4 recent reads

How do you prefer to read?

I still love the feel of an actual book, although when travelling I tend to use my Kindle for practical reasons.

Perhaps you are part of a book club. I don’t belong to one but I do swap books with family and friends.

In our village, we have an Oxfam bookshop which I frequent both to buy and donate. We’re lucky enough to have a library which I also use on a regular basis.

The first book I’m going to talk about is written by Joanna Cannon and is her second novel ‘Three Things About Elsie’.

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I loved her first novel ‘The Trouble with Goats and Sheep’, so I was very interested to see if I would enjoy this second book as much.

The book features Florence who is eighty four years old and lives in a flat in Cherry Tree Home for the elderly. When the story begins, Florence has fallen and is lying on the floor waiting to be rescued. One of the things troubling Florence is the arrival of a new resident who looks exactly like a man she used to know. The problem is that he died sixty years ago and Florence is extremely worried this could lead to the disclosure of a terrible secret from her past.

Florence tells us “There are three things you should know about Elsie. The first thing is that she’s my best friend. The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better. And the third thing … might take a little bit more explaining.”

I loved this book, party because I enjoy the author’s writing style but also because it’s quirky, funny, poignant and original.

The next two books, I bought at the airport, on my way back to France, which is unusual for me. It might have been because I was travelling on my own and had more time to browse.

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This book was highly recommended by my sister in law who is an avid reader and has made some excellent suggestions in the past.

This novel is set in Shaker Heights, Ohio, which is a ‘perfect’ suburban community. The plot focuses on the Richardsons who are the personification of the ‘ideal’ family. They have four teenage children. Mia Warren, a struggling artist, arrives in this community, with her teenage daughter and a very different set of values. The sparks begin to fly.

The story actually begins with a raging house fire but travels back in time to follow the chain of events leading to this catastrophe. There is the element of a thriller. Who lit the fire and why?

Central to the plot is a custody battle over the adoption of a Chinese-American baby which raises questions over race and motherhood.

I must admit that it took me a while to get into this book but I’m so glad I persevered.

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This was the second book I bought at the airport, as part of a buy one-get one free offer. It’s basically a love story but with a twist. We are introduced to Robbie and Emily who have been together for years. They met in the sixties and share a deep bond. However, there is a secret they’ve been keeping… One ordinary morning Robbie wakes up, gets dressed, writes Emily a letter and leaves for good.

The book is beautifully written and goes back and forth over the decades, until we discover the whole story. A perfect holiday read!

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This book is very different to many of my choices. It was passed on to me by a friend and I’m so glad I read it.

The main character is Tom Hazard who has a dangerous secret. He may look like a 41-year-old, but he has a rare condition and he’s actually been alive for centuries. We travel, with Tom, from  Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris and from New York to the South Seas, encountering Shakespeare and Captain Cook on the way, amongst others.

There are two main problems that make life very difficult for Tom. He has to hide his condition from ‘normal’ people and he must not fall in love.

We meet Tom in the present where he has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. He can teach the kids about witches, plagues and wars as if he had seen them!

I loved this book and I didn’t want it to end!

Have you read any of these books or do you have any recommendations based on your recent reading? I’d love to know!

2 thoughts on “4 recent reads

  1. Thank you so much for these reviews. I’m an avid reader but sometimes buy &/or get a number of the ‘wrong’ books, as in they’re just not what I think they’re meant to be. So I’ll definitely try these. I’ve just finished the ‘Patrick Melrose’ series by Edward St. Aubyn, which I did enjoy, but read on as they’re not for the faint-hearted! Did you manage to catch Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role of this quite disturbing but outstanding TV series of these novels. Each book (there are 5) became one episode. If I try to encapsulate the underlying theme you might well be put off but it’s all about the impact on the main character of abuse during his childhood and the truly stupendously ghastly upbringing he had. It’s also about our class system. But. It’s perhaps the best literature I’ve read in years. It’s not all dark. Here’s one reviewer (Maggie O’Farrell) saying that the books are, “At once epic and intimate, appalling and comic, the Melrose novels are masterpieces.” Yup, that’s about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your recommendation, Penny. I will definitely have a look at this series. I think it’s good to read more challenging books and als those that are out of one’s usual comfort zone. I think my reviews were for ‘lighter’ reads! I do try to reread a classic novel every year, like Wuthering Heights. I also like Maggie O’ Farrell!

      Like

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