As promised ages ago in my rant about libraries, here is a quick round up of some of the gems I got my hands on from my local library. I’d love to know if anyone has read any of these books and what you thought of them.
I had been putting off reading this as I’d loved To Kill a Mockingbird and didn’t want anything to sully my love for Ms Lee’s writing. If she had wanted this published, why had it taken so long for this manuscript to be released to the public? This novel isn’t as good as To Kill a Mockingbird but it’s worth reading if you are already a fan. Some passages are beautifully written and a joy to read, while others feel a little muddled and I caught myself having to re-read several sections to make sure that I had understood the story. The anger and outrage felt by the now adult Scout jumps off the page (upon returning to her home town from New York she find that race relations have reached a new low), but it’s frustrating that she is clearly not as colour blind as she thinks she is. I’m glad I read this book, but I don’t think I’d recommend it particularly.
I’d never read anything by Andrew O’Hagan before, but I’d heard good things so decided to pick this novel off the library shelf. To be honest, I was a little disappointed. The writing was beautifully descriptive, but I just couldn’t get into it and almost gave up. The story is about Anne Quirk, an elderly lady who was a successful and innovative photographer in her youth, who now suffers from dementia and lives in an old people’s home. But there is something mysterious in her past, which her grandson (Luke), a captain in the army who has served in Afghanistan, seeks to uncover. The book jumps between the narratives of the two characters before they embark on a trip to Blackpool, where Luke eventually works out the secret of Anne’s past. It was only in this last section of the book that I really started to enjoy O’Hagan’s writing as I felt that story meandered too much early on, and it felt like not much really happened. However, the relationship between Anne and her grandson, which centred a lot on the theme of memory and loss, was extremely touching and made this worthwhile reading.
This book is fantastic. I was hooked as soon as I started reading one morning on my way to work and I finished it within the week. Jessie Burton’s writing has a way of drawing you in so you just want to keep turning pages to find out what happens. I’m not sure if this is a word, but it’s un-put-downable. I won’t give any spoilers here, but the basic premise is that there are two intertwining stories and you will spend most of your time desperately seeing out little links as to how they relate to each other. The first narrative is set in 1967 and follows Odelle, a young woman as she starts working at an art gallery and meets a young man who owns a painting with a mysterious past. The second story is set 30 years earlier in rural Spain, and follows the story of Olive, a young woman who possesses a raw artistic talent, and falls in love with a local man who works for her family. As the origins of the painting gradually become clear, the mystery of how it made its way to a London gallery in the 60s is what keeps you reading. Just as you think that you have worked it all out, Burton will throw in something that will keep you guessing, and although the theme of hidden identity may sound a little trite, you will want to keep turning the pages. Yes, I know it sounds like a typical ‘book club’ book, but trust me on this one.