Saturday, 31 May 2014

The best of May's reading

Once again joining with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees and her year of books posts, here are my books for May.

Several years ago, knitting groups and knitting in general featured in many books both fictional and factual... those of Kate Jacobs (novels) and Stephanie Pearl McPhee (nonfiction) are amongst my favourites, but this one by Ann Hood was also worth a second read. 'The Knitting Circle' ... well, the title says it all really. It's about a group of women who gather each week at Alice's wool shop to sit and knit. And talk. Different women from different backgrounds... Mary who is grieving for her dead child, Scarlet who's outgoing and glamorous, Lulu who sculpts for a living, Beth who is what today would be called a 'yummy mummy' with her seemingly perfect life, and Ellen who takes everything to heart. The group helps them all, and this is a lovely story of  how women who might otherwise not know each other or get along, come together and form firm friendships through their love of knitting. Anyone who's a knitter will love it.

Sometimes you buy a book because you are drawn to the cover, or the blurb,  or the first page grabs you. In this case it was all three...

Isn't this a gorgeous cover? A misty image of the Eiffel Tower, red and yellow tulips in the foreground. The blurb tells us this is a story of 'food, friendship and falling in love from afar'... now doesn't that make you want to read more? It did me, and I wasn't disappointed. This is the tale of Eve who writes to a famous author in America, Jackson Cooper, to praise him on a particular scene in one of his novels. He replies, and they discover a mutual love of food, and so begins a correspondence. Over time they realise this correspondence is perhaps more than just emails and letters between casual friends, that there may be a chance to start again with their lives. The final chapter, the very last line, will have you sighing with pleasure! If you get chance, 'That Part was True' by Deborah McKinlay is definitely worth the reading.

'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' by Deborah Moggach is the book of the film. I loved the film, it had my favourite actors in it and was so funny and touching, and hopeful for those of us in later years shall we say? The book too, is worth a read.

'Lifesaving for Beginners' by Ciara Geraghty, is the story of Kat, who never looks back, who lives for now in her unremarkable life filled with lots of friends and Milo a small boy who likewise goes through his life, enjoying his lifesaving classes after school and peanut butter and banana muffins. And with one of those strange twists in life, somehow the two become known to each other, this little boy in Brighton and the woman in Dublin, and secrets are revealed. Great story, loved it. And is it just me, but if you know the character is Irish, do you read in your head, in an Irish accent? Please say it's not just  me...

Ann Patchett is perhaps better known for her novels to us here in Britain, than her writings that appeared in Vogue and other American publications. This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage is a collection of some of these, a memoir telling of her childhood, the excitement at selling her first book, her adventures and her happy marriage, and is well worth a read.

So there you have my best reads for last month. Looking forward to reading about yours, and thanks for dropping by.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The year in Books, April

Joining in with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees once again... such a great idea, so many recommendations, new authors to try. Anyway, this is my reading for April.

'Londoners' by Craig Taylor is a collection of interviews with Londoners, with people who love it, hate it, been there and done that and so on. One of those books with an interesting cover which I'd have probably bought to add to our collection of London-related books, had I seen it in a shop. As it is, I found it on one of the fellow-readers posts, and it didn't disappoint. A book you can dip in and out of as and when you feel like it, well worth buying.

'Five Days' by Douglas Kennedy who is one of my favourite authors. As the title suggests, the story is set over five days, and is about Laura, for twenty years a good wife and mother, who decides its time to do something  for her. So when a chance to go away for a weekend, to a conference related to her work as a radiologist, she takes it... and a chance meeting with a stranger is to change the course of the weekend, and give  her a taste of what life could be like.

'Lost in the Forest' by Sue Miller another favourite American author. This was first published here almost twenty years ago, but it doesn't feel dated in any way. John, the mainstay of his family, idolised by his wife and children, is killed in a car accident and the family, especially the children and especially the middle child Daisy, all struggle to come to terms with a life without him. Daisy is at that age when her sexuality is beginning to blossom, she is vulnerable, and into her life comes a man, a predator who will take advantage. This is a story of a family torn apart in many ways by tragedy, but then finding itself drawing close again.

'Choose Me' by Kay Langdale is the story of Billy, up for adoption, hoping to find his 'forever family'; a story of the ups and downs of fostering and adoption, of hopes and dreams by both the child and those who adopt. Beautifully written, one of those books that is a keeper for me, to re-read another time.

'How Many Camels Are There in Holland?' by Phyllida Law is her second book dealing with dementia. The first was all about her mother-in-law, this is about her own mother. At times sad, at times very funny so you can't help but laugh out loud, it gives an insight into what it's like living with this condition, but also gives you hope, in some way, that it's not all bad, that there are still times to laugh as well as cry.

'The Pure of Heart' by Susan Hill, another of her Simon Serrailler detective novels which I discovered a year ago and have now collected. Set in the usual cathedral town of Lafferton, a small boy is abducted whilst waiting to be picked up and taken to school. There are other threads in the story, Serraillers handicapped younger sister is hospitalised and close to death, more than once... a young ex-con wants to go straight, intends to but is too easily led astray... and there are the usual tales of his family life, his pregnant sister and her family, who represent a home from home for him when he needs respite from his job, the relationship between his parents. All add up to another great read.

'Bring Me Home' by Alan Titchmarsh and I have to admit this was not as good as his others, all of which I have. I read it, enjoyed it, but not as much as I would have hoped. To paraphrase the blurb,  Charlie Stuart stands at the door of his castle in Scotland, welcoming his guests to the annual summer drinks party. On the surface all is happy and relaxed, but he knows that it's all a front, that underneath things aren't that rosy, and he knows too that in a few hours this afternoon will end and the past with all its ghosts, will catch up with him. I found it dragged at times, and wanted the story to move on a bit quicker. But that's just my opinion of course. It was still worth the read.

So there you have it, hope you find something of interest and I shall look forward to reading all the other posts as they come up on Laura's blog.