An American marriage by Tayari Jones

amy-an-american-marriage.jpgRoy and Celestial were married for a little over a year when Roy was falsely accused of rape, and sent to prison for twelve years. We follow the story alternating between narrators, and through the letters written while Roy is in prison. When he is let out early, they need to work out what their life can be. It’s about marriage in modern times, class, racism, love, independence, and strength. It’s a difficult story, but the ending is gently hopeful, and I found it captivating.

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On beauty by Zadie Smith

amy-on-beauty.jpgAll the way up to five stars for the Howards End connection. This is an intricate book about the complicated and messy people in two families. People who are struggling to find where they belong, what true love is, and who they really are. It is emotional, political, thought provoking, and I loved it.

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The bookshop of the broken hearted by Robert Hillman

Amy bookshop of the broken heartedIn 1960s rural Australia, kind and gentle farmer, Tom, wife has left him again, this time taking the young boy Tom raised, though the child wasn’t his. A glamorous older woman moves into town, a survivor of Auschwitz, determined to open a bookshop. Tom and Hannah find love, but making a new life is complicated. There is sweetness and humour here, and a lovely setting; I think it would make a popular movie. For me, there wasn’t enough character development, the villains were unconvincing (not the Nazis!) and I just wasn’t captured by this story.

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The painted veil by W. Somerset Maugham

Painted veil - Amy

What a shallow, cold and frivolous woman Kitty Fane is! Her journey, momentous and painful, teaching her so much and yet changing her so little, is utterly compelling. The film, which I loved, is a love story but the book is not. Walter Fane falls in love with Kitty though they have nothing on common and she marries him to escape her mother’s cruel disappointment. In Hong Kong Kitty falls for a charming, married man and they have an affair. Walter takes his revenge by taking Kitty to a Chinese city in the grip of a cholera epidemic. In that terrible, beautiful place she begins to long for peace. I loved this book and read it on my own and with book club.

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What Alice forgot by Liane Moriarty

Amy What Alice ForgotI borrowed the audio book to listen to on a long car trip, and the narrator did a great job. Alice wakes up after an accident at the gym, thinking she is 29, pregnant and happily in love with her husband, but discovers that she is, in fact, ten years older and much has changed in her life. The slow reveal of what has happened over the last ten years is peopled with eccentric, sometimes stereotypical characters and is set on Sydney’s North Shore. Very Australian, slightly predictable, a touch overwrought, this book pleasantly passed the time on a long drive.

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Fates and Furies

Amy Fates and Furies

Fates and Furies is quite a tour de force. It is about the marriage of a glamorous young couple; bright, magnetic, not entirely likeable. The chasm between how things seem, and how they really are is so cleverly and compellingly explored that I raced through this book. Literature, art, power, darkness and love, a heady mixture, a great read.

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