Another good month in books for me, here’s my December list, enjoy.
Christopher Brookmyre- Quite Ugly One Morning- A crime novel set in Edinburgh. A lot of humour, some of the toilet and gallows variety, and some rather gruesome scenes, treated to a bit of Lock Stock type humour. It made me laugh, but not sure I want more.
Erin Morgenstern- The Night Circus- Thank you everyone who gave this book the heads up. Well outside my usual taste in books and very enjoyable. Proper magic, a deadly contest, a love story, and a wonderful circus we would all adore to see. Pity it had animals but never mind. I loved it but I did think it a tad overlong, maybe some of the tents could have been missed out. Maybe not.
Margaret Atwood- The Handmaid’s Tale- Gosh. I didn’t watch the TV series, so I came to this fresh not really knowing what to expect. Not knowing now what to think. Kept having to remind myself that it was written in 1985. Almost believable that it could happen. Clamp down on society under the pretext of protecting us from radical Islam, believable. Preventing access to books and not letting women have access to education and books, believable. Infertility caused by nuclear accidents, chemicals, earthquakes, believable. Women behaving as the Aunts do towards other women, thinking of the Nuns and the Magdalene laundries, believable. A cashless society that enables women to have their bank accounts forcibly frozen, believable. This will take a lot of digesting I can see. I have also found out that Margaret Atwood is publishing a follow-up book next year. Well constructed and since the blurb on the back calls it a modern classic from the start, I am not arguing. Certainly one of my top five books read this year, and one from my 109 authors list ( see page).
Patricia Highsmith- Edith’s Diary- Patricia Highsmith is an author I had heard of, one I knew was said to be good, and one I associated with crime. I came across this book whilst shelving books at the library, and it wasn’t categorised as a crime novel. I really enjoyed the book which written n the 1970s, but the action takes place from the 50’s to the 70’s. Edith does keep a diary, but maybe her written version of life takes on too rosy a glow. I don’t want to give you any spoilers as this is well written and thought-provoking. People don’t write quite so many diaries, but in these days of social media, there is a tendency to over emphasise the positive. I like that the book takes time to develop characters, it’s well written and highly enjoyable for what is actually quite a sad book.
Benjamin Markovits- You Don’t Have To Live Like This- This is set in Detroit. In case you didn’t know this city has become very rundown, the epitome of the malaise in the US that enabled the election of the President. Whole neighbourhoods have become derelict. The Snail of Happiness in her comment on my post regarding nature and the Nissan Hut left me a wonderful link to show how nature can reclaim buildings-here. They are worth looking at and made useful background for this novel. Greg Marnier is goes to a college reunion and meets an old friend Robert James. Robert James has made a fortune from his hedge fund and wants to get into politics as a democrat. He has a brilliant scheme to buy up properties in Detroit , and rent them out to companies for business, and individuals to regenerate the city, artists, academics, medics, restaurant owners. He holds fund-raising events and Obama attends one. But the scheme ignores the people who remained and the incomers were not really welcome. The book is interesting and takes a nice steady pace, which I realise now that I like care taken by an author to build a plot. My only slightly negative comment is that there are a lot of characters and I did lose track of who everyone was. It was a good read.
David Nicholls- One Day. Emma and Dexter spend the night of their graduation ceremony together, having been mere friends throughout their years of studies. They go their separate ways. We catch up with them on the same day- 15 July- for the next twenty years. Sometimes they spend the day together, sometimes we read a letter one or other wrote, sometimes it’s just a phone call, and occasionally they are too busy leading their own life to bother with the other. About 2/3rds of the way through the ending seemed inevitable to me, and it was. However, it was handled rather well I felt, and so I didn’t feel let down. It was a good, but not a great read.
And that I think is my last book for 2018. Have you read any of these, what did you think to them? I’m not certain yet how many I have read this year but I think it is marginally less than the last two years. Not that quantity matters a fig. I’ll review my top five books of this year in another post.
Meantime I hope you all had a peaceful and contented Christmas break. Were you gifted any books, if so do tell, were they surprises or ones you asked for and are itching to read. I reserved rather a lot of library books to tide me over the Winter and I look forward to sharing my thoughts on them over 2019.