It's been a busy month as we have started the slog around the country known as "University Open Day", that's my excuse for being a little tardy with my May reads.
"Death Comes To Pemberley" by P.D James was our book club choice this month. Written as a"follow on" to Pride and Prejudice, the action takes place after Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years and a murder mystery occurs at their family seat. I haven't read any other P.D James books before and I'm in two minds about this one. I did enjoy the way it was written, it flowed along and it was a page-turner. However, I couldn't really see the POINT of it and far from being the sparky heroine she was, Elizabeth has turned into a bit of a bore. Maybe it's because I ( like millions of others) hold a special place in my heart for P&P, but this was a pale shadow and doesn't make me want to rush and read any more P.D James.
I do like Nick Hornby's novels and "Juliet, Naked" was another good read. Duncan is obsessed with an American singer who has become a recluse and his long suffering girlfriend, Annie, is starting to despair that their fifteen year old relationship is going anywhere. When she begins an email correspondence with the elusive star, it is the start of a relationship which profoundly affects all those involved. Hornby's writing is very funny and warm, he reminds me of Anne Tyler in the way he brings magic to everyday mundanity. He has been quoted as saying Tyler is a great influence on his work and it does show.
"Whatever You Love" by Louise Doughty was a Costa Book Award short-lister a couple of years ago. It is a disturbing story of the effect the death of a nine year old girl and her friend in a hit and run accident has on Laura and her ex husband, David. Doughty does write quite beautifully, you really do feel Laura's pain acutely and it did make me tearful more than once, especially at the end. Laura tries to take revenge on who is responsible for her daughter's death, whilst her husband's new wife has her own problems which culminate in a dramatic ending. I'm not sure I would describe myself " enjoying" the book as the material is so raw, but it certainly is a powerful account of an unimaginable loss.
Finally, summer means Italy, so to get me in the mood I read "Elements of Italy" by Lisa St Aubin De Teran. I've had this book a while, I'm a big fan of her fiction but had never got round to reading these snippets of writing about Italy, where De Teran lived for many years. It's a lovely book, including descriptions of all aspects of Italy from authors such as Eric Newby, D. H Lawrence, Truman Capote and Guiseppe Di Lampedusa. It really put me in the mood for my holidays!