Wednesday, 13 August 2014

July Reads

I went away to the US this month so I always like to take 'lighter reads' I can finish and leave at the hotels. I took five such books with me..

Linwood Barclay and Harlen Coben write thrillers that are real page turners, their latest books are just the thing for by the pool or waiting around at the airport. 'Never Saw it Coming' was a bit of a thin storyline and according to the sleeve notes, it grew from a short story...and that did show. However, for a quick, exciting read, these authors are hard to beat.

The three books by women authors were a mixed bag. I really enjoyed Mhairi McFarlane's 'Here's Looking At You'. Anna endured a rubbish time at school and was bullied terribly because of her weight with one boy in particular being very cruel. Several years later, she is now an academic and had shed her teenage weight when she meets her nemesis again. I'm sure you can guess the rest, but McFarlane writes with warmth and humour. I was really rooting for Anna and as a light, holiday read, I can recommend this one.

I loved the original Bridget Jones books, this one sees our heroine older, with two children, but no wiser and she is now on her own ( no plot spoilers!). However, I was a bit underwhelmed by this, what was kookily endearing is now just annoying. There are a few funny bits but this was no great shakes.

Gill Hornby's 'The Hive' was another annoying read. The plot concerns a year in the life of a group of women whose children attend the local school. All the clich├ęd characters are here, and although it was very funny in parts, I thought the plot was a bit daft and the extended metaphor of the queen bee, worker bees and the hive, was laboured. Hornby does write well but I think her talents were wasted here.

Our book club choice this month was Ernest Hemmingway's 'A Farewell To Arms'. I had never read any of his books before and I really wanted to like this..but I didn't. I know he was a reporter and his style of rapid prose was revolutionary in the 1920s, but I didn't enjoy it. The language was very dated, the characters were unlikeable and I thought the horrors of war are far better captured in other works of literature. I was assured his later books are better, but I'm not in a rush to read anymore anytime soon.

Finally, we read Colm Toibin's 'The Testament of Mary' as part of our short story group. This novella takes the story of Jesus' life from the viewpoint of his mother. It is beautifully written and did make me think, however I was a bit uncomfortable with the premise that much of what happened actually didn't and nowhere did Mary talk about his birth. So I can see why the Catholic Church didn't enjoy it! I thought the parts that dealt with Lazurus returning from the dead were interesting but in the end I could not separate what I believe from believing Toibin's version. 


  1. Agree with you on The Hive, I was underwhelmed by it. Wasn't too struck with the new Bridget Jones either. Ah well, lots of new fiction wil be published in September!

    1. Yes, they were 'ok' holiday reads but I can't even remember much about them now!