Some hope by Edward St Aubyn

Amy Some HopeSome years after his father’s death, Patrick is clear of his all consuming drug habit, but is yet to replace it. On the cusp of something unknown, Patrick attends a party at a country house. As funny and clever as the first two books, Some Hope isn’t as dark, and it had a Dickens reference that made me clap. A deeply insightful, and even tender, look at class, purpose, the compelling absurdity of the rich, and the nature of forgiveness.

 

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Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Amy TranscriptionI was always going to love this; WWII, espionage and Kate Atkinson are all right up my alley, and I wasn’t disappointed. Juliet Armstrong is 18 when she is recruited into MI5, and a job that is mundane and frightening at the same time. Juliet’s war, like that of so many others, was complicated, and ten years later people from her past turn up in her life and she must confront the past. The characters are compelling, the story is clever, funny, deeply insightful and surprising.

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Ali Every note playedLisa Genova Is the writer of Still Alice, the heartbreaking story about dementia which was made into a successful movie which I’m sure many have seen. In Every Note Played, she tackles Motor Neuron Disease or ALS. Richard is a successful classical pianist who has divorced his wife of many years and lives for his music in a cool apartment with his Steinway piano. He is a selfish man, music is his life and his divorce and estrangement from his daughter Grace is due to putting his career above his family. The cost of this estrangement becomes apparent when he is diagnosed with ALS. Who is going to support him through this horrible illness and his emotional journey as he is quickly robbed of the ability to do the thing that he loves? Richard finds his new girlfriends are not there for him and it is left to his ex-wife Karina to step into the role of carer after hearing the news from friends. Karina was also a very talented pianist who gave up her dream to have their daughter Grace and support Richard in his career. Her dissatisfaction and Richard’s infidelities left Karina very angry. The fact that she steps into this role gives us one of the main topics of this story; forgiveness. Lisa Genova also uses her neurological background and research to illustrate how ALS progresses and the devastating effects it has on the person with the disease as well as family and friends.
I’m not usually a fan of this kind of fiction but it isn’t a sentimental story, it is quite practical in the the way it is told and there are unresolved issues till the end.

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Lawyer for the dog by Lee Robinson

pam-halliburton.jpgFor a quirkily funny read about human nature, you must read “Lawyer for the Dog” by Lee Robinson.
Set in the wealthy area of South Carolina, this highly improbable, yet highly plausible novel is a must for those who wish to escape into the realms of fiction.
Attorney Sally Baynard is the protagonist and of course she finds love. But with whom?
And, as she is a lawyer, you can imagine there are problems with divisions of assets. Will the pet dog, a miniature schnauzer called Sherman (yes, as in the tank!) be torn in half?
This is a thoroughly good light hearted read, and is a must for those who always like to see the good in others.

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The silence of the girls by Pat Barker

amy-silence-of-the-girls.jpgPat Barker has written some of my favourite WWI and WWII fiction, so I know her to be a brilliant teller of war stories. The Silence of the Girls is a retelling of The Iliad, and while it is a story of the Trojan War, it focuses on the plight of the women. The detail is graphic and harsh, there is much rape and violence, but it is also a moving tale of strength and hope, particularly that of women.

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No more boats by Felicity Castagna

Amy No More BoatsSet during 2001, when the Tampa lay off Australia’s shores and the government refused to let the refugees come to Australia, No More Boats is the story of a man, once a migrant himself, whose life is turned upside down, and he loses his way. The ghost of a friend tells him to paint ‘No More Boats’ in his front yard, and he and his family must come to terms with what is happening to him, to themselves and to Australia. It is a quiet and thoughtful novel, with little action or resolution, but which highlights the complex issues at the heart of families, Australian society, and the cold, hard policies about our borders.

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The jade lily by Kirsty Manning

cynthia-the-jade-lily-e1542597698228.jpgA great historical novel based on the resettlement of Jewish refugees to Shanghai during World War II. I was amazed at how the human spirit can still shine in the most horrendous of situations. The descriptions of life in Shanghai were rich, with food featuring. The modern part of the dual storyline had a few unbelievable coincidences, but I could forgive the author as they made the story flow. I enjoyed the story, particularly learning about this unknown (to me) part of history.

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In the woods by Tana French

Amy in the woodsWhen he was twelve, Adam Ryan went into the local wood with his friends, and something most terrible happened. His friends were never seen again, and Adam couldn’t remember a thing. Years later, Adam is called Rob and he is on the Dublin Murder Squad when a girl is found murdered in the same wood. I really enjoyed this story about two crimes, of course, but also about friendship, childhood and the mess we can make of relationships. It has a delightful Irishness to it, and the ending isn’t too neat.

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Never mind by Edward St Aubyn

Amy Never MindI revelled in the language, even if what it described was rarely lovely. Never Mind is one day in the life of the Melrose family and two sets of their friends. David Melrose is an extraordinarily cruel husband and father, Eleanor, a drunk to escape her reality, and five year old Patrick is trying to navigate his confusing world. It’s a deliciously nasty slice of British wealth, and snobbery, with some foreign viewpoints to critique this world of loathing. A fascinating visit; I wouldn’t want to live there.

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