The Quality of Silence – Rosamund Lupton

Contemporary Fiction 2*s

Contemporary Fiction
2*s

This book has the haunting quality of one you would expect that is set in Alaska where the weather couldn’t have been more at odds with the heat wave we were experiencing when I read it.

Yasmin has gone to Alaska with her ten-year old daughter Ruby to meet up with her husband Matt. Matt has been on an extended trip to the country to film the wildlife but with communications hard to maintain and a friendship with a local woman to boot Yasmin isn’t entirely sure how they will work things out but she is set on delivering an ultimatum to Matt despite being aware of what the loss of a parent can do to a child, let alone a fairly isolated child like Ruby who is deaf.

On arriving in Alaska, Matt is not there to meet them and it isn’t too long before Yasmin is told that he perished in a fire that swept through the village where he had been staying; there were no survivors. Yasmin goes into instant denial and persuades a trucker to take her partway to the village before the expected storm hits.

This is a story about love in all permutations within a family. Yasmin remembers the early days with Matt in flashback while part of her journey across this white, cold and bleak land is told in the third person some sections are told in the first person present tense. Ruby tells her story too, from her perspective as she joins her mother on the road-trip to find her father. Ruby uses sign language and we realise the limitations when it’s dark, so she also has a computer app that can convert speech into typed words, to reply Ruby types the words and the computer synthesizes a voice. Yasmin’s goal is to get Ruby to speak which she has refused to do for the last couple of years, the explanation given by Ruby in the book is perfectly understandable but so is Yasmin’s fears for her daughter’s future. The absent Matt is much more accepting of Ruby’s deafness which has created an underlying conflict between the parents.

The premise to the book is great, I loved Ruby’s character although her relentless good cheer and hopeful nature seemed slightly at odds with how a child would behave in such a hostile environment. I’m afraid I felt like I was on the journey with them across a landscape where little changes and the endless bundling into every item of clothing whenever they had to leave the truck. I understand the need for authenticity but I quickly tired of how such and such a task could only be done with the glove liners and not the warm gloves that prevent frostbite! In truth the scene setting for the true mystery took over two-thirds of the book, and I lost interest partly because little happened and partly because I didn’t believe that the actions taken by Yasmin were realistic although I get that this story was really a love conquers all, or does it? themed book.

There were clues to the mystery scattered amongst the pages but I don’t think anyone would struggle to work out what might have happened to Matt. The consequence of this is that the tension which would have tightened this story was removed.

I really enjoyed Sister which was this author’s debut novel and her second book Afterwards was also an interesting read but for me this one just didn’t work despite the brilliant descriptions of Alaska and other elements which were genuinely interesting the story didn’t quite gel for me.

I’d like to thank the publishers Little Brown Book Group for my copy in return for this review. The Quality of Silence was published on 2 July 2015.

8 Comments

Filed under Books I have read

The Girls – Lisa Jewell

Contemporary Fiction 5*s

Contemporary Fiction
5*s

I have enjoyed all of Lisa Jewell’s books mainly for her characterisation and once again in The Girls the people that live in Virginia Terrace and Crescent were the kind that I felt I’d met, I knew these people, so authentically are they portrayed.

After the characters comes the story and this is a dark one, and to my mind one of her best. Clare has moved into one of the terraces with her two girls, just a year apart at eleven and twelve. Why they are there and who they are hiding from soon becomes clear and although Grace and Pip have been through a lot in the last few months it isn’t long before they get drawn to the gang of youngsters in communal gardens. Although this is a story that largely centres on tweens and teens, and is set in London, this is a gang in the old-fashioned sense, a group of youngsters who hang out together and don’t go home in time for tea.

These gardens sound amazing covering a large area with open areas and more secluded ones. A playground offers the youngsters somewhere to meet in the summer evenings while the Rose Garden is a place to think, complete with a bench in memory of Phoebe, a girl who lived thirty years previously and died in the gardens.

The residents are a great mix, there are the family who home-school complete with a diabetic grandfather, the elderly war refugee who has stories to tell, a social worker and her neglected daughter. When Grace and Pip get invited into Adele and Leo’s apartment by their three daughters Catkin, Fern and Willow it would seem that the gang in the garden will expand to absorb the two new-comers but Pip is unsure, she’s seen and heard things that make her feel uncomfortable.

The book contains Pip’s thoughts in touching letters to her father who is away, here she pours out her thoughts on the new house complete with little illustrations, I especially loved the one of Rhea’s rabbit which is taken for walks by Pip while the rest of the youngsters gather together. As Grace’s thirteenth birthday approaches the gap between the sisters noticeably widens particularly as Grace becomes enamoured with one of the boys and Pip is nowhere ready for love complications in her life. With their mother Clare learning to acclimatise to their new home and her past, Grace is allowed the freedom to roam in the safety of the gardens. But there is danger out there camouflaged amongst the beauty and the close community.

Lisa Jewell has structured the book in such a way that because she tells us at the beginning that something has happened to one of the sisters, and then presents the characters, it became impossible not to be suspicious of every single one. Because of this, some of the delightful scenes described have long shadows cast over them in a way that I’m sure they wouldn’t had the book been told in a strictly linear fashion. With the similarities between Phoebe’s death and this new incident, comparisons are made and whispers are spread like greenfly on the roses in the garden, not helped when old secrets spill out creating conflict.

Lisa Jewell is one of my favourite authors and her later books have turned much darker without losing their brightly coloured characters. You won’t find much in the way of stereotypes in these novels but they are realistic, parts of her characters are always instantly recognisable from the efficient and loving mother Adele, to the more nervous and diffident Clare, from Leo who exudes bonhomie to Rhea who is unable to shrug off the past. You really should meet them all too!

The Girls is published today, 2 July 2015 by Random House UK who I’d like to thank for allowing me to read this book in return for this review.

My favourite Lisa Jewell books:

click on the covers to read my reviews

Before I Met YouThe House We Grew Up InThe Making of UsThe Truth About Melody Browne

Lisa Jewell Novels
• The Girls (2015)
The Third Wife (2014)
• The House We Grew Up In (2013)
• Before I Met You (2012)
• The Making Of Us (2011
• After The Party (2010)
• The Truth About Melody Browne (2009)
• 31 Dream Street (2007)
• Vince and Joy (2005
• A Friend of the Family (2004)
• One Hit Wonder (2001)
• Thirtynothing (2000)
• Ralph’s Party (1999)

15 Comments

Filed under Books I have read

This Week In Books (July 1)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

Well it’s July, summer is here and I am currently reading The Quality of Silence by Rosumund Lupton from the chilly climate of Alaska.

The Quality of Silence
Blurb

On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska.
Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness
Where nothing grows
Where no one lives
Where tears freeze
And night will last for another 54 days.
They are looking for Ruby’s father.
Travelling deeper into a silent land.
They still cannot find him.
And someone is watching them in the dark. NetGalley

I have just finished The Girls by Lisa Jewell, another winner from this author.

The Girls

My review will follow shortly

Blurb

You live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses.
You’ve known your neighbours for years and you trust them. Implicitly.
You think your children are safe.
But are they really?
Midsummer night: a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?
Utterly believable characters, a gripping story and a dark secret buried at its core: this is Lisa Jewell at her heart-stopping best. NetGalley

Next up a break from the review books and onto my 20 Books of 2015! Challenge – I’m woefully behind having only read 3 so far… The Maul and the Pear Tree by P. D. James and T. A. Critchley

20 books of summer logo

The Maul and The Pear Tree

Blurb

In 1811 John Williams was buried with a stake in his heart. Was he the notorious East End killer or his eighth victim in the bizarre and shocking Ratcliffe Highway Murders? In this vivid and gripping reconstruction P. D. James and police historian T. A. Critchley draw on forensics, public records, newspaper clippings and hitherto unpublished sources, expertly sifting the evidence to shed new light on this infamous Wapping mystery.
This true crime novel begins amid the horror of a dark, wintry London in the year 1811. Using elegant historical detection P.D. James and police historian T.A. Critchley piece together new and unpublished sources in an original portrayal of the Ratcliffe Highway Murders.
P.D. James, the bestselling author of Death Comes to Pemberley and Children of Men, here explores the mysterious and intense emotions responsible for the unique crime of murder, with authority and sensitivity. Her only work of true crime, this novel uses forensics, unpublished sources and forgotten documents to create a vivid image of early-nineteenth century London and a gripping reconstruction of the Ratcliffe Highway Murders. Amazon

What have you found to read this week?

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

20 Comments

Filed under Weekly Posts

Five of the Best (June 2011 to 2015)

5 Star Reads

As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favourite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them!

2011

My favourite read in June 2011 was a find courtesy of Amazon Vine; The Ghost of Lily Painter by Caitlin Davies which tells the story of Annie Sweet who on moving to a new home feels compelled to delve into the house’s past… what she finds is the story of two baby farmer’s who when entrusted with babies that their mother’s were unable to keep with them, killed them. Well-told and backed up by solid research this book left a lasting impression on me.

The Ghost of Lily Painter

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

The first time Annie Sweet sees 43 Stanley Road, the house is so perfect she almost feels as though it has chosen her. She longs to move in, but with her husband seeming more distant, and her daughter wrapped up in her friends and new school, Annie is left alone to mull over the past.
Soon she becomes consumed by the house and everyone who has lived there before her, especially a young chorus girl called Lily Painter, a rising star of the music hall whose sparkling performances were the talk of the town.
As Annie delves further into Lily’s past she begins to unravel a dark episode from Edwardian London, that of two notorious baby farmers, who lured young unmarried mothers with the promise of a better life for their babies. Until Annie solves the mystery at the heart of the scandal, the ghost of Lily Painter will never be able to rest.
Based on a real period from London’s rich history, Caitlin Davies skilfully blends fact and fiction to bring to life part of our sinister past. Spanning an entire century, from the journals of an Edwardian police inspector to a doomed wartime love affair, The Ghost of Lily Painter is an engrossing and poignant novel from a hugely talented writer. Goodreads

2012 yr

My choice for June 2012 is the second from a series that I have continued to enjoy. Written by the writing duo Nicci French. Tuesday’s Gone features the Psychotherapist Freida Klein who is drawn into another collaboration with the police
Tuesday's Gone

Blurb

In Tuesday’s Gone, a London social worker makes a routine home visit only to discover her client serving afternoon tea to a naked, decomposing corpse. With no clues as to the dead man’s identity, Chief Inspector Karlsson again calls upon Frieda for help. She discovers that the body belongs to Robert Poole, con man extraordinaire. But Frieda can’t shake the feeling that the past isn’t done with her yet. Did someone kill Poole to embroil her in the investigation? And if so, is Frieda herself the next victim?
A masterpiece of paranoia, Tuesday’s Gone draws readers inexorably into a fractured and faithless world as it brilliantly confirms Frieda Klein as a quintessential heroine for our times. Goodreads

2013yr

My June 2013 I read The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell, a writer who has moved from the chick-lit arena to one that deals with serious issues without losing the ability to draw her reader into the scenario posed, in this case sperm donors.

The Making of Us

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Lydia, Robyn and Dean don’t know each other – yet.
They live very different lives but each of them, independently, has always felt that something is missing.
What they don’t know is that a letter is about to arrive that will turn their lives upside down.
It is a letter containing a secret – one that will bind them together, and show them what love and familyand friendship really mean… Amazon

2014yr

Last year I was on holiday during June so I have a large selection to choose from, but in the end, the choice was easy Just What Kind of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly is a terrific example of domestic noir. When one mother forgets to notify another that her daughter won’t be able to stay over and then she goes missing, you can imagine who the finger is pointed at.

What Kind of Mother Are You

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Your friend’s child is missing. It’s your fault.
No family is perfect.
A husband, three children and a full-time job, so many plates to keep spinning.
No wonder you forgot you were supposed to be looking after your friend’s daughter.
But no one has seen her since yesterday.
And she’s not the first to go missing from your small town.
So who’s hiding something? Amazon

2015yr

Once again picking my favourite book over the last month is proving difficult but I do have to pick between two excellent but very different reads and have gone for A Game For All The Family by Sophie Hannah which is due to be published in August. Never before have I got quite so far through a book where I’m enormously enjoying what I’m reading but have no clue what actually is going on… the oddest experience but I’m relieved to say all did become clear in the end.
A Game for all the Family

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

After escaping London and a career that nearly destroyed her, Justine plans to spend her days doing as little as possible in her beautiful home in Devon.
But soon after the move, her daughter Ellen starts to withdraw when her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school. Justine begs the head teacher to reconsider, only to be told that nobody’s been expelled – there is, and was, no George.
Then the anonymous calls start: a stranger, making threats that suggest she and Justine share a traumatic past and a guilty secret – yet Justine doesn’t recognise her voice. When the caller starts to talk about three graves – two big and one small, to fit a child – Justine fears for her family’s safety.
If the police can’t help, she’ll have to eliminate the danger herself, but first she must work out who she’s supposed to be… Amazon

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my May reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here:

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best
April Five of the Best
May Five of the Best

19 Comments

Filed under 5 Of the Best

My Sunshine Away – Milton O’Neal Walsh

Contemporary Fiction 5*s

Contemporary Fiction
5*s

This is an insightful novel, one that tells the story of a young girl’s rape and the way the boy from across the street wanted to help, because he loved her.

I really didn’t know quite what to expect from the synopsis of this one, it wasn’t what I got which was a far more thoughtful and measured piece of writing than the mystery story that was promised, but do you know what, it didn’t really matter who did what because this was about an act that changed everyone’s perceptions of Piney Creek Road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And through it all Lindy, who had been raped, and the teenage boy across the road finished the process of growing up with the weight of the unsolved crime hanging over their heads.

In many ways this is a ‘coming of age’ novel with a mystery thrown in a book where the memories of our narrator roll off each and every page, written from a time in the future and looking back at the events that shaped his life, and the girl that he loved. The neighbourhood is full of characters including an adopted former foster-child who was wild and got expelled from Perkins High, the local school, the arty girl Julie and the other temporary foster children who joined the gang making beds out of moss and then disappeared almost unnoticed.

Starting in the late 80s this is a book looking back through time to the boy our narrator was and how that shaped the man he became. There is a strong theme of memories; what we remember and what we repress, how we use some memories to our advantage and some to our detriment. Our narrator has fond memories of being a young child and more diffident ones as he begins to grow up and falls in love with the unattainable Lindy. The school scenes in particular will ring true to anyone who attended around this period with a particularly poignant episode of watching the Challenger disaster in January 1986, after months of project work on space the pupils gathered to watch… The allegiances formed during those years, the things that people do to be popular, the way that we interact with our parents, I’m sure will resonate on a level with most readers, it certainly made me reflect on comparable incidents.

This was a touching book, one that brought a tear to my eye more than once, and I’m a tough cookie and not prone to such behaviour as a rule. The affection I felt for the narrator was immense despite knowing that he was one of the four suspects in Lindy’s rape. No that isn’t a spoiler, you get the information on the very first page. And so as I read I wondered, could it be true? This added an unsettling quality to my read where sympathy coincided with suspicion.

So back in the first paragraph I said I didn’t know what to expect, at the end I know that this is one of those books that won’t be forgotten. Not just because it is quite different to my normal reads, far more reflective and with far less action but because it was a book that touched my heart, made me reflect and in short is an outstanding debut.

I’d like to thank the publishers Penguin Books UK who kindly allowed me a chance to read a copy of this book ahead of publication on 2 July 2015.

17 Comments

Filed under Books I have read

First One Missing – Tammy Cohen

Psychological Thriller 5*s

Psychological Thriller
5*s

Being a huge fan of Tammy Cohen’s I was thrilled to spot a copy of this on NetGalley and gave a little (well quite loud) squeal of excitement when the approval email came winging its way into my in-box. What I like about her writing is that each book I’ve read has felt very different, Tammy is certainly not a one-trick-pony, yet they all have in-depth characters and a sense of humour. However I was slightly nervous about this one with the subject matter of this one being about four murdered young (under-tens) girls, I did wonder what the pages were going to hold. I needn’t have worried, this is a great book, and the wry observational truths lighten the dark subject matter without ever venturing into a dismissive attitude to the crimes being described.

In North London we meet Poppy Glover’s mother who is wishing she could turn back time, two days before her daughter was safe, the day before she was only missing, there was still hope, but today she has been found dead on Hampstead Heath the scene of the previous three ‘Kenwood Killer’ murders, named after the nearby Kenwood House.

The same morning Emma Reid wakes up with her distant husband Guy, soon after the day has begun she will receive a phone call from the Family Liaison Officer assigned to them, Leanne Miller who will visit with the terrible news that another child has been murdered by the same perpetrator. Two other families, Fiona and Mark Botsford and the mother of the first victim Helen Purvis will receive similar calls. Meanwhile Sally Freeland, journalist for the Chronical is determined to get an exclusive. She’s well placed having persuaded Helen Purvis to let her write articles in the hope that they would find the killer of her daughter Megan and as Helen has set up a support group for the bereaved parents she has no doubt that Poppy’s parents will soon be welcomed into Megan’s Angels.

So Helen sprang into action gearing her family, teenage son Rory and husband Simon up for a meeting of Megan’s Angels along with the other FLOs and first three families, not something she is looking forward to as she describes in this perceptive and realistic paragraph:

People always expected the families to be a harmonious little group, bound together by tragedy, supporting each other through the nightmare they’d stumbled into. But they were just like everyone else. Some were prickly (Fiona Botsford), some overbearing (Simon Hewitt). They didn’t stop having personalities just because of what had happened to them – they could still get right up each other’s noses, despite the horrible thing that had brought them together.

The author has written this book from the character’s perspectives, we get an insight into their lives through their own perspective, as well as the police investigation from Leanne’s and a different viewpoint from the despicable Sally’s as she uses her own contacts to try and beat the police to finding the perpetrator. Although there is a mystery, and a very good one at that, this is a character driven book which gives the reader a great variety of sub-plots that cross the age spectrum. As always with Tammy Cohen, these are realistic people, all flawed which makes for an interesting read and helps when trying to keep straight which girl belonged to each family group.

I highly recommend this book for lovers of psychological novels with a strong domestic bent. The plot was superb with plenty of plausible suspects, and even though I worked this one out (by some fluke) I wasn’t certain enough not to get thoroughly caught up in the tension as the novel hurtled around some tight corners, dodging and swerving towards the finishing line.

First One Missing will be published by Random House UK on 2 July 2015, don’t miss out!

Previous books by Tammy Cohen (some written under her given name of Tamara Cohen)
The Mistress’s Revenge
The War of the Wives (note to self I NEED a copy of this one)
Someone Else’s Wedding
The Broken
Dying for Christmas

12 Comments

Filed under Books I have read

Stacking The Shelves (June 27)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared!

I haven’t shown you the recent additions to my shelves for the last couple of week and once again, seeing as I’ve been being good there seems to be quite a few!

From NetGalley I am delighted to have a copy of The Girls by Lisa Jewell, I really love this authors writing style and The House We  Grew Up In is a great example of her work.
The Girls

Blurb

You live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses.
You’ve known your neighbours for years and you trust them. Implicitly.
You think your children are safe.
But are they really?
Midsummer night: a thirteen-year-old girl is found unconscious in a dark corner of the garden square. What really happened to her? And who is responsible? NetGalley

I also have a copy of The Insanity of Murder by Felicity Young which features Doctor Dody McCleland. I have the first of this series, An Anatomy of Death on my 20 Books of Summer challenge which I will need to read first.

The Insanity of Murder

Blurb

To Doctor Dody McCleland, the gruesome job of dealing with the results of an explosion at the Necropolis Railway Station is testing enough. But when her suffragette sister Florence is implicated in the crime, matters worsen and Dody finds her loyalty cruelly divided. Can she choose between love for her sister and her secret love for Chief Inspector Matthew Pike, the investigating officer on the case?
Dody and Pike’s investigations lead them to a women’s rest home where patients are not encouraged to read or think and where clandestine treatments and operations are conducted in an unethical and inhumane manner. Together Dody and Pike must uncover such foul play before their secret liaisons become public knowledge – and before Florence becomes the rest home’s next victim. NetGalley

I am also lucky enough to have a copy of The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly who wrote the stunning Just What Kind of Mother Are You? and Keep Your Friends Close.

The Mistake I Made

Blurb

We all think we know who we are.
What we’re capable of.

Roz is a single mother, a physiotherapist, a sister, a friend. She’s also desperate.
Her business has gone under, she’s crippled by debt and she’s just had to explain to her son why someone’s taken all their furniture away.
But now a stranger has made her an offer. For one night with her, he’ll pay enough to bring her back from the edge.
Roz has a choice to make.

Lastly I have a copy of Preserve The Dead by Brian McGilloway

Preserve The Dead

Blurb

Detective Sergeant Lucy Black is visiting her father, a patient in a secure unit in Gransha Hospital on the banks of the River Foyle. He’s been hurt badly in an altercation with another patient, and Lucy is shocked to discover him chained to the bed for safety. But she barely has time to take it all in, before an orderly raises the alarm – a body has been spotted floating in the river below…
The body of an elderly man in a grey suit is hauled ashore: he is cold dead. He has been dead for several days. In fact a closer examination reveals that he has already been embalmed. A full scale investigation is launched – could this really be the suicide they at first assumed, or is this some kind of sick joke?
Troubled and exhausted, Lucy goes back to her father’s shell of a house to get some sleep; but there’ll be no rest for her tonight. She’s barely in the front door when a neighbour knocks, in total distress – his wife’s sister has turned up badly beaten. Can she help? NetGalley

I also have added a few books to my own physical bookshelf starting with Capital Crimes: London Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards following this enticing review from Fiction Fan

Capital Crimes London Mysteries

Blurb

With its fascinating mix of people – rich and poor, British and foreign, worthy and suspicious – London is a city where anything can happen. The possibilities for criminals and for the crime writer are endless. London has been home to many of fiction’s finest detectives, and the setting for mystery novels and short stories of the highest quality. Capital Crimes is an eclectic collection of London-based crime stories, blending the familiar with the unexpected in a way that reflects the personality of the city.
Alongside classics by Margery Allingham, Anthony Berkeley and Thomas Burke are excellent and unusual stories by authors who are far less well known. The stories give a flavour of how writers have tackled crime in London over the span of more than half a century. Their contributions range from an early serial-killer thriller set on the London Underground and horrific vignettes to cerebral whodunits.
What they have in common is an atmospheric London setting, and enduring value as entertainment. Each story is introduced by the editor, Martin Edwards, who sheds light on the authors’ lives and the background to their writing. Amazon

Following my post looking at the books on my shelves that look at Women’s Lives I received many great recommendations and chose to start with this one from twitter buddy Poppy @poppypeacock; Nobody’s Child by Kate Adie

Nobody's Child

Blurb

What’s your name? Where were you born? What is your date of birth?
Simple questions that we are asked throughout our life – but what if you didn’t know the answers? Kate Adie uncovers the extraordinary, moving and inspiring stories of just such children – without mother or father, any knowledge of who they might be, or even a name to call their own.
With a curiosity inspired by her own circumstances as an adopted child, Kate shows how the most remarkable adults have survived the experience of abandonment.
From every perspective Kate Adie brings us a personal, moving and fascinating insight into the very toughest of childhood experiences – and shows what makes us who we really are. Amazon

My final addition has been on my radar for a while from a number of mentions around the blogosphere but this brilliant review by Guy Savage meant that I simply had to add This House of Grief by Helen Garner to my bookshelf.

This House of Grief

Blurb

On the evening of 4 September 2005, Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, was driving his three sons home to their mother when his car plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven, and two, drowned. Was this an act of deliberate revenge or a tragic accident? The court case became Helen Garner’s obsession. She was in the courtroom every day of Farquharson’s trial and subsequent retrial, along with countless journalists and the families of both the accused and his former wife.
In this utterly compelling book, Helen Garner tells the story of a man and his broken life. At its core is a search for truth that takes author and reader through complex psychological terrain. Garner exposes, with great compassion, that truth and justice are as complex as human frailty and morality. Goodreads

Any of these take your fancy or perhaps you’ve already read them?
What have you found to read this week? Please do share in the comments below

28 Comments

Filed under Weekly Posts

Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff

Contemporary Fiction 2*s

Contemporary Fiction
2*s

This book is about a marriage between Lotto (Lancelot) and Mathilde, a couple who met when they were in their final year at collage, and went on to have a long marriage. So is this book a template on how to have a long and happy marriage? Well, I hope not! This is a marriage whose foundation is built on secrets, not outright lies but those truths that remain unspoken can be just as fundamental to a relationship.

There was much to enjoy in this book, the gradual revelation of the hidden selves was expertly handled with their life initially described by Lotto (in the fates) and then reflected on by Mathilde (in the furies). I enjoyed viewing the same events from a different perspective with Lotto being in turn exuberant and throwing parties when life goes well, and depressed and needing coaxing back to life when his dreams of being an actor falter. Mathilde by comparison is the woman behind the man, ever supportive of Lotto and equally willing to be the hostess so that he can take centre stage at his parties. We meet their friends some of whom remain constant throughout the marriage turning up with new partners and babies at intervals marking the passing of time.

What is harder in this book is the style, the prose is at times so flowery with an excessive use of metaphors and links to Greek mythology that at times I did something I rarely do, I skipped whole paragraphs simply because it was so cloying and quite frankly difficult to read. To use my mother’s phraseology in parts it just felt like ‘showing-off.’ Part of the problem I had was that although the book spans over two decades not a lot actually happens, and although the author cleverly gives us snapshots of their life at distinct points, allowing the reader to fill in the gaps, at over four hundred pages there was just far too much of nothing happening. I’m sure the style overshadowed the content that was buried within the pages although it seemed to reflect Lotto’s narcissistic tendencies, it completely overshadowed Mathilde even when the spotlight was on her.

In conclusion this was a great premise, I didn’t mind that both characters had flaws, or that despite the secrets, on the whole this was a successful partnership, rather I thought the author created a truth that opposes conventional wisdom in this piece. It is hard to say that if the writing style had been less ostentatious this would have been a better book, as I did like some of the quirkiness, particularly the way the author made comments on the characters thoughts, because I think in some ways the language helped to disguise the characters true nature until the secrets were uncovered but for me it was all a little too much.

I received a copy of this book through Amazon Vine in return for this, my honest review. Fates and Furies is due to be published on 15 September 2015.

11 Comments

Filed under Books I have read

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets – Eva Rice

Historical Fiction  4*s

Historical Fiction
4*s

Regular readers will know that this is quite unlike the dark books I usually read but I chose this on a whim drawn no doubt by the pretty cover.

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is set in the 1950s where eighteen year old Penelope Wallace lives with her beautiful mother Talitha and her younger brother Inigo in the formerly magnificent Milton Magna. One day she has a chance meeting with the lively Charlotte who takes her to tea with her aunt and cousin in Kensington. Meeting Charlotte changes Penelope’s life, here is a girl nearly as tall as she is, but one with style and a love of life and Aunt Clare is the kind of friend everyone should have while making the transition from girl to woman.

I’m not going to pretend that this is anything but a light read, but set as it is in the period following the war, a war which claimed the life of Penelope’s father and meant that their already perilous financial circumstances became further reduced, the family are on the cusp of a changing world. The book is shot through with pop music and good old Elvis Presley is featured in the form of American records bought over by Talitha’s brother-in-law.

Penelope’s and Charlotte’s friendship is touching, being mutually supportive and fun and I was easily drawn into the world they created where meeting their favourite pop star was worth almost anything. It was Penelope that paid the price for those magical tickets by pretending to be Cousin Harry’s girlfriend, the aim being that he would make his ex-girlfriend so jealous that she would return to him rather than marrying some chinless wonder. There are some wonderful scenes with some over-privileged youngsters being quietly mocked by the girls but nothing so nasty that it stops the feel-good factor that this book positively radiates.

Talitha’s story is the sadder part, she is lost without her beloved husband, still very young and beautiful she is overwhelmed by money worries but not so much so that she doesn’t have her extravagant moments. She clearly loves her children but doesn’t necessarily understand them, particularly Inigo’s desire to play the guitar and listen to records rather than concentrate on his schoolwork. I wasn’t as convinced by Inigo’ s character, he seemed far too mature and worldly wise to be only sixteen but his desire to keep his mother happy was nothing if not commendable.

All in all this is the perfect summer read if like me you want to lose yourself in a story that is charming and entertaining if entirely predictable.

I’d like to thank the publishers Headline for allowing me to read a copy of this book before it’s tenth anniversary publication on 1 July 2015.

 

 

11 Comments

Filed under Books I have read

This Week In Books (June 24)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I have just started First One Missing by Tammy Cohen .

First One Missing

Blurb

There are three things no-one can prepare you for when your daughter is murdered:
– You are haunted by her memory day and night
– Even close friends can’t understand what you are going through.
– Only in a group with mothers of other victims can you find real comfort.
But as the bereaved parents gather to offer support in the wake of another killing, a crack appears in the group that threatens to rock their lives all over again.
Welcome to the club no one wants to join. NetGalley

 

I have just finished reading Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff which was an unusual read and I seem to fall into the middle ground; I didn’t hate it but I have to admit to skipping some parts, which I rarely do so I didn’t love it either.

Fates and Furies

You can read the blurb and opening paragraph in yesterday’s post.

My review will be posted shortly

Next I plan to read My Sunshine Away by Milton O’Neal Walsh

my sunshine away

Blurb

Welcome to Woodland Hills, Louisiana: a place of lush, sweltering summers, neighbourhood cookouts in every backyard and vats of chilled beer under the crepe myrtles. A terrible crime is just about to take place…
One day Lindy Simpson cycles home from school and straight into a trap: someone is lying in wait for her, a wire strung between lampposts blocking the path. She is raped just yards from her front door. No one sees a thing and the perpetrator is not caught.
Her fourteen year old neighbour has cherished a crush on Lindy, the ultimate girl next door, since they were kids. After her assault he becomes determined to solve the crime, investigating each suspect in the neighbourhood. But before this long, hot summer is out, it will become clear that the friendly community of Woodland Hills has much to hide. Behind every white picket fence in suburbia lies a tangled web of darkness. In his zeal to solve the mystery, the teenage detective stumbles across a sinister world he doesn’t recognise, drawing ever closer to a terrifying denouement. NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

26 Comments

Filed under Weekly Posts