Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Recent Reads ( Part 1 )

 I haven't blogged in such a long time, no excuses, just general sloth really. I've read so many books since my last post, I thought I would divide them up or else it would be rather overwhelming. I have joined a short story reading group at my local library. I have never been a huge fan of short stories, but this group has really made me appreciate the skill of producing a story that can intrigue, amuse or baffle, in just a few pages. We are reading from an Alice Munro collection and The Penguin Book of Modern Short Stories, really interesting reads.

I think I have mentioned I was a big Smiths fan, 'back-in-the-day' and I could not wait to read Morrissey's much hyped autobiography. I thought it was hilarious and the opening chapters describing his upbringing in Manchester in the 60s/70s are quite brilliant. The book is a bit too long, with a great part detailing the court case brought against Morrissey by the former Smiths drummer, Mike Joyce. However, I devoured it in a few sittings, the writing was acerbic and waspish ( like the man himself ) maybe one for the fans only, but I loved it.

'Burial Rites' by Hannah Kent was a brilliant debut novel and I highly recommend it. I was lucky to find it in a charity shop for a couple of pounds as it isn't out in paperback yet. It is based on a true story of Agnes Magnusdottir who was sentenced to death for the murder of her lover in Iceland in 1829. Hannah Kent writes beautifully, she evokes the wild landscapes and weather with vivid prose and I was drawn into Agnes' world and her fate. There is something of a 'dreamy' like quality to the book, I found it very haunting and it stayed with me long after I had finished.

'Gifted and Talented' by Wendy Holden isn't my usual choice of book, but I was drawn to the story of Isabel, who is embarking on university life. This may be because my Isobel will be embarking on university life soon ( A level grades willing ) so it struck a chord. It was quite a funny book and I liked the character of Diana, a recently divorced mother who finds work gardening at an Oxford college. However, the rest of the characters were a bit hopeless and cliched. I know I shouldn't have expected Brideshead Revisited, but it did not amount to very much at all. I haven't read any of Wendy Holden's books before, and I'm not in a hurry to repeat the experience.

'The End of Your Life Book Club' by Will Schwalbe was just lovely. It is a true life account of how Will and his mum bond over books as she is receiving treatment for cancer. It is a true story and extremely moving. Mary Anne  was an amazing woman who touched the lives of many, and Will writes about her quite beautifully. The books they read are discussed, many have particular resonance to their situation, some I had read and a couple I have since purchased. This is a lovely read, for bibliophiles especially, and I'm sure Mary Anne would be so proud of the way Will has written about their relationship, his love for her shines through.

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