October has been a good month for book choices. So glad I go to the library with a list of a 109 authors to look for. Here’s what I have read.
Ian McEwan- Atonement- I groaned a little when I saw it had been shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2001. I really am going to have to get over my prejudice against these books which get on prize lists, just because I read a couple I didn’t like is a very poor reason to condemn the lot. Especially as I can’t even remember which books they were.
Moving on then to Atonement. I do so wish that the blurb on the back didn’t give away so much. The title Atonement suggests that a book is going to be about someone atoning for something. I spent the first half of the novel wanting to know what so the atoning bit started. Page 166 before you find out the what. Which is a great shame because the lead up is brilliant, and if you haven’t read the book be patient. A single day begins on P18 and ends on P187, the tension builds slowly through a hot summers day in a very well to do household in 1935, the servants struggle with cooking Roast Beef which no-one wants, children squabble and young love blooms.
It’s not often the various Parts in a novel are so completely different from one another. Part two is all about a group of soldiers in the second world war trudging through Belgium, or it might be France, my geography is hopeless, anyway they are making their way to Dunkirk in an ignoble retreat. Only us Brits could turn a disaster of military failing into the triumph of grit and determination by the ordinary man.
Part three, is different again, and deals with the aftermath of Dunkirk in London hospital. And by golly this is a powerful bit of writing.
Part four is set in the present day.
It’s a jolly good book and I recommend it, but relish the first part, and don’t be in a rush as I was to find out what exactly happened. It’s a masterful build up. Parts 2 and 3 are brilliant too and for these two parts I have decided that this books makes it into my top 100 books! I liked the ending too, as the author doesn’t dodge a final confrontation by killing off the protagonists. When authors do that I get very cross.
John Boyne- A History of Loneliness- Oh my this book got to me. Tears were streaming down my face at the end. Plot is quite easily summed up for you- Irish Catholic Priest. Going to quote from the front cover” Boyne writes with compelling anger about the abuses of power and the dangers of submission”, Helen Dunmore, Guardian. There is another part which brought tears to my eyes too, the description of the Priest’s sisters illness as she moves into a care home. I read this in a couple of sittings, a compelling read.
Both these books are making it onto my Top 100 books.
John Grisham- The Whistler- time for a bit of easy reading, another cracking good thriller, corrupt judge, casinos, golf courses and scheming!
Andrew Taylor- The Silent Boy- Historical crime novel, set in England during the French Revolution. Boy becomes mute after witnessing the death of his mother, taken to safety in England, but there are rival claims to be his guardian. The book is a good read but ended a bit abruptly, can’t help wondering if there is a missing page from this library book. The best bit for me was the description of life in 18th century England. The fancy manor houses don’t sound so fancy when the money runs out , the damp and vermin get in and the decor goes. It made me very grateful for running hot water and central heating.
Hilary Mantel- The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher- collection of short stories. My favourite was Harley Street, most appropriate for the time of year.
Susan Hill- The Mist in the Mirror. A ghost story! Quite good, the build up is better than the ending which was a bit of an anti climax. Monmouth is haunted by ghosts, when he returns to England. Who are they? Why do his new friends warn him against finding out about Conrad Vane, an explorer?
So that’s what I read this month. Have you had any good reads, or bad ones to avoid? Please leave a link to any book post in the comments.