An excellent month for good books in which the skill of librarians defeats me.
Michael Robotham- The Suspect. A psychological thriller. I watched this on ITV as a six part series recently, and as I had read books by the same author decided to read this and decide which I preferred. Both are very good indeed, and the TV programme was pretty true to the book. A few details had been changed for a modern audience, so Jack in the programme actually had the nickname Jock in the book ,because he’s Scottish. Characters that are clearly white in the book have not been cast that way. The setting for the ending is different but plays out the same. I think that actually the programme setting is better, I also liked the way the Detective played a bigger role in the programme. I really like the quote from Linwood Barclay on the front cover…” Michael Robotham doesn’t just make me scared for his characters; he makes my heart ache for them” . I enjoyed both the programme and the book, but you probably don’t need to watch and read both, unless you’d like too.
Kate Ellis- The Flesh Tailor- Spooky book title hiding a perfectly ordinary murder mystery not gruesome at all. Early on you have the murder followed by the discovery of some very old skeletons at Tailors Court, which might be linked to tales of body-snatching by a rogue physician, hence the name Flesh Tailor. Didn’t see the ending, thoroughly good read if you like murder mysteries, frankly can’t think if anything more appropriate to October!
Patricia Macdonald- The Girl in the Woods- Fifteen years ago , Blair’s best friend Molly was murdered, and Adrian Jones wrongly convicted for it. A death bed confession from a witness leads to Blair setting out to find the real murderer. Pretty good read.
I fully appreciate I said I wasn’t going to request more library books so I could finish the ones I had . It has to be agreed that when it comes to books I have even less will power than I do for yarn, fabric and Liquorice Allsorts .On the plus side I haven’t actually requested more books, but by the self-service returns machine the staff have taken to making table displays, oh so tempting tables, including one that had been called Books with books within. I was undone… First one to catch my eye had featured on some of my favourite bookish blogs:-
Susan Wiggs- The Lost and Found Bookshop- I suppose you could almost call it an historical romance. I’m not a fan of romances, this one teeters’ on just the right side of not being nauseous . On the absolute plus side for me it’s set in San Francisco, in a bookshop. Now I’ve only been to the US three times, once to New York and twice to San Francisco , and I loved them both. So the setting was a huge plus, and I recognised some of the locations. Whilst there we had visited a second hand bookshop on Height Ashbury, and I had bought two Jack London books. White Fang gets a mention in this book.So I am totally sold on this novel. I just wish she had brought more of the historical mystery into the plot and less slush. Thoroughly enjoyable read, loved the reminders of two wonderful holidays, including the fleeting references to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite both of which we visited.
Rosamunde Pilcher- The Day of the Storm- Being the second book I chose of books set in a bookshop. Honestly the bookshop barely featured. This is a short novel and felt very familiar. Villa in Ibiza, grandfather who was an artist based in Cornwall, a painting pivotal to the plot, love interest etc. No scrubbed wooden table, but a kitchen table made an appearance! It was highly readable, and given that the storm in the title coincided with an horrendous downpour here, which I had to drive through with floods on the road, beating rain, headlights on, leaves swirling, branches breaking, etc. I was highly relieved to be home with a nice cup of Earl Grey tea, only to encounter another rainstorm in the book. Anyway a cosy read for a wet Autumn. I’m now tempted to read another book by the author to see if Ibiza and Cornwall crop up again.
Jessica Moor – Young Women- This was recommended by a fellow blogger, and was very good indeed. Oddly the cover would have put me off borrowing it, so I’m glad I reserved it and just collected it. Very much set in the present day and concerns issues of gender power dynamics, relationships and friendships. It helps me bridge the gap between life as I knew it in my 20’s and life for women in their 20’s now. I am not at all certain which, if I could, choose when to be in my 20’s. Each generation has its own conundrums to negotiate. I was very confused about one scene concerning swimming in a pond on Hampstead Heath with a lifeguard and changing rooms. It totally made no sense to me, so I googled it, and yes there is a female pond, a male pond and a family pond, each with changing rooms and lifeguard where you can wild swim on Hampstead Heath for less than £3 a session. Well who knew? I wonder has anyone actually been there?
Ann Cleeves- Silent Voices- being one of the Vera series. I have started to rewatch the Vera TV series, and knowing I had requested this one from the library I skipped it on the TV. I’m glad I did. The novel is a solid who dun it,full of twists and turns, lots of red herrings etc. Thoroughly enjoyable. Immediately I had finished it I watched the television programme for comparison. The First thing that struck me was two odd name changes- a policeman called Charlie in the book is Kenny in the programme and a wife of Vera’s sidekick is Sarah in the novel and Seline in the TV series. I struggle to understand that. The Shetland books on the BBC result in a six part series, whereas Vera on ITV is condensed to a two hour programme. This means that a lot of characters and settings are stripped away, with no slow build up , and the locations made more dramatic. Book and programme are both enjoyable. I found the book a more satisfying experience though. In a two hour programme you don’t get chance to engage with all the characters. Love to know other’s thoughts on this.
Claire Fuller-Swimming Lessons. The third book I chose with a bookshop/ book backdrop, and coincidently a swimming session in the ponds on Hampstead Heath. Maybe there is a rule that modern books must have swimming on the Heath. Anyway it was an enjoyable read, hard to pin down with a genre.. Bit of mystery, where is Flora’s mother Ingrid, why does her father have so many books, and what are the letters he is looking for? The narrative is told by Flora and alternatively by Ingrid. There is life, love, relationships, books, oh and letters.
As it so happens I stayed with my sister in law in Cornwall very recently. We fell to talking as you do, about the family, and it turns out my father in law kept a years worth of letters from his time as a mature student in the 60’s when he lived in Lancashire with my MIL and three children remaining down South. Now Mr E had clear recollections of this time, and was 10 at the time. Letters from them all were written every single week, and it is a truly wonderful family archive . Big brother K is angsting about homework and school, Mr E is totally obsessed with whatever project he was engrossed in,. cubs, football, model making, gardening etc… Little sister M dictated her letters to K who wrote her words down for her to copy.MIL writes of domestic matters and missing N… She writes in Greek for those bits! We had a wonderful time reminiscing and comparing what we knew of this time… How we were told, by those involved. I think it’s a shame people have stopped writing personal letters…
Anyway life imitating art coincidently. I use old photos as bookmarks, the ones that missed the albums, I find them in recipe books, art books, knitting books… Gradually I’m now displaying them on the fridge. The latest one I found yesterday was of my in laws and my middle son as a baby.
Which brings me to the end of this month’s books. Have you read any of them, what did you think? How well do books translate into programmes and films? Have you got any old treasured letters?
I returned most of these books as I finished them. The library display of books set within bookshops has gone.. It was replaced with books with Autumn in the title. Yes I succumbed to two of them. What am I like? The willpower of a gnat.