Thursday, 1 February 2018

September Reviews

Looks like it is time to catch up on my book reviews doesn't it! *Shame Face* In my defense, I have started a new job, which brings me to a much happier place in my head. However, it has taken some of my time for blogging away because I am actually working during work hours and not writing.

Still I am determined to catch up. :) Here are September's reads

The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins
Doubleday Jan 2015 paperback
Charity Shop

I had held off reading and seeing the film, for a few years because of the inevitable Gone Girl tie ins that I heard along with it. "If you liked Gone Girl you'll like this" and it's not that I didn't like Gone Girl, I think I am a stubborn when it comes to that kind of marketing, even from friends.
But when we added this to the pile in a 3 for 2 offer in a charity shop, one book for me, one for my friend and one we both hadn't read, I found my self getting first dibs on reading it.
I enjoyed the writing style immensely. It is lovely to read, and the voice of the narrator is appealing and off putting at the same time. The way the character describes the way she looks is really interesting because she really hates herself in a lot of ways, not just her appearance. The unreliable narrator is really well handled.
In terms of narrative, it just about makes it on to the plausibility spectrum, which keeps you guessing because you have no idea what might happen next. I didn't see several of the twists coming. Lost a point purely because it got a little muddled towards the climax and it lost focus a few times, maybe that was intentional.

Blackberry Wine
Joanna Harris
Black Swan 2000 paperback

Although I've read Blackberry Wine about 3 times before, I still cannot remember where I got this book. It was on my dorm room shelf at school and my mantle piece at Uni, my window sill at home and now in my bookcase. I never quite feel at home unless I have it, my interior design of any bedroom would be incomplete without it. The book itself holds nostalgia for me, the cover is bleached by the sun, the pages are too but only on two sides.
The feeling of a book like this in your life is unique and the thing I like the most about it is that the same nostalgic and warm fuzzy sensation I have from the book itself is the same thing I get from reading it. Joanne Harris, famous for her brilliant novels, largely set in France, is the Queen of the warm fuzzy.
The plot cannot by summarised, it's about a young boy and his relationship with a old allotmenter who introduces him to the world of gardening. And then it's about the boy grown up and struggling as a writer. No, further, it is about a small village in France. No wait it's about a mysterious neighbor family with an unusual tale. It is the puff pastry of narratives, so many layers woven together with buttery magic. An absolute delight.

The Red Tent
Anita Diamant
St Martin's Press 1997 paperback

Billed as the greatest love story ever told, the female love between wives and daughters of Jacob, I wasn't sure that it could live up to that statement. I liked the idea of the untold stories behind Jacob and his 12 sons, the mothers and sisters who raised them. Particularly, as I know the bible story well. I also have an interest in midwifery, which is a huge theme in the book.
We read this as a book club book, and I did enjoy it. It's not a difficult read and it's quite a good story. I know it is set in a different time...and partly reading it should be to highlight the position of women in historical and religious societies. However, I could not get over the slightly tedious toil of reading endless information about cooking, and births and babies and weaving and convincing men to make better decisions.
There was something of the superficial in the telling. I think the whole point was to celebrate marginalised characters, but instead the bulk of the book was evidence that there is a reason they were marginalised. The voice was absolutely spot on because those WERE the concerns of women at the time, but it seemed two dimensional and almost lacking in feeling which I do not think was the point. It is well and beautifully written, but it is not a favourite of mine.