Reclaiming the life of Monica Jones @ShinyNewBooks


It’s no secret here on the Ramblings that I’m a huge admirer of the poetry of Philip Larkin; I’ve written before about first reading his work at school and retaining a love of his poems throughout my life. Behind the scenes, however, he’s a complex and often difficult character; as well as being in serial and simultaneous relationships, his views on race and sex can be problematic and his treatment of his female partners leaves a lot to be desired. One of the women in his life, the one who has the strongest claim to be his muse and who was his eventual partner, has had bad press over the years. Monica Jones knew Larkin the longest, and in many ways sacrificed the best part of her life to him. She’s been satirised and marginalised in ways that leave me very uncomfortable. So I was very pleased to come across a new book which promised to shed new light on her and reclaim a life for her in her own right.

Monica’s book plus my Larkins!

The book is “Monica Jones, Philip Larkin and Me” by John Sutherland. The latter studied under Jones at Leicester University and so knew her personally. In the book, he gains access to her letters and reconstructs the life of a fascinating, complext, intelligent woman who’s not really been give the credit she deserves. The book is a wonderful and very personal piece of work which I loved, and have written about for Shiny New Books – you can read my review here!

April reading – and whence May??


I really *don’t* know where April went to; I do think that living under a pandemic has done something weird to time. Nevertheless, it is now May and so I think I’ll have to regroup once more and consider what shape my reading will take this month!

April itself was, of course, brim full of (mostly) good books, and here’s what I actually read during the month:

As you can see, there are a number of chunky ones! Several were for the #1936Club (though I hasten to point out I did *not* read the whole Nabokov short story collection!); and I have a couple of titles to review for Shiny New Books. There was, of course, one dud for me, but c’est la vie – mostly I enjoy what I choose.

Looking forward to May, I’m not quite sure what I’m going to read next. I finished the “Monica Jones….” book last night and have a bit of a hangover, and probably want something of a change. Plus I have a number of review books in the stacks demanding attention, and they’re all very appealing:

Mainly chunky review books…
This one is calling strongly!
Some lovely titles from the British Library

These are some other options – what I’ll pick I don’t know!

Is there anything here which takes your fancy or which you’d recommend??? 😀

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