I’m extremely excited about this TBR because May is the month in which my sophomore year of college ends and my summer begins, which means I’ll have a lot more time to read for fun.
As an English major, I appreciate the novels we’re assigned to read, but it’s nice to have the flexibility of choosing your own reading list for a while. I’m looking to explore a variety of genres this month, from historical fiction to horror. Though I did, in fact, take much of my inspiration from my English classes when putting it together.
Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters
Synopsis: Nan King, an oyster girl, is captivated by the music hall phenomenon Kitty Butler, a male impersonator extraordinaire treading the boards in Canterbury. Through a friend at the box office, Nan manages to visit all her shows and finally meet her heroine. Soon after, she becomes Kitty’s dresser and the two head for the bright lights of Leicester Square where they begin a glittering career as music-hall stars in an all-singing and dancing double act. At the same time, behind closed doors, they admit their attraction to each other and their affair begins.
Thoughts: The last novel that I was assigned to read for one of my English classes happened to be Affinity by Sarah Waters and it blew my mind. So much so that I dedicated my final paper to it. It was my first time reading anything by Waters, and I wish I had been introduced to such a talented writer earlier. I settled on reading Tipping the Velvet because it was the first book she’s written.
The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli, Alyssa Palombo
Synopsis: A girl as beautiful as Simonetta Cattaneo never wants for marriage proposals in 15th Century Italy, but she jumps at the chance to marry Marco Vespucci. Marco is young, handsome and well-educated. Not to mention he is one of the powerful Medici family’s favored circle.
Even before her marriage with Marco is set, Simonetta is swept up into Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici’s glittering circle of politicians, poets, artists, and philosophers. The men of Florence―most notably the rakish Giuliano de’ Medici―become enthralled with her beauty. That she is educated and an ardent reader of poetry makes her more desirable and fashionable still. But it is her acquaintance with a young painter, Sandro Botticelli, which strikes her heart most. Botticelli immediately invites Simonetta, newly proclaimed the most beautiful woman in Florence, to pose for him. As Simonetta learns to navigate her marriage, her place in Florentine society, and the politics of beauty and desire, she and Botticelli develop a passionate intimacy, one that leads to her immortalization in his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus.
Thoughts: While I was compiling a list of novels to add to this year’s historical fiction radar, this was the one that stood out to me the most. I am a huge fan of anything involving Italy or Italian-related, and the Medicis have always been a source of fascination for me. I have also already read Alyssa Palombo‘s novel The Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi, which I thought was incredibly well-written and engrossing. I know that this will be beautiful novel as well and I can’t wait to read it.
The Vegetarian, Han Kang
Synopsis: Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a mghtore “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.
Thoughts: This book has been on my radar for a long time so I decided that I should finally take the jump and make it my intention to read it soon. The premise just sounds so incredibly unique that I have to experience it. This isn’t something that I would normally read, however, but I know it’s always good to read outside my boundaries sometimes.
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
Synopsis: Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead and subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
Thoughts: As an English major, I always have the nagging sensation that I should be reading more of the classics. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I have yet to read a work written by any of the Brontë sisters. I’m hoping to change that this month. I selected Jane Eyre because my favorite English professor has gushed about it on more than one occasion, and that was enough to urge me to give this book a read.
The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton
Synopsis: Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much-loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.
Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace—the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century—Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.
Thoughts: I was absolutely blown away with how spectacular Kate Morton‘s novel The Lake House was when I read it and I have been eager to read more of her work ever since. She has a good amount of novels out, so it was hard to decide which one I should check out first. However, this one sounded so enchanting with the connection to fairytales and the act of uncovering one’s family history. I can already sense that this will be a great book.
Have you read any of the books on this list?!
Tell us which books you’re most looking forward to reading in the comments below!
Be sure to keep up with the Paperback Paris Team’s monthly TBRs!