Thomas Major is a grumpy, forty something year old man who volunteers for a one way trip to Mars. His life has been unhappy and confusing, and he is keen to turn his back on earth and its people. By strange co-incidence, he is in contact with a family who will challenge his views of the world, and himself. Full of quirky characters, crazy antics, high drama, and heart-warming triumphs, this is a fun and uplifting read. For fans of A Man Called Ove.
This contains the final two books in the Patrick Melrose series – Mother’s Milk and At Last.
Mother’s Milk: After his breakthrough at the end of Never Mind, Patrick, now married with two sons, is struggling again; with inheritance, his marriage, his mother and parenthood. So sharp, delicious, painful, real, and delightful.
At Last: The final Patrick Melrose novel, and how I will miss him. Patrick is as bitingly clever as ever, and still working on gaining some equilibrium. The gathering at his mother’s funeral highlights the foibles of the upper class, the passions and fixations that hold people back, the complexities of living with past trauma, and the sparks of hope that keep us going.
This entire series is deeply insightful, witty, horrific, and brilliant.
Lisa 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.
I 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.
A heartbreaking family story. One sister wants a family she can’t have and another has a family she doesn’t want. The story is set in mid 20th century Tasmania and gives a glimpse into life at that time and the life choices women made. An enjoyable, but at times sad, 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.
An Australian story with the small rural town of Tewinga at its heart. There is a lot to like here – family, community life, mystery and drama. The storyline was a little bit predictable, but it was a great story to pass time with on a long train journey.
You never know what goes on in a small country town!
You know what you are going to get with a Kate Morton novel; a lush, English setting, and an historical mystery solved in the modern day. This time the setting is a beautiful house in Cornwall, with lush gardens, and there are two mysteries to be solved. The resolution is perhaps neater than it needs to be, but it was in keeping with the book – quirky characters, twists and turns, happy ending.
Philip is eleven, and his father has just died in a car accident. His father’s ghost appears to him, and asks him to do something momentous so that he can be at peace. It’s a retelling of Hamlet, and as I am reasonably unfamiliar with the story of Hamlet (!), I found it very suspenseful. It is also funny and endearing. I really enjoyed it.