Posted in Books I have read

The A26 – Pascal Garnier

Contemporary Fiction 3*s
Contemporary Fiction
3*s

Pascal Garnier writes about the underbelly of humanity. In The A26 we meet Bernard, a former worker on the railway in a provincial French town. Bernard is dying, he’s known for a while but the time is getting closer;

Deep-down, these last months, it was hope which had made him suffer the most. ‘Bernard Bonnet, your appeal has been refused’ He felt liberated and had nothing more to lose.’

And what does a man do when he has nothing to lose? Well Bernard decides to do something that I suspect he’s been longing to do all of his life.

But this story isn’t just about Bernard, it’s also about his older sister Yolande who as I am finding, is exactly the sort of character that belongs in a Garnier novel. Yolande has been confined to her house since the end of World War II surrounded by rubbish

Through the closed shutters, shafts of light came in from the street, illuminating the chaos cluttering the dining room. A network of narrow passages tunnelled through the heaped-up jumble of furniture, books, clothing, all kinds of things, made it possible to get from one room to another provided you walked like an Egyptian,’

Yolande watches the world go by through a hole made specially in the shutter, the only place in the whole house that it was possible to see out.

Depending on her mood, she called it the ‘bellybutton’ or the ‘world’s arsehole.’

In the A26 we get a glimpse of this strange world the siblings inhabit, unsure of what caused Yolande to retreat totally from the world, often confused and still thinking she’s living in war-time but unsure exactly why she insists on this solitude. You can’t help but wonder what will become of Yolande when Bernard dies and she is left to cope – the answer isn’t a pretty one!

But while Bernard is alive he is also living a secret life but out in the open air, his wants and needs submitted to as he finds himself drawn back to the railway where he spent so much of his life.  All of this makes for a very dark book indeed as the lives of the siblings are revealed, but unlike the previous Garnier book I read, Boxes, the darkness finds no relief in a witty turn of phrase. I found this book to be unrelentingly bleak and disturbing and felt that the series of events which were recounted were designed to shock and disgust the reader, although I was pleased when the author provided an insight into the background which led up to the eventual unravelling of Bernard. As with Boxes this book has been superbly translated by Melanie Florence.

I’d like to thank Gallic Books for allowing me to read a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion. Apparently there are over sixty books written by Garnier and I will soon be reading one his fans recommend more highly than this one; The Moon in the Dead Eye.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (November 25)

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 am reading some historical crime fiction, Dead Centre by Joan Lock which takes in the bleak winter of 1887 and the discontent among London’s population due to the high levels of unemployment.

Dead Centre

You can read the synopsis and an excerpt of this one in yesterday’s post

I have recently finished The A26 by Pascal Garnier, another dark and disturbing tale from this author.

The A26

Blurb

The future is on its way to Picardy with the construction of a huge motorway. But nearby is a house where nothing has changed since 1945. Traumatised by events that year, Yolande hasn’t left her home since. And life has not been kinder to Bernard, her brother, who is now in the final months of a terminal illness. Realizing that he has so little time left, Bernard’s gloom suddenly lifts. With no longer anything to lose, he becomes reckless – and murderous. NetGalley

My review will follow shortly

Next up is Rowan’s Well by CJ Harter, a psychological thriller that involves family secrets and friendship.

Rowans Well

Blurb

Who is your best friend? What wouldn’t you do for them? Lie? Betray? Or worse…?
When Will Cooper meets strange, tormented Mark Strachan at university he soon has cause to be thankful as they are caught up in a fatal accident. And when they marry sisters Olivia and Eloise Brooke, their fates are tied. But Will could never have imagined how strong Mark’s influence will become and that one day he will have to pay a price for their friendship. Because Mark has a secret flaw that goes to the very core of him. A secret so deep, he will wreck lives to protect it.
Imagine a psychological story that has the power to make you question all you know about family life. Rowan’s Well is a remote house on England’s north east coast, home to the charismatic Brooke family. At Rowan’s Well, the beautiful resourceful Brooke women fight to save their family and stay together despite murder and ruthless betrayal. They are confronted with events that make them question the nature of love – mother love, marital love, the love of a father for his son. And as for friendship – at Rowan’s Well, it’s hard to tell where love ends and hatred begins… Amazon

What are you reading this week? Do share!

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (October 17)

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.

My trip to Bath last week was a wonderful and much needed break and Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights was fabulous, while I was there a lady was having one of the reading spas, the depth of knowledge and passion displayed while explaining the choices made meant that there was no doubt that this is a shop full of staff who truly love books. Bath Mr Bs

One of the suggestions was Pascal Garnier‘s The Front Seat Passenger and by coincidence I have a copy of The A26 to read from NetGalley.

The A26

Blurb

The future is on its way to Picardy with the construction of a huge motorway. But nearby is a house where nothing has changed since 1945. Traumatised by events that year, Yolande hasn’t left her home since. And life has not been kinder to Bernard, her brother, who is now in the final months of a terminal illness. Realizing that he has so little time left, Bernard’s gloom suddenly lifts. With no longer anything to lose, he becomes reckless – and murderous. NetGalley

I’m keen to see what else this author has to offer after being delighted by the language in Boxes by the same author.

Whilst browsing in the shop, mindful that I only had a carry-on bag for the flight home, I narrowed my book choices to a mere three books! Next time, and there will be another visit, not just for the books, Bath is beautiful, the boat tour was delightful and I have never been to a Spa with a view like the Thermae Baths.

Bath Thermae Spa

The Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain is a book I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time and was begging to be purchased.

Testament of Youth

Blurb

In 1914 Vera Brittain was eighteen and, as war was declared, she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life – and the life of her whole generation – had changed in a way that was unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era.
TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain’s account of how she survived the period; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded and how she emerged into an altered world. A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Vera Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time. Amazon

I also picked up The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey, a book I’d never heard of but sounds just my kind of read – this is the beauty of a well-stocked independent bookshop, I love newly published books but sometimes it is good to find treasures that have been missed.

The Secret Rooms

Blurb

At 6 am on 21 April 1940 John the 9th Duke of Rutland, and one of Britain’s wealthiest men, ended his days, virtually alone, lying on a makeshift bed in a dank cramped suite of rooms in the servants’ quarters of his own home, Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire.
For weeks, as his health deteriorated, his family, his servants – even the King’s doctor – pleaded with him to come out, but he refused.
After his death, his son and heir, Charles, the 10th Duke of Rutland, ordered that the rooms be locked up and they remained untouched for sixty years.
What lay behind this extraordinary set of circumstances?
For the first time, in The Secret Rooms, Catherine Bailey unravels a complex and compelling tale of love, honour and betrayal, played out in the grand salons of Britain’s stately homes at the turn of the twentieth century, and on the battlefields of the Western Front. At its core is a secret so dark that it consumed the life of the man who fought to his death to keep it hidden. This extraordinary mystery from the author of Black Diamonds, perfect for lovers of Downton Abbey, Brideshead Revisited and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. Goodreads

Having recently been delighted by Sarah Waters novel The Night Watch, I decided to pick up The Little Stranger.

The Little Strange

Blurb

The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty post war summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life? Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his. Goodreads

Of course now the charge for plastic bags has been introduced in England (something that we have had in Jersey since 2008) I bought myself a canvas bag to hold my precious purchases and to remind myself of a wonderful visit.

Finally, but by no means last for my finds for this week, I have a copy of Lost Girls by Angela Marsons, whose previous books Silent Scream and Evil Games both garnered 5 stars from me. Lost Girls will be published on 6 November 2015

Lost Girls

Blurb

Two girls go missing. Only one will return.
The couple that offers the highest amount will see their daughter again. The losing couple will not. Make no mistake. One child will die.
When nine-year-old best friends Charlie and Amy disappear, two families are plunged into a living nightmare. A text message confirms the unthinkable; that the girls are the victims of a terrifying kidnapping.
And when a second text message pits the two families against each other for the life of their children, the clock starts ticking for D.I. Kim Stone and the squad.
Seemingly outwitted at every turn, as they uncover a trail of bodies, Stone realises that these ruthless killers might be the most deadly she has ever faced. And that their chances of bringing the girls home alive, are getting smaller by the hour…
Untangling a dark web of secrets from the families’ past might hold the key to solving this case. But can Kim stay alive long enough to do so? Or will someone’s child pay the ultimate price? NetGalley

What have you found to read this week? Do share!