A gritty yet touching exploration of damaged family life.
Sibling rivalry comes to a head in the most shocking of ways in A. M. Homes’ award-winning May We Be Forgiven. Following an unusual and outrageous family tragedy, 40-something Harry Silver’s world is radically changed. Normality is blown apart and absolution is sought in this unashamedly realistic portrayal of unconventional modern family life. Continue reading
Curiosity killed the
Christopher Boone is a fifteen year old with Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s a detective too, investigating a murder mystery after finding his neighbour’s dog, Wellington, with a fork stabbed through his abdomen. But that’s not the only curiosity in this novel, because as Christopher investigates the case he also uncovers some shocking secrets that result in him running away from home and taking an adventurous trip to London. The resulting story is funny and sad, but ultimately heart-warming. Continue reading
Don’t judge a book by its cover…
After seeing the eye-catching cover and reading the engaging blurb of ‘Brighton Belle’ I thought that I had found a great novel. For somebody who wouldn’t class themselves as a big fan of historical fiction, the book seemed to me to be an exciting and fast-paced take on the genre. Set in post-war Brighton in 1951, with a strong female lead and an element of detection and mystery, the book promised so much but delivered so little.
The protagonist of the story is Mirabelle Bevan, a headstrong former member of the Secret Service now working as a secretary at a debt collection agency. Her character is driven and likeable, albeit with a slightly reserved and defensive edge. I thought that it was great that the main character was a strong and empowered woman and found the characterisation to be consistent up until the final chapter, which was the final nail in the coffin for me when it came to this book. After a client requests an investigation into the debt of a Hungarian woman named Romana Laszlo, Mirabelle is dragged into an unimaginable case of prostitution, murder, and mystery. Continue reading
A haunting examination of compassion and condemnation
The Reader is a justifiably renowned and widely taught novel which, in a departure from the traditional Holocaust genre, is a delicate and philosophical rumination on the nature of right and wrong.
The story, set in Germany, spans four decades; beginning in the 1950s when the protagonist Michael Berg is a teenager and ending in the 1990s when he is middle aged. In this way, the novel is also a coming of age story as well as having a grand scope and perspective. Continue reading
Decadence, lust and decay in 1920s New York.
Considered ‘The Great American Novel’, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald transports you to a world where the people are wealthy, the parties are extravagant and the night is always young. Written in 1925 and set in the glorious Jazz age, this novel holds a weighty place in literature and is widely considered one of the best works of American fiction. Continue reading
A shocking sting of consequentiality.
Described by Commonwealth Writers Prize judge, Nicholas Hasluck, as “a controversial and daring novel”, ‘The Slap’ by Christos Tsiolkas is a clever read that challenges the perception of the human condition. After an unruly young boy is slapped at a barbecue in suburban Melbourne, the novel tells of its widespread consequences to all those who witness it. Continue reading
A big bit of loveliness.
The first novel by Dawn French, ‘A Tiny Bit Marvellous’ tells the tale of a typical, if not slightly eccentric, modern British family. The book is centred on Mo Battle, a 49-year-old mum of two who feels that there’s some excitement missing from her life, something that she wants to reclaim. As the story develops we follow her through exploration and experimentation with the person that she has become, and the woman that she ends up being. Continue reading
A gay Greek extravaganza.
The Song of Achilles is a story of love, battle and heartbreak, set during the time of the Trojan War in Ancient Greece. It follows the story of Prince Achilles and his beloved comrade Patroclus through their childhood and into a war that threatens to end their intimate companionship forever. What Madeline Miller has essentially done is taken the original myth of Achilles and elaborated on certain aspects of it to create her story. And it’s a good one… Continue reading
It’s not just about heroin.
Trainspotting. It’s just about a group of rough Scottish heroin addicts, right? Wrong! Well I mean that is part of it, but that’s definitely not all of it. I’ll admit that I bought the book mainly for the lovely Vintage Classics bright orange pages and cover, and the fact that I just wanted to say I’d read it due to its reputation and supposed greatness… Continue reading
About a year ago while caught in a link chain on Wikipedia, I came across the mention of a book. A book infamous for its length, scope and difficulty (though this last was always prefaced with the assurance that it was in fact very ‘’entertaining’’).
It was of course, the mammoth ‘Infinite Jest’ by the late, brilliant David Foster Wallace.
I was strangely hooked by the idea of a book that has been understood almost as a rite of passage for any serious fiction reader – a trial of patience, brains and commitment to a book; to the idea of the book. Continue reading