I read five excellent books this month, after last months disappointing holiday fayre! My daughter began her A levels and two of the books she is studying are "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro and "Asylum" by Patrick McGrath. In an attempt to be able to discuss these with her ( a slim hope, those of you with teenage experience will know they communicate only in grunts and definitely not about their schoolwork!) I thought I would have a read myself.
I had read Ishiguro's novel before, it is a haunting tale of three friends, living a seemingly idyllic childhood but as the story develops we learn they are in fact, clones bred for their organs which are systematically taken from them until they "complete". They cannot escape their fate or early deaths, despite an attempt to stave off the inevitable.It is a beautifully written tale of love and loss and it will stay with you for a long
"Asylum" is a gothic story set mainly in a foreboding mental institution in the 1950s and narrated by the chief psychiatrist. The wife of another doctor embarks on a disastrous affair with a patient, but as the story unfolds the reader begins to question the reliability and motivations of the narrator. After many disturbing events, the end is chilling indeed. I thought this was dark, very well written and worth a read.
I really enjoy the Inspector Montalbano series and "The Wings Of The Sphinx" is the eleventh book by Andrea Camilleri about the world weary Sicilian inspector. This is another self contained mystery but it is the writing, gently humorous and wonderfully descriptive, which makes these books a real pleasure.
As you may recall, Anne Tyler is possibly my favourite author as I have got a little(!) older. I am slowly making my way through all her books, re-reading some I didn't really appreciate even ten years or so ago. "Back When We Were Grown-ups" is another beautiful novel and I did so identify with Rebecca, trying to keep everyone happy whilst hardly anyone seems to appreciate her! Tyler is on top form here, funny and heart-braking, wonderful characters, I loved it.
Our book club choice this month was "State of Wonder" by Ann Patchett which was an Orange Prize finalist. I thoroughly enjoyed this book which followed a young American pharmacy research fellow who is sent to the Amazonian rainforest to try and discover what happened to her colleague who has been reported as dead. It is a very original novel and the characters are finely written, it had me gripped right to the end, highly recommended.