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

The Dark Meadow – Andrea Maria Schenkel

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

This slim novel packs a mighty punch which is going to linger in this reader’s mind with some powerful issues covered under the guise of a murder mystery.

The story is told eighteen years after the death of Afra and her young son in a small German village when a stranger turns up in a tavern, drunk he has an old cutting from a newspaper about the crime provoking memories of what happened on that day when the storm clouds rolled in on the washing hanging in the cottager’s yard.

Afra had returned to her catholic parent’s home in post-war Germany years after she left as a 14 year old girl, she had no choice, her employer’s had thrown her out for having relations with a Frenchman and so with she returns to a house which slowly fills with anger. When her pregnancy becomes apparent her father, Johann, is resentful of the shame she has bought on him and his wife Theres and suspects both his daughter and his wife of hiding things from him as his dementia takes hold. When the police are called, Johann confesses and the case is closed.

So what is the book about? Where is the mystery? The story is told by recreating the day of the murder from different viewpoints, including Afra’s to build layer upon layer until the whole picture is clear. These multiple narratives range from Police Officers who visited the scene of crime remembering the events of years before, to Afra’s unwanted suitor, to the itinerant salesmen who passed through the village and the shame that Afra’s parents felt about their illegitimate grandson Albert and the ever pressing need for money to cover the cost of two extra mouths to feed. As the day is reconstructed piece by piece despite the evidence being provided as fact with no excitable emotions or race to find the killer that our crime fiction is usually full of, this incredibly powerful novel that made this reader think about the crime committed in terms of the lives it affected and sheer pointlessness far more than those action-packed thrillers ever do.

This is a nuanced and dark tale, based upon a real story in Andrea Maria Schenkel’s native Germany. If the names hadn’t been foreign I would have forgotten that this wasn’t originally written in English so seamless was Andrea Bell’s translation. It is unsurprising given the depth of this novel that Shenkel has won critical acclaim of a literary nature in Germany for this book. I’m pleased to hear that this is her fourth novel and I will be seeking out her earlier work to see if that packs as mighty a punch as this one does.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the publishers Quercus for allowing me to have a copy of this book to read in return for this honest review and to Liz Loves Books whose interview with the author led me to seek this fantastic read out.

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (September 17)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading One Last Dance by Judith Lennox

One Last Dance

Blurb

‘Times change, and sometimes for the better…’
As the twentieth century draws to a close, Esme Reddaway knows that she must uncover the truth. A truth that began during the First World War when Devlin Reddaway fell passionately in love with Esme’s elder sister, Camilla, and promised to rebuild his ancestral home, Rosindell, for her.
But the war changes everything and Devlin returns to England to find that Camilla is engaged to someone else. Angry and vengeful, he marries Esme, who has been secretly in love with him for years. Esme tries to win Devlin’s heart by reviving the annual summer dance. But as the years pass she fears that Rosindell has a malign influence on those who live there, and the revelation of a shocking secret on the night of the dance at Rosindell tears her life apart. Decades later, it is she who must lay the ghosts of Rosindell to rest.
Spanning the last century, Esme’s story of sibling rivalry, heartbreak, betrayal and forgiveness is sure to appeal to fans of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Downton Abbey. Goodreads

I have just finished reading The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion, my review will be following soon.

The Rosie Effect

Blurb

GREETINGS. My name is Don Tillman. I am forty-one years old. I have been married to Rosie Jarman, world’s most perfect woman, for ten months and ten days.
Marriage added significant complexity to my life. When we relocated to New York City, Rosie brought three maximum-size suitcases. We abandoned the Standardised Meal System and agreed that sex should not be scheduled in advance.
Then Rosie told me we had ‘something to celebrate’, and I was faced with a challenge even greater than finding a partner.
I have attempted to follow traditional protocols and have sourced advice from all six of my friends, plus a therapist and the internet.
The result has been a web of deceit. I am now in danger of prosecution, deportation and professional disgrace.
And of losing Rosie forever. Goodreads

Next I am going to read The Dark Meadow by Andrea Maria Schenkel

The Dark Meadow

Blurb

Bavaria, Germany, 1947
At the end of the war, Afra Zauner returns to her parents’ cottage on the edge of Mauther Forest. Unmarried, and pregnant. As she struggles to raise her child, her father’s shame, her mother’s fury and the loud whispers of the neighbours begin to weigh upon her. She doesn’t believe in her sin. But everyone else does.
And someone brings judgement down upon her.
Many years later, Hermann Müller is throwing a drunk out of his tavern. A traveller, who won’t stop ranting about a murder left unsolved, about police who never investigated. Out of curiousity, the file is reopened. And in the cold light of hindsight, a chilling realisation creeps upon the community.
No-one ever atoned for Afra’s death. But her story is waiting to be told.
Andrea Maria Schenkel returns to the form of her groundbreaking The Murder Farm, narrating through suspects, victims and investigators to lead the reader to their own awful understanding. Goodreads

Please share your reads with me in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (August 15)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS

It seems that this week everyone has been tempting me with brilliant sounding books, I have resisted plenty but the following where the temptation was just too strong.

Liz Loves Books had a fascinating interview with the author of The Dark Meadow, Andrea Maria Schenkel that convinced me that I needed a copy of this book.

The Dark Meadow

Blurb

Bavaria, Germany, 1947
At the end of the war, Afra Zauner returns to her parents’ cottage on the edge of Mauther Forest. Unmarried, and pregnant. As she struggles to raise her child, her father’s shame, her mother’s fury and the loud whispers of the neighbours begin to weigh upon her. She doesn’t believe in her sin. But everyone else does.
And someone brings judgement down upon her.
Many years later, Hermann Müller is throwing a drunk out of his tavern. A traveller, who won’t stop ranting about a murder left unsolved, about police who never investigated. Out of curiousity, the file is reopened. And in the cold light of hindsight, a chilling realisation creeps upon the community.
No-one ever atoned for Afra’s death. But her story is waiting to be told.
Andrea Maria Schenkel returns to the form of her groundbreaking The Murder Farm, narrating through suspects, victims and investigators to lead the reader to their own awful understanding NetGalley

Read Liz’s interview and review here

The Night Hunter by Caro Ramsay due to be published in November caught my eye as I enjoyed Singing to the Dead

The Night Hunter

Blurb

Elvie McCulloch’s sister Sophie has been missing for 57 days. She went out for a run – and never came home. Several young woman in the area have disappeared in similar circumstances, and Elvie’s family fears the worst.
As Elvie is driving to her new job late at night, the naked, emaciated body of a young woman crashes from high above onto an oncoming car. Elvie recognises her as Lorna Lennox, who has been missing for weeks. But why was she up there? Where had she been all this time? And why was she running for her life?
Teaming up with retired detective Billy Hopkirk, who has been retained by the mother of one of the missing girls to find her daughter, Elvie determines to find out the truth. But as the pair alternately collaborate with and infuriate investigating police detectives Anderson and Costello, they find themselves up against a terrifying enemy. Someone who has killed before. Someone who will kill again, for pure enjoyment. Someone they call The Night Hunter. NetGalley

I have a copy of The Stolen Girl by Renita D’Silva and I know I will love this after reading the enchanting Monsoon Memories and The Forgotten Daughter

The Stolen Girl

Blurb

For as long as thirteen-year-old Diya can remember, it’s always been just her and her mum, Vani. Despite never staying in one place long enough to call it home, with her mother by her side, Diya has never needed anything else.
Then, in an instant, Diya’s fragile world is shattered. Her mother is arrested, accused of abducting Diya when she was a baby…
Vani has spent a lifetime looking over her shoulder, determined to make the best possible life for her daughter. Now she must fight for her child, re-opening the door to her childhood in India and the woman who was once as close to her as a sister. NetGalley

And lastly I chose something for some lighter reading; Hello From The Gillespies by Monica McInerney which is due to be published in November by Penguin Books (UK)

Hello from the Gillispies

Blurb

Angela Gillespie has been pretending that her family is perfect for the last 30 years. And she is tired of it. This year she needs to tell it how it is.
Angela’s husband is in the throes of a mid-life crisis. Her grown-up daughters are more out of control than ever. And her youngest child spends all of his time talking to an imaginary friend. With fantasy thoughts of a life before marriage and motherhood becoming more than just an innocent daydream, Angela’s real life is slowly slipping out of focus. But, as the repercussions of her too truthful Christmas letter keep coming, perhaps she should have been careful what she wished for… NetGalley

Please share your finds with me because I am always on the look out for another good read and without your help I may miss something amazing.