Books · Review

Criminally Underrated Classic | Book Review: Passing by Nella Larsen



Irene Redfield, the novel’s protagonist, is a woman with an enviable life. She and her husband, Brian, a prominent physician, share a comfortable Harlem town house with their sons. Her work arranging charity balls that gather Harlem’s elite creates a sense of purpose and respectability for Irene. But her hold on this world begins to slip the day she encounters Clare Kendry, a childhood friend with whom she had lost touch. Clare—light-skinned, beautiful, and charming—tells Irene how, after her father’s death, she left behind the black neighborhood of her adolescence and began passing for white, hiding her true identity from everyone, including her racist husband. As Clare begins inserting herself into Irene’s life, Irene is thrown into a panic, terrified of the consequences of Clare’s dangerous behavior. And when Clare witnesses the vibrancy and energy of the community she left behind, her burning desire to come back threatens to shatter her careful deception.

Brilliantly plotted and elegantly written, Passing offers a gripping psychological portrait of emotional extremity.

My thoughts:

Wow! What a read.
The reviews for this one have been less favourable and so I just expected an okay read. However, this blew me away by the end!

It was such a fresh and interesting story – especially for a classic.
I’m not normally one to enjoy fiction set in the early 20th century but I really like this setting. It’s set in the 1920s and is written from the perspective of a mixed race/ biracial (African American and white) woman – something I’ve never read from prior.

There’s a lot going on in this very short novel (maybe novella). It’s a lot the unpack and I found it very thought-provoking. I was fascinated by the concept of mixed race/biracial living and acting as white – completely shunning the African American side as Clare does in the novel. It’s interesting seeing the racial prejudice of this time period and the racism Clare has internalised. Clare uses Irene as a way back into the Black community. Irene, though light-skinned is not ashamed of her heritage and does not live as white – marrying a Black doctor. While there seems some conflict within Clare, she’s married to an openly racist white man and actively shuns her origins but inserts herself into Irene’s life to reconnect with the Black community she has dismissed for years.

The two main characters, Irene and Clare are both great to get to know over the course of the story. They’re two very different and contrasting characters, both of which are fascinating.

The story was engaging and well-plotted – a little slow but nothing too bad. It’s a great story with realistic characters, the story feels so real. It’s a shame it’s so short, a longer story would’ve been amazing!

However, the ending… it’s quite abrupt and jarring – I’m not quite sure if I loved it or hated it. I was shocked, to say the least. I couldn’t really believe what I was reading. For the most part the novel’s pace was slow – the ending was so fast and out of nowhere. It’s a very dramatic close to such a short novel. Surprising!

Overall, this is definitely worth a read! A criminally underrated classic, in my opinion. Definitely needs a) a higher rating on Goodreads b) More awareness!!
Classics by POC definitely need more hype and attention in general.

It’s also now a film on Netflix, I’ll have to give it a watch and see how it compares!

Rating: 4 Stars

Books · Tag

End of the Year Book Tag

Happy Monday!
Long time no see. I’ve been super busy moving and working. I’ve had no time to juggle blogging. I’m hoping to change that now I’m more settled.
Since we’re reaching the end of the year, this is the perfect tag to get me back into writing posts!

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

I’ve only just started this but I feel it’s going to be a slow read for me to get through, despite being very short. It’s interesting, just not bingeable.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

I read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
Which feels autumnal, to me, although it’s set across quite a big time period. The edition I have (penguin vintage classic) screams autumn to!

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson
Super super super excited to get my hands on this! It comes out at the end of this month.

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

I hate making TBRs because I will literally never stick to them. For some reason, it completely turns me off reading it haha
However, I do want to read some ‘festive’ books for the Christmas season…
I’ll give the ones I might read:
Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson
The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand (if I can find a copy, seems to be hard to find in the UK)
Winter by Ali Smith

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?

If I manage to squeeze in Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson that could become a favourite… but I might hold off til 2022 – not sure yet. Also maybe Cytonic?? (How many times will I mention BrandSand in one post- can you tell who my favourite author is)

Have you already started making reading plans for 2022?

I have…
I try not to plan reads but I have started planning. I want to reread the Mistborn books by Brandon Sanderson and catch up with the second series ready for the last book which will come out at some point in 2022.

Books · Wrap-up

October Wrap Up | 2021

Happy November 1st!
Cannot get over how fast October was. So crazy!
I managed to read three books this month. Not a huge amount. But again, I read a Stormlight Archive book which was over 1200 pages – which counts as three books, right?!

*Gilded by Marissa Meyer

Gilded by Marissa Meyer | Waterstones

I was kindly gifted an arc of this by the publisher. This was one of my most anticipated reads for this year and it did not let me down! I really enjoy this dark fantasy retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Perfect autumn read. Highly recommend!
Rating: 4 Stars / Review here

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Oathbringer] Oathbringer UK cover revealed. : r/Stormlight_Archive

The star of the show. My latest obsession. I read the next Stormlight Archive book, having read the previous two in the last two months. I have the audiobook and kindle book – which was such a joyful experience. Once again, I loved it. Brandon Sanderson is a master of fantasy. I’m so invested in these characters and this world. I want to jump right into the sequel but book five doesn’t come out until 2023… oh the curse of reading an ongoing series!
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Passing by Nella Larsen


In an attempt to squeeze another book into October, I binged this on Halloween night! I listened to the audiobook while reading along with my physical copy. It’s a short classic by a Black author! A woman one at that. I like classics, but I have not read any diverse ones until now. Refreshing.
Will have a full review up at some point!
Rating: 3.75 Stars

What did you read in October?