My 5 Star Reads of 2017 So Far

Up until now, I've been having a really good reading year. There were a lot of 4 star, as well as 5 star reads. At first I wanted to make a top 5, but I just couldn't choose between these books! So for now, let's talk about the books shall we?

I'll start off with talking about one of my new favourite authors: Anne Brontë. I had already read 'Agnes Grey' a couple of years ago, but I wanted to reread it because there was a new book about Anne Brontë coming out this year that I really wanted to read. For this reason I wanted to read both of her novels this year.

'Agnes Grey' was based on the experiences of Anne herself working as a governess.
In comparison to the first time I read it, I noticed it was a lot more than just a slim little novel. Anne writes beautifully, though not in the same way her sisters probably do. She writes about the realistic aspects of living in Victorian England, especially how it was for women, whilst her sisters write about romance and passion.

She writes about the way children of rich families are raised by a governess, how the idea of becoming a 'real man' is in many ways problematic for young boys growing up, as well as how girls are educated in the same way as their brothers, only to do nothing with their education after they marry. Our heroine, Agnes, doesn't agree in the slightest with this mindset of the time period she is living in and tries to bring some consciousness about these problems to the children she has to care for.

I loved this book a lot and I think a lot of people unjustly review it as a short and sweet little novel, while it is so much more than that.

Then I read 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall', also written by Anne Brontë. I loved this even more than Agnes Grey, because of its boldness. It takes the mindset of Agnes Grey to a more intense level and it is certainly a feminist classic in my opinion. Anne Brontë was way ahead of her time, maybe even ahead of her sisters.

This book tackles controversial topics such as alcoholism, gender roles and masculinity. It has the same themes as Agnes Grey but the expressions of the characters are bolder and more daring, which I loved a lot.

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to read Anne's books this year because there was a book on her coming out this year. This book is called 'Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life' by Samantha Ellis (writer of 'How to be a Heroine').

In this book Ellis talks about why Anne was overshadowed by her sisters in the literary world and why she deserves so much more attention and credit for the works she wrote, as well as for being a strong-minded, feminist writer way ahead of her time.

Ellis talks about all of this in a chatty manner, whilst at the same time showing you the facts surrounding Anne's life. If you love the Brontë sisters or Anne in particular, please give this a go, it's excellent. I even had a little cry at the end.

I also read 'Sandlands' by Rosy Thornton this year, which is a short story collection. All of these stories take place in the beautiful (I imagine) Suffolk countryside, and I tend to really love books set in rural areas. These stories intertwine with each other through the landscape and its creatures. It is also beautifully written and I would highly recommend this if it sounds anything like your cup of tea!

Another nature book, but this time non-fiction, is 'Landmarks' by Robert Macfarlane. This book is about the English landscape and its language, and the relationship between the two. Landmarks is about how our language shapes our sense of place, and it shows how powerful and necessary both nature and language are in our lives, in our imagination, and for the future. 

Then I read a book from one of my favourite authors, 'My Cousin Rachel' by Daphne du Maurier. This is a modern classic about the orphan Philip Ashley, raised by his uncle in an all-male household. When suddenly on a trip to Italy his uncle falls in love with a woman named Rachel and dies shortly after they marry, Philip is ready to take some sort of revenge on his cousin Rachel. But when she arrives, he is suddenly drawn to her and believes she is innocent. But is she? 

This was a quiet, thrilling read on the same level of the famous 'Rebecca' by du Maurier. I can't wait to see the new film adaptation, have you seen it? 

The last book I'm going to talk about is the first book I read this year. 'The Essex Serpent' was high on my TBR ever since it came out in 2016. I bought it in London, in the wonderful Waterstones edition, because it was the Waterstones book of the year! 

Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890s, this is a story about friendship, scientific discovery and myths. For now, I can say that this is so far my favourite book of the year and I would highly recommend it! Also, it's going to be translated into Dutch, which is really exciting. 

What are some of your favourite books you've read so far in 2017? I would love to know!


With bookish love, 

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