Spell the Month in Books | March

Lisa @ANZLit Lovers alerted me to this meme. She found it at Jennifer’s Tasmanian Bibliophile at Large who found it over at Jana’s Reviews From the Stacks.

Jana often includes a theme to add an extra spice to the challenge – this month it is Spring. Given I live in the Southern Hemisphere, I will turn the theme towards AUTUMN instead.

My main autumnal [reading] activity in March is Begorrathon & Dewithon. So this month I will feature Irish and Welsh titles where I can from the Brona’s Books vault.


Midwinter Break | Bernard MacLaverty

Read for Begorrathon in 2018. Perhaps not the best book to start a book tag post as it was not a favourite in the end. I wanted to love it, but I failed to engage with the book. Themes of alcoholism, marriage, grief and loss.

Normally I don’t mind jumps between various times and events, but it felt clumsy here. I kept losing my way. And the very worse thing that can happen to me when reading a book happened at the half way mark – I realised I was bored.


Actress | Anne Enright

Read for Begorrathon 2020. Not my favourite Enright either, but I do find the mather-daughter dynamic in fiction endlessly engrossing. Themes of alcoholism, mental health issues, grief and loss. Very nostaglic.

Actress was an fascinating story but there were many times when it felt rather like trying to drive a car and forgetting to put it into gear. The engine was revving sweetly, but we were going nowhere! 


The Railwayman’s Wife | Ashley Hay

Most of the books featured this month are my go-to genre of historical fiction. The Railwayman’s Wife is set in post-WWII coastal NSW(ales), in the lovely town of Thirroul. It’s themes are marriage, grief and loss with some beautiful descriptions of the scenery.

The Railwayman’s Wife is a beautifully nuanced & bittersweet journey that has left me wanting more story by Hay.


The Child in Time | Ian McEwan

I couldn’t find any way to fit Wales or Ireland into ‘C’, but I did stay in the British Isles with an Ian McEwan story.

Themes are families, grief and loss. Plus politics and time. Written in 1987 as a contemporary novel. It already feels like so long ago, another time. A reminder of how remorselessly time marches on.

I find him to be such a frustrating writer – moments of utter brilliance that leave me breathless and wowed followed by rambling, self-indulgent musings about time, memory and love.


How Green Was My Valley | Richard Llewellyn

Read for Dewithon 2019. I loved this book for many reasons. One of them was thanks to the central female character, Bronwen. Such a great name! Themes are family & community, politics, social justice and environment. Very nostalgic.

Bronwen came over plenty of Saturdays after that, but I was always shy of her. I think I must have fallen in love with Bronwen even then and I must have been in love with her all my life since. It is silly to think a child could fall in love. If you think about it like that, mind. But I am the child that was, and nobody knows how I feel, except only me. And I think I fell in love with Bronwen that Saturday on the hill.

Have you read any of these books? What are you reading this year for Reading Ireland and Reading Wales Month?

This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are this land’s first storytellers.

17 thoughts on “Spell the Month in Books | March

      1. I like her stuff. I looked her up because I’d forgotten when this one was released, and I noticed that she hasn’t had a novel since 2017 (A Hundred Small Lessons). It might be because she’s been editing the Griffith Review.
        I looked her up on Twitter and discovered that she won 2022 Blake-Beckett Trust Scholarship for The Running Dream, and that’s an ASA award for a work of fiction-in-progress, so hopefully, there will be a new novel soon!


  1. Not read these, though I know I should have in one or two cases, but this prompt looks fun! Just from my 2023 reads, all chosen for reading events viz Nordic FINDS, Vintage SciFi Month, JanMARKuary, and Dewithon, I’ve come up with these:

    Midnight Sun (Jo Nesbø)
    Argonauts of the Air, The (H G Wells)
    Ronia the Robber’s Daughter (Astrid Lindgren)
    Can of Worms, A (Jan Mark)
    Hill of Dreams, The (Arthur Machen)

    As well as the Machen I’ve read a Diana Wynne Jones fantasy and Christie Davies’s Dewi the Dragon for Reading Wales, with a Catherine Fisher fantasy also pencilled in; and now I’ve just finished Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf and am part-way through C S Lewis’s Till We Have Faces for Begorrathon. So, making progress!


    1. I was planning on asking about JanMARKuary, until I spotted the ‘C’ title and author and think I worked it out myself.

      You’re doing much better with the March’thons Chris! I have read 2 of the stories in The Mabinogion so far and I’m reading a few more William Trevor short stories, trying to focus on his earlier ones set in Ireland when I can. But haven’t had time to write – hopefully this weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Mabinogion is always worth a revisit, isn’t it. I’ve been tempted by everyone’s enthusiasm for William Trevor but I regret I’ve still to make the effort. Soon, I hope, soon!


  2. I’ve read three of these – How Green Is My Valley obviously. Also Midwinter Break and Actress . I enjoyed Actress but agree with you that it’s not my favourite Enright. I enjoyed parts of Midwinter Break though there were some elements of the plot that just didn’t ring true to me.


      1. Sometimes it’s just that I’m not in the mood for that particular kind of book OR that there has been so much attention given to it that my expectations are very high


  3. Good choice of books for March. I read, on your recommendation I think, The Railwayman’s Wife and really loved it.


    1. Here my short review:

      A beautifully written story about a young woman in Australia, her past, her family and her future. The remnants of the war loom over this story. How the affected men are trying to come to terms with their experience and what they have seen, and how it affects their families that were not there. It could easily be read for this part only, but the poem Ani finds gives another dimension to the life of the people in the small village by the ocean. Another bittersweet novel which gives you a lot to think about.


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