“…Delightful bibliophile’s memoir…Just try to read this book without nosing around your own shelves.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

I haven’t yet finished Susan Hill’s latest offering, Howards End is on the Landing, and it seems ridiculous to write a review of a book I am only one-third of the way through. However, therein, I think, lies the beauty of it.

Howards End is on the Landing is a documentation of Hill’s personal journey through her own collection of books. It also serves to make us mere mortals who aren’t best-selling writers feel better about our own relationship with reading. It is comforting to know that she struggles with Ulysses too, and that professed ‘must-read’ books have wormed their way onto her shelves that she has no intention of ever reading.

Part-memoir and part-series of book reviews, Howards End is on the Landing is proving incredibly difficult to get through. Not through any fault of Ms Hill’s, but rather because mid-way through a paragraph I will be taken with an overwhelming desire to go and paw through my own bookshelves, to find the tome that reminds me of the book she is describing, or to go and find my own copy of the same novel and place it in my ‘Must Read Soon’ pile. When she described her memories triggered by her own childhood books, I felt the need to spend almost an hour up in my loft flicking through all my old Ladybirds. (We have kept all but Pinocchio because it terrified me to tears.)

I study English Literature and, having tried recently to wade through The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and Robinson Crusoe in quick succession and with little pleasure, I confess I had rather fallen out of love with reading. Susan Hill has put that love back into me, and I owe her a great debt for it. Howards End is on the Landing is not only an enjoyable read in itself, but an inspiration to all the bibliophiles and compulsive-paperback buyers of the world.

My only regret is that I bought it for my Kindle; I feel such a fraud.

 

 

Reviewed by:

Stephanie Sanderson

Added 9th August 2015

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