Arrived back from hols about 10 pm last night, after a long drive down from Gatwick. Had a fabulous time – some photos to follow, but in the meantime, here’s the low down on what I read.
This Charming Man by Marian Keyes: I never thought Marian would be able to top ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ for me (my favourite of her previous books), but with this weighty 860+ page tome, she does. As well as the humour and wonderful characters that we’ve come to expect from her, she tackles some thorny modern-day issues (domestic violence, alcoholism) in a thought-provoking and sympathetic way as well. Well worth a read.
The Resurrectionist by James Bradley: This is not the sort of book I would ever glance twice at normally, but I picked it up in Tesco a while back as part of a BOGOF deal, because I couldn’t see anything else I fancied, and it was a Richard & Judy read last summer. It is Book of the Month over at The Book It List. It’s very gothic, very spine-chilling and very gory. I thought I might like it in the same way that I anticipated hating Sweeney Todd before I went to the cinema to see it, and came away having quite enjoyed it. I won’t say any more here, as we’ll be discussing it at The Book It List very soon.
Plan B by Emily Barr: Emily was a travel writer before reinventing herself as a novelist, and this shines through in her fantastic descriptions of the locations her books are set in. This is the story of a young couple and their two year old daughter who relocate to the South of France to renovate an old house. There is more to their story than meets the eye, however, and the twists and turns of the story kept me glued to the pages of this right till the very end. A cracking read.
Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra: This is book of the month for my book club, and I was really looking forward to reading it. It’s a portrait of life in Kabul under the Taliban’s regime. I found myself quite disappointed, however, and the reasons for this are twofold. I found the writing style extremely ‘clunky’ and it didn’t flow at all. I imagine this is because it’s translated from the original French, which didn’t work for me – although I got more used to the style as I got further through the book. Secondly, to be blunt, it’s like Khaled Hosseini but not as good (sorry, I know this was written before either of his books). If you want to read about life in Afghanistan, read A Thousand Splendid Suns or The Kite Runner, don’t bother with this. Sorry, Yasmina.
Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult: A fantastic book. It’s about love and loss and marriage and parenthood and grief and despair and hope. With brilliant characters, whose flaws make you like them even more. Can’t recommend it highly enough.
Must also mention A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown, which I finished on the way up to the airport. Although the ‘misery memoir’ genre has been a bit ‘done to death’ (indeed, my local Asda has a whole section devoted to it!), this is definitely worth a read – a startling true story.