Friends of The Reader choose their books of 2007.
by Katie Peters
My favourite read of 2007 is, without a doubt, Janet’s Repentance by George Eliot. I read it one rainy Saturday afternoon in October (its a long short story, around 150 pages) and have been coming back to it ever since – and not just because it is one of the books I’m studying as part of the Reading In Practice MA, but because there is so much in it, and every time I do return to it I find something new. The word ‘repentance’ speaks of a turn around, a change in direction and a distinction between the past and the future. This book is concerned with those things, but also with the blurred edges between the past and future. It is painfully honest about the difficulty of starting a ‘new life’, finding strength to make change a reality rather than an ideal, and continuing on in that future when the past lurks close behind. Hope is surprising here, and happens at the most unexpected moments, where it is most powerful.
Everywhere the same sadness! Her life was a sun-dried, barren tract, where there was no shadow, and where all the waters were bitter.
No! She suddenly thought – and the thought was like an electric shock – there was one spot in her memory which seemed to promise her an untried spring, where the waters might be sweet.
It is at this point, when life has become a ‘sun dried, barren tract’ that the hope of ‘an untried spring, where the waters might be sweet’ is most beautiful. The book is full of such moments of transition and movement between despair and the hope of life returning. It is a great story to read at the start of a New Year.
Katie Peters graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Liverpool in 2005 and is currently enrolled on the Reading in Practice MA. She now works full time for The Reader, organising publicity and marketing and delivering reading groups as part of the Get Into Reading project.