Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Books 45 & 46 of 2015: Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett & Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Getting on for about a year ago now, Pempi @ Pempi's Palace heard that I hadn't read Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam and offered to send me a copy. I held on to it until we started on the IVF because I figured that a little Terry Pratchett would help get me through the long hours of appointments, travelling and waiting.

Raising Steam is the fortieth Discworld book which returns to Moist von Lipwig's story arc. Having turned the Post Office into a roaring success, securing a formidable portion of the Disc's communication network through his relationship with Adora Belle Dearheart, and coining the Ankh-Morpork Mint, von Lipwig's got a new project; now there's a new invention on the Disc and he's responsible for getting it all on track.

I took a lot longer to get through this book than I ordinarily would for a Terry Pratchett book though that had nothing to do with the book and everything to do with all the IVF stuff. I was reading this book through egg retrieval and embryo transfer so I quite often found my mind wandering when I was trying to read it. And during that my Mum and stepdad came to visit so I was preoccupied with them too.

I did kind of struggle with it and didn't enjoy it quite as much as I wanted to. I think that this was for a number of reasons. One was because I found it hard to focus on the story with all of the other big important things going on around me. That might explain the other reason why I struggled with it; I found it a little disjointed and didn't always feel like I followed what was going on, but again, that could have been due to the fact I kept picking it up and putting it down.

After reading Going Postal I felt in love with the character of Moist von Lipwig and I was thrilled that he got his own story arc (I'm still a little sad that the girls from Monstrous Regiment never got a further arc of their own). This book also has Vimes in it, who is another of my favourite Discworld characters, I loved that they get a final outing in this book.

I just couldn't help but feel sad as I was reading, realising that Terry Pratchett is gone and there won't be any more books. I still have The Shepherd's Crown to read but I'm sort of putting it off as long as I can because the longer I wait, the longer it is until it all has to end. I feel like there are just so many more stories that Discworld had to tell.

I followed up Raising Steam with Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy for my Reading Challenge. This was for Week 25: A book you should've read in school. Technically this is a book that I started reading at school but then set aside and never returned to after my English teacher died.

Tess is the oldest daughter of the poverty stricken Durbeyfield family, who is sent out by her mother to meet with her 'cousin' Alec d'Urberville. She leaves the d'Urberville home in shame and delivers a short-lived illegitimate son, ultimately leaving home and falling in love with Angel Clare. For Tess, however, she seems destined to live a tragic life.

Warning: Here be spoilers!

When I read this the first time I made it a lot further through than I remembered. I kept on finished chapters thinking 'right, this is where I got to last time', then I'd read another chapter or two and realise that there was another one I'd read. I remember finding it a bit of a slow read last time, though it was a beautiful edition (this time I was reading it on the Kindle). I found it a surprisingly quick read, getting through it in well under a week.

I did enjoy this book, until the end. Tess killing d'Urberville was really strange and unexpected for me. I actually ended up reading that bit late at night and going back and reading it again to double check that I hadn't misunderstood what had happened. After all the bad things that happened to Tess, I was really hoping for a happier ending. On the other hand, the fact that I got so involved in the book, that I felt that way, shows how much I enjoyed it.

I really felt for Tess. Both Alec and Angel both did a serious number on her. She was a poor, naive young woman who was trying to do what her family wanted her to but who ended up in a situation outwith her control. I realise that it's reflective of the time period when it was written, but it still made me angry that she could end up in the situations she did and it was still seen as her fault. Stupid men.

I've heard people complain about Thomas Hardy's style of writing, but I really liked it. I'm definitely going to try more Hardy in the future, I've got at least two more books on my Kindle waiting to be read.


  1. I was surprised by how much I liked Tess when I read it a few years ago.

    1. Yeah, I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. I'm glad I read it. :-)


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