; legendary model-cum-dancer Pat Cleveland; and the portrait painter Elizabeth Peyton.

I adore the attention paid to the details in this magazine; the captions which accompany the fashion photography is polished and clever (and often very funny), and the short-form columns that open each issue, like Modern Details, are sensationally original, offering intelligent commentary on objects such as butter lettuce or black napkins (seriously). This is a classy publication: smart, warm, accomplished, witty and good looking – for me, the perfect mentor.

Nina is reading Cartwheel

cartwheel I’m reading Cartwheel, a novel coming out this November. It’s loosely based on the true story of the infamous Amanda Knox case, where an American student on exchange in Italy was arrested for the murder of her roommate. The story was a global press sensation, and the trial went on for years (you can read the whole thing in Amanda’s memoir of her experience).

Cartwheel, while entirely fictional and set in Argentina, hits some very familiar beats. Lily is an American exchange student who is arrested for her roommate’s murder, and the novel’s cast of characters – Lily’s boyfriend, her work colleagues, her family, the police investigator – echo a similar cast of characters in the real Amanda Knox case.

Cartwheel’s strengths lie in its structure. It moves through various points of view – Lily, her father, her boyfriend, the police investigator – and it’s fascinating to watch the same event and the same person be interpreted entirely differently from another perspective. I have no idea how it is going to end and I can’t wait to find out.

Scott is reading Days in the History of Silence

days-history-silencePainful secrets and memories surface in this fine, beautifully written domestic novel about a couple who have kept hidden their respective histories from their community and indeed, even their own children.

Translated from the Norwegian, Days in the History of Silence won the 2012 Nordic Council Literature Prize, and will stay with you long after you put the book down.

The review in Dagbladet (a newspaper in Norway) reads:

It is impressive how Lindstrøm composes a small chamber play, and reflects an existence so fragile and delicate without having to resort to big words. … The language is simple, elegant and pleasant, but the mood so suggestive in its silent drama. Lindstrøm is known as a refined short-story writer, here she shows to the fullest that she also masters the larger canvas.