A mixed bag this month…
Jenny Blackhurst- How I Lost You– I read one of her books in May, so was keen to try another. This is her first novel and was shaping up to be good psychological thriller, but then it introduced a rather silly idea. The story would have worked without this , and been a much better read. Perfectly readable though.
Marina Lewycka- The Good, The Bad and the Little Bit Stupid. Absolutely loved this book. 79 Year old George is in a pickle. He voted Leave in the Brexit referendum, his wife Rosie Remain. He moves in with Brenda next door aka The Bitch, who calls Rosie the Mad Cow. Then George wins millions in a lottery he can’t recall entering. His son Sensible Sid says it’s a scam, but the money appears in his savings account and George duly changes the password as per Sid’s instructions. All very plausible so far, but them one thing leads to another, it gets ridiculous and silly but totally wonderful.
Kate Ellis- The Mechanical Devil– another murder mystery with archeology thrown in. Good.
Benjamin Markovits A Weekend In New York– so what to say about this book? Clever, well written but ever so slightly dull.Have you ever had a long weekend somewhere with your extended family, in which the older generation seems old, the next- their children revert a bit to sibling roles and rivalries, and their children just want to go home? This family all gather in three apartments for a long weekend to watch what will probably the last professional appearance by Paul at a tennis tournament. He expects to loose, only having attained moderate success in the past. Action such as it is has the family moving around, forming and reforming into small groups, having meals in and out, and catching up on various news, house plans, jobs and relationships, as you do… nothing happens, the conversations are very realistic, but a bit mundane, and nothing happens, I didn’t get the sense of anyone really changing. I made it to the end is all I can say, and I am quite happy to think this is my ignorance not to have enjoyed it much, except the quotes from the papers on the back cover are a bit mealy mouthed ” Elegant, absorbing…What a fine ear Markovits has for the way people talk” The Guardian. Have you read it, what did you think?
Evelyn Waugh- Brideshead Revisited- This was a re-read for me. Think I read it as a teenager then as a Young adult in my twenties. Amazing how your perceptions of a novel change as you get older. It was written by Waugh during the war as he saw the demise of the country manors. Later on what he feared didn’t happen as the National Trust stepped in. However of course many houses became schools, care homes or apartments. The character everyone recalls is Sebastian whom Charles meets as an undergraduate in Oxford in 1923. They lead a typical student life. Whilst the family is absent Sebastian takes Charles to Brideshead, which is said to be in Wiltshire, but is probably based on a house in Gloucestershire , certainly isn’t Castle Howard in North Yorkshire which was used for the TV series and the film. Charles very much loves the house. Over the book he marries, abandons his studies, becomes an artist and has an affair with Julia, which comes to naught as she can’t turn her back on Catholicism. Sebastian meanwhile is sent down for drunkeness etc, goes to Morocco before being taken in by a monastery. In some ways that wish I hadn’t re read it, I prefer the book I thought it was, which was rather romantic. Have you ever reread a book and been disappointed ?
Laura Purcell- Bone China- Read this quickly as its due back at the library on Friday. Maybe that’s why I can’t quite decide what I think about it. It came with great plaudits, likened to a Daphne du Maurier, but it’s no Rebecca. It begins with an unusual narrator- a lady’s maid on her way to a new employer in Cornwall. The story covers two time periods forty years apart sometime in the late 18th-19th century. Hester the maid gradually reveals that she isn’t a very nice person at all, crossing the boundary between employee and employer and behaving very badly when she falls out of favour. The new household in Cornwall is odd, gradually the past life of the house is told. Dubious medical practices, herbal medicines and folklore get into the mix, and to my mind it wasn’t the gothic psycholigical suspense I was hoping for, it was just silly. Quite early on the oddest character’s behaviour is explained so no way is the reader going to be drawn into her nonsense. It’s a real shame, the unpleasant lady’s maid had real potential to be another Mrs Danvers, the book just didn’t deliver. I wonder is anyone else a Rebecca fan, have you found a character to rival Mrs Danvers for devotion and malice ?
And as always I love to know if you have read any good books this month.