Girl Reading – Katie Ward

Pieter Janssens Elinga - Woman Reading - 1668
Pieter Janssens Elinga – Woman Reading – 1668

Girl Reading is a series of short stories, each based on a picture, or series of pictures of girls reading – well obviously! – at different points in history.

This is a well written book.  Katie Ward creates a series of characters and situations which have the semblance of reality and psychological truth.  Each seems well grounded in the history of the time and Ward’s style is imaginative and gentle, simple to read but interesting and varied.  It doesn’t really have an axe to grind about women’s rights, and is quite neutral in that respect – the women aren’t ciphers for any grand feminist polemic – it’s just a satisfying book to read.

The short story isn’t my favourite genre – each new story is a fresh start and so each presents afresh the challenge of getting interested, getting on board with the writer and the plot, and Ward is at times a little oblique here in the way she introduces new characters and story threads, so that requires concentration.  Some of the sections are less interesting than others: I found the last section less enjoyable, but that’s because I’m not a great fan of science fiction.  I did enjoy the section based on the image from Flickr, but found some of the plots less compelling.

Having finished Girl Reading my next shot is a straightforward crime thriller.  Already I’m racing through that, which indicates the difference in the reading experience and suggests the recommendation I ‘ll give this book: interesting and well written but a bit slow!

Link to the pictures that inspired the book

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