Reading challenge book 14: Girl Reading by Katie Ward

Girl Reading is Katie Ward’s debut novel
Book 14 in my challenge to read one book (I haven’t read before) a fortnight in 2012 is Girl Reading by Katie Ward.

One of The TV Book Club 2012 selections, Girl Reading can almost be seen as a collection of seven short stories rather than a novel.
Instead, it’s six chapters, each containing an almost isolated narrative from the one before, and a seventh which brings all the previous narratives together.
With a common thread of women reading, the stories in Girl Reading take the reader on a trip through history, from 1333 to 2008, and then into the future with the final chapter set in 2060.
Simone Martini, the first chapter, reminded me slightly of Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, while Angelica Kauffman, the third chapter, took me to the world of period drama with a dark twist, and Immaterialism, the sixth chapter, was a very familiar world which at the same time was completely unfamiliar.

At first I found myself trying to look for things connecting each of the chapters, but once I stopped I found that the connections were numerous, but not always obvious – something which really added layers to the stories.

Its narrative style is clever, with each chapter having a distinct voice suited to the characters within, and creating a portrait in the reader’s mind of that slice of the world at that particular time.

Girl Reading is a fascinating book, with so many layers, and by the time I got to the end I discovered it was something completely different to the book I thought I would be reading – a discovery as fascinating as the very modern world which ends the novel.

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