Thursday, 20 September 2012

My August Reads

I read three excellent books this month, and four not-so-excellent ones!
Linda Grant is a an author I really enjoy, her books are intelligent and very well written. "We Had It So Good" follows the life, into late middle-age, of Stephen. He came from Los Angeles in the sixties to study at Oxford, gets sent down and never finds his way back to the States. Grant writes beautifully of Stephen's relationships with his friends, parents, wife and children. His relationship with his father is particularly interesting and the account of their trip back to Poland and the consequent revelations, had me enthralled.

Jane Shilling is a writer who contributes to various publications, and her memoir "The Stranger In The Mirror" consists of her musings on entering "middle age", a subject close to my heart! She is another beautiful writer, she uses many literary allusions, and her prose is exquisite. I would recommend this to anyone of a certain age, but it is not a comfortable read!

"Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?" is a fabulous book. Jeanette Winterson revisits the territory of "Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit" with her autobiography of growing up in a strict Christian household, headed by the terrifyingly bonkers "Mrs Winterson". It charts her extraordinary life, and I loved the descriptions of the North West and its people. Winterson was adopted and is reunited with her birth mother, eventually, but she is searingly honest in describing this difficult relationship. For all her many faults, Mrs Winterson made Jeanette into the person she is, and her writing stems from her strange childhood. She ponders if she had grown up with her birth mother, she may not have been the writer she is today.

I went to Italy in August and took four books that I could leave there and not mind if they got wet or covered in sun cream.
Linwood Barclay's thrillers are a good holiday read and "The Accident" was a great page turner. The twist in the tale was a bit obvious, but it wasn't at all bad.
I usually really enjoy Joanna Trollope, but "The Other Family" was a tad weak. It is a tale of a popular song-writer who had left his wife and son, setting up home with his partner and having three more children. He dies and the action is concerned with the effect on them all. None of the characters were particularly well-written and not an awful lot happens. Rather disappointing.
I loved "American Wife" by Curtis Sittenfeld, a fictional account of a First Lady, based on the life of Laura Bush. "Prep" is set in the world of a rarified American private school. It was well written and I did enjoy it but "American Wife" is much better.
"Never Going Home" by Evonne Warham was not so good. It was reviewed in the magazine we get at the library and looked like a good holiday thriller. However, it was a Mills and Boon type romance, cringe-worthy in the descriptions of the attraction between the main characters. The mother who has lost her only child only recently, falls straight into the arms of the "security consultant" who helps her, after every major shock she is in his arms. It rings so untrue and the plot was so incredible I had to laugh in the end.


  1. my 'to-read' pile just gets bigger!!

  2. I know, that's the danger of reading blogs! Do not bother with any from the second lot though!