Wednesday, 3 February 2016

January's Best Books


Well here we are in the New Year, already one month gone, for me,  lost to a mild dose of 'flu, which always hits me really badly, as I am immuno-suppressed and therefore a simple cold, to anyone else, ends up as a mild dose of the 'flu with me. That's why I have the jab, to try and minimise the effects of any viruses I may come into contact with accidentally. Sadly, although time spent in bed could have given me plenty of opportunities to read more, I was just too tired and unable to concentrate for very long, so I went a whole THREE days with no reading! Unheard of for me.

So, onto the books, a mix of old and new, fiction and non-fiction.

'The Lady in the Van' by Alan Bennett came to my attention because of the ads on television for the film, and the story intrigued me. A real life story about Mrs. S, a rather eccentric lady who resides in vans, parked, eventually in AB's garden. He tells the story with his usual humour, and also compassion.

Although I write short stories and have been lucky enough to see many in print, I am not actually that much of a fan when it comes to reading them, but when I saw a new collection by one of my favourite authors, Rachel Joyce (she of Harold Fry/Queenie Hennessy fame), I couldn't resist. And it didn't disppoint, all the stories being linked in some way, definitely worth a read if you are a fan of the genre.

'Some Kind of Fairy Tale' by Graham Joyce is a strange novel about Tara, who disppears aged 16 and turns up twenty years later, still aged 16. See what I mean about strange?  She claims to have been living with fairies, who don't like being called that and are in no way cute little things with wings.

'Too Close to Home' by Susan Lewis is a story of betrayal. Paige is bullied at school and her home life changes forever when her father falls in love with a younger woman and leaves the family home. He is also found to have committed fraud. Her mother is going to pieces and life is just too hard, so Paige runs away, makes a suicide last with another girl her he who she met via the Internet, having spent lots of time on suicide sites. But the girl doesn't turn up for their meeting and Paige spends two nights alone. Eventually she is found and gradually both she and her mother accept life has changed forever. But it can, and will, get better in time.

'Solace' by Nicci Gerard actually has a similar storyline to the previous book - a husband leaves his wife and children for a younger woman who then gets pregnant. Adrian is desperate to become an actor, not always successfully. When he takes the children to Australia on holiday with his new lady, his wife Irene goes to stay in France with her half brother to help with his wedding. There she falls in with a group of his friends who are going on a narrow boat holiday and persuade her to join them. During the holiday she has a brief fling with one of the members of the group, and when she returns home it is with a renewed zest for life, a changed perspective and life suddenly seems more hopeful. This was one of my 'old' reads, a second reading before being consigned to the charity shop bag.

'My Brilliant Friend' by Elena Ferrante, the first of four novels dubbed 'The Neopolitan Novels', which are based around the friendship between Elena, the stories' narrator, and Lila. Lila is the bad girl, the popular one, Elena the scholarly girl, the good girl, the less popular. This novel begins in 1950s Naples, in a poor neighbourhood with the two little girls forming a mutually reliant friendship, and sees them through to their teenage years, with Lila marrying and Elena continuing her studies.

'No Fixed Address' by Jackie Hartnell is a travel writing book. Jackie's husband dies unexpectedly after retiring, and before they had chance to do the travelling they always said they would do, and so she decides to travel alone, and this books tells the story of her various wanderings, in the Lakes and overseas too, of living out of a backpack and staying in hostels.

'The Girl in the Red Coat' by Kate Hamer is the story of Carmel, a little girl who's a bit different, who has certain 'powers'. Beth, her single mother, worries for and about her daughter, even more so when on a rare treat of a day out together,Carmel goes missing. She is taken by a strange man claiming to be her grandfather, who takes her to America where he intends making money out of her special powers. Will mother and daughter ever be reunited... it seems impossible. The pace really quickens towards the end, but if you want to find out what happens, you'll have to read it for yourself!

And there you have my reading for the last month, a nice mix and I'm looking forward to joining in with Laura and her YIB project once again.

Thanks for visiting, do call again!