Patrick Melrose is now 22, and on his way to New York to pick up His father’s ashes. We spend two days with him there, as he bombards his body with a frightening amount of drugs, and wrestles with himself, his acquaintances, and the world. It’s black, funny, and so very clever. You will need a strong stomach….
Life lessons from the master Houdini makes for an interestng read. Terry has lost his way and after meeting Hal is introduced to the life of Houdini, focusing on his time spent in Australia. The author’s fasciniation with Houdini is very evident. The premise of the story was good but the emotions of the characters were flat, making it just an OK read.
This is chick lit with an educational purpose. A single mother, Jess, and her ten year old son travel to France to spend time with his father. Jess and Adam split up ten years ago, but her mother, who is ill, is keen for her grandson to connect with his father. Her mother’s illness weighs heavily on Jess, and this trip is significant for a number of reasons. The French countryside is lovely, the characters attractive and the interactions pleasantly predictable. The education is related to a particular disease, but the moral is not unusual for this sort of book; live life to the full. I must have seen this highly recommended somewhere, to have put it on my list, and it certainly wasn’t horrid, but I need a bit more to be really moved by a book. For fans of Me Before You, which doesn’t mean that someone dies!
In post-war London, two teenagers, Nathaniel and Rachel, are left in the care of an odd, possibly criminal man, and his assorted friends. It is a confusing time, and years later Nathaniel looks back and tries to make sense of it. It’s an evocative story about intelligence work during WWII, the perspective of young people, parenthood, and memory.
Three and a half stars for Hold, a story about Belinda, a Ghanaian teenager who, having adjusted from village life to that of a housegirl, makes another move, to London. In London, she lives with a Ghanaian couple, and their daughter, Amma, who is struggling, and her parents hope Belinda can get her back on track. It is a quiet coming of age story, dealing with culture, duty, shame, belonging and growing into a sense of self. My favourite character was the younger Mary, left behind in Ghana; spirited and funny. The pace of this novel is slow, and it didn’t move me quite as much as I feel it could have.
Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion Cooking is a handy book when you have an excess of produce from the garden! If you still have some pumpkins left, this is a great spring recipe. Very tasty it was too! It’s so easy to Google recipes these days but it is nice to sit and drool over a lovely recipe book which this is. This is the perfect book for using up the excess seasonal produce.
Historical novel based in the 20s and the beginning of the BBC. It is roughly based around the real life Hilda Maheson and made for an interesting story. Feminism, spies, Nazism, society’s expections, broadcasting are all covered. Unfortunately the style of writing did not work for me, which let the story down, but it was great subject matter.
This is just the thing to read when you have been traipsing around English villages. It’s a sweet love story about an older widow, and a woman of Pakistani descent. It’s gently amusing, pleasantly predictable, and twee, in a good way.
I very much enjoyed Any Human Heart, so was keen to read this, though I don’t usually seek out short stories. The stories are varied, fascinating, frustrating, and satisfyingly unsatisfying! Each story seems to lay bare our foibles as the characters thrash about, trying to make their paths smooth.
David Bowie was so many things. That’s obvious from the most basic understanding of his career. He was also, as we all are, different things to different people, and I suppose that is the strength of this book, that it is a collection of stories or recollections about Bowie at different tones in his life, from a huge range of people. It’s a weakness, too, though, in that it can be, as you would expect, contradictory, and sometimes repetitive. Reading about the early years was a slog, because while I loved the music, his lifestyle was pretty repugnant. I am glad I stuck it out, His was certainly a fascinating life with a massive impact on so many, but I didn’t find it an easy, or even greatly enjoyable, read.