Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2016, Book Review, Books I have read

Other People’s Secrets – Louise Candlish #20booksofsummer

Book 7

Contemporary Fiction 3*s
Contemporary Fiction
3*s

A boathouse by Lake Orta sounds the most wonderful place for a holiday, and it is a break from life that Ginny and Adam Trustlove need. They have recently had a stillborn son and need to reconnect and find a way forward from this terrible tragedy. The boathouse seems to be the perfect place to do so, peace and quiet and a beautiful blue lake.

The couple have only just begun to settle in when the peace is shattered by Bea and Marty Sale and their three children, Dom, Esther and Pippi who have come to stay at the main villa. Noisy and full of life the couple are spending a last holiday together with their adult and teenaged children before the last, Pippi flies the nest.

The clue to this story really is in the title. All of the holidaymakers are hiding a secret of one sort or another, some easy to discern, other’s less so. From successful Marty who has promised to take a well-earned break from their clothing line who is only too glad to widen the party to include the less outgoing Trustloves to Pippi and the young man she draws into the circle hoping for a summer romance.

The book follows the summer break of both parties though the days of the holiday, and we get to see how the newcomer to the group, Pippi’s find Zach fits in. Because, yes you’ve guessed it he is also hiding a secret!
This book lets us examine each of the characters but the two that stand out for me are Bea who is questioning the intervening years since she was fully involved in what has become Marty’s business and Pippi who is an entitled spoilt little rich girl who is totally unused to getting what she wants.

There are some big themes in this story, notably grief and adultery but there are some other aspects of relationships that are less often explored in this type of books – I can’t tell you what because it’s a secret!!

Louise Candlish is excellent at setting the scene, I had no trouble picturing the setting at all but I wasn’t quite so convinced by the characters in this book as I have been in other books by this author. Part of the problem is the speed, all within a two-week holiday, that all the secrets come tumbling out, the characters are so busy reacting to the latest bombshell for them to feel like people you’d know. It isn’t so much that their actions were unrealistic, more that I didn’t have a baseline as a starting point. I wasn’t overly convinced that Bea and Ginny would have shared their innermost thoughts quite so readily, the women came from different worlds and didn’t really have an awful lot in common because of that. But hey this was a holiday and we all know anything can, and does happen then.

Although maybe not as suited to my reading tastes as the other books by this author this is an entertaining read which is entirely suited for holiday reading where you can be transported to another life which is, hopefully, far more hectic than yours.

First Published UK: 2010
Publisher: Sphere
No of Pages 372
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Other Books by Louise Candlish
The Sudden Departure of the Frasers
The Disappearance of Emily Marr
The Swimming Pool

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The End of the Affair – Graham Greene

Literature 5*'s
Literature
5*s

I fell in love with this book from the first page, the beautiful writing far outweighs the somewhat depressing underlying story of the end of the affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah. This tale is told from the protagonist’s viewpoint, interestingly, some years after this defining mark in his life and it is quickly apparent that Bendrix (he is a man known by his surname) is still trying to make sense of the strong feelings, of both love and hate he still harbours.

The quality of Graham Greene’s writing was simply brilliant. My copy had an introduction by Monica Ali that I was reading out of curiosity soon after receiving the book and despite already having started another book I turned to the first page and I simply couldn’t stop reading, fortunately this is a fairly slim book at only 160 pages or so.

So if the quality of the writing that had me hooked, this was closely followed by the description of life in London at the time of, and immediately after, the Second World War which for me was fascinating. Parkis the Private Detective who along with his son trail Sarah on Bendrix’s behest, finds the person she is visiting by the powdering of a doorbell which is so much more romantic than rummaging through her rubbish or hacking into Facebook.

I’m grateful for Lady Fancifull for suggesting this book to me; it is as the back cover says ‘One of the most true and moving novels of my time, in anybody’s language’ William Faulkner. The truth is in part because this novel holds up as a mirror a myriad of human actions that all of us have surely observed, and too many of us have participated in… How quickly love can turn from:

“…the moment of absolute trust and absolute pleasure, the moment when it was impossible to quarrel because it was impossible to think.”
to
“I became aware that our love was doomed; love had turned into a love affair with a beginning and an end. I could name the very moment when it had begun, and one day I knew I should be able to name the final hour.”

When at this point Bendrix begins sabotaging the affair, pressing Sarah for more, imagining her unfaithfulness with others can only hasten the end that he so fears.

I struggled more with the aspect of Catholicism that threads through the book, there is lots of philosophising about God which would normal have me closing the book, but because this was a book I was experiencing rather than simply ‘reading’ the quote that follows made me think more deeply about why encountering strong religious views has the power to affect me so much as much as it does…

“I hate you, God. I hate you as though you actually exist.”

I am going to finish my review here (because I need to stop somewhere and I could write about this book for ages) with a simply statement: if you haven’t read this book, you should, there is simply so much power packed between the pages of this slim novel it blew me away and I know that this is one book I will be re-reading very soon.