Guylain Vignolles lives alone, apart from his goldfish, and hates his job. Each day he gets pleasure from reading aloud, on the train, from pages of books he has rescued. One day he discovers entries from a young woman’s diary, and goes on a quest for love. Set in Paris, with a host of quirky characters, I expected this to be an awful lot sweeter and more heartwarming than I found it. It was rather more coarse, and didn’t deliver on the promises I thought the plot had made, especially about the power of books. It was a quick, and pleasant read, but disappointingly unaffecting.
This is not a sweeping historical romance, but that is OK. This is a great story about the early pearling industry in north WA, the tough lifestyle, the racism and discrimination and the characters you find there.
For lovers of language, not action, this book is about life and those who live it; it’s a river flowing through the mundane, the every day, picking up the thoughts, motivations, loves, losses and every little foible of those it carries along. It is beautiful, lush, stark, funny, uncomfortable, and tenderly beautiful.
Tom is not an ordinary person, he has a condition that makes him age very, very slowly. Through Tom Matt Haig explores what time and memory means to us humans. We are always thinking of the past or the future. Perhaps we should allow ourselves time to live in the moment, open ourselves up, and be willing to love — Cynthia
Imagine once you hit puberty, your ageing slowed, so that when you were over 400 years old, you looked around 40. How would you live, how would your memory work, what would be important to you? This is the situation for Tom Hazard, who has struggled for centuries to live with his past, and keep his secrets; knowing he mustn’t make connections, but keep moving on. Now, he questions the meaning of life, and what makes it worthwhile. It’s an imaginative story, full of historical detail, deep questions and sweet relationships — Amy
Sunset Song was voted the best Scottish book, so I felt compelled to read it. It is set in a small, rural Scottish community, full of eccentric characters, and a landscape both harsh and beautiful. Beginning not long before WWI, it tells of an ancient place in a time of great change, and we follow young Chris Guthrie as she grows with her family, suffers loss, falls in love and changes with the world. There were so many Scottish words I had to guess the meaning of, but the strange beauty of the land, the pull it had on its people, the quirky, funny, sweet and dark characters, and Chris’ strength through her trials and joys were clear, heartwarming and moving.
I read Paula Byrne’s biography earlier this year, one concentrated mainly on his friendships and influences for Brideshead Revisited, and enjoyed it so much I was keen for more of Evelyn Waugh’s extraordinary life. Eade takes the more traditional, birth to death approach, and comprehensively presents Waugh’s life in all its complexity. Like Byrne, he shows that snobbery was not Waugh’s defining trait, though his rudeness, arrogance and cruelty are more obvious in this book, but he also emphasises his humour and extraordinary writing. This is a fascinating look at the man, but also at the time in which he lived and his literary legacy.
Three women, each approaching a different ‘0 birthday, experience a year of change. Even though the characters were cliched I found a bit of myself in each of the characters. Each was able to confront their past and embrace what happened to them – they will be celebrating their birthdays together for many more years to come.
This is such a fun book. Not only because it features a bare-chested, young man in a kilt (enough with the Scottish stuff you say), but because it teaches you some good yoga poses in a very light hearted manner.
Finlay Wilson took up yoga to rebuild his strength after a serious accident. His story is at the beginning of the book and explains a little of his journey.
He went on to become a yoga teacher and from there made the Kilted Yoga video which has gone viral. In this book Finlay introduces you to the fundamentals of yoga through four progressive sequences to help you develop your practice. It is easy to follow and the beautiful Scottish scenery is an added bonus although one should be very wary of ticks if practicing yoga in the heather, in a kilt!
The intrigue and mystery gradually builds throughout the story. Spies and double agents abound in this dual storyline. The modern thread of the story, however, falls a bit flat for me.
Sing, Unburied, Sing is a very moving story about Mississippi’s haunting past. Jojo is thirteeen; he and his baby sister live with their grandparents, who try to provide what his mother Leonie, can’t manage to. When Leonie takes them to pick up their father from prison, the journey is full of danger, ghosts and hope. It’s about families, belief, the legacy of violence and the hope of release, and I found it sad, raw, mystical, lyrical, dark and beautiful.