Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Orange Prize for Fiction - 2012

It started with a challenge - to read all the books in the Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly Orange Prize for Fiction) and I had no idea where it would lead me. Well, it turns out I should have known - to brilliant books!  First, a confession, until the Prize lost it's sponsorship from Orange, I had NO idea it was prize for women, I just thought it was good writing and they all happened to be women! Oops.

So, in maybe May last year, I came across the 2012 shortlist and I said to the book group, why not read the winner this year for our September book? We all agreed and when Madeline Miller was announced as the winner, our book was chosen. But it was May. And I wanted something to read. So, one day whilst away in Brighton on work, I picked a book from the short list - which I'd saved on my phone like so:

The book I chose was The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright, a book about a doomed affair - not my normal cup of tea, I loved it! I passed it quickly to Lois, then Brigid and then Rachel.  When the Edinburgh International Book Festival announced that Anne Enright would be attending, we bought our tickets and to a rather bemused Anne Enright, asked her to sign our copy as below (see, secretly we thought she might have been peeved we didn't all buy a copy!).

My second book was Half Blood Blues. I must admit, I struggled with this one. I'm really not a Second World War fan, I'm afraid I find it too depressing, but I'd decided I would finish, and so I did! Incidentally, read on the Kindle, might I have liked a book more? I don't know.

Third, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. There are no words! I LOVED this book with my whole heart and soul. Lois has blogged about it here so I won't go on so much. Except go read it!

Fourth, Song of Achilles, in time for Book Group in September (there is no reading in August for me!) which is covered here. Needless to say, another success. I felt on a roll.

Fifth was Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick. To me, very reminiscent of The Great Gatsby (our second book in group) and then a bit like Tigers in Red Weather (our to be posted book in group). But, kinda a bit more miserable. I struggled with this a bit too. But I found it easier to read than Half Blood Blues and because of comparisons to others, kept reading.

Finally, the last book of the shortlist. Wish I could say I saved the best til last but State of Wonder was such, I'm not sure I'll read a book of that calibre again! But Painter of Silence was good! I really enjoyed it, and just finished it in the nick of time at the end of December.  It was again a post Second World War book - isn't there anything else to write about?

What did I learn from this? That there are many fantastic women writers out there! And the Women's Prize for Fiction should be supported.  The long list is out Thursday 14 March, the shortlist Tuesday 16 April and the winner Wednesday 05 June. I, for one, cannot wait!

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