Book Count (since 1 January 2012)

Book Count (since 1 January 2014): 30

Sunday, 30 May 2010

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for fiction 2010.

A newly wed couple arrive in Trinidad from the UK intending to stay for 3 years whilst the husband works with a shiping company. The husband falls in love with the island and despite the wife's unhappiness the couple stay and raise two children on the island. The novel spans the family's life in Trinidad and charts their involvement with riots and revolution as the black Trinidadians revolt against white colonialism.

I didn't really like this book because the characters are not very realistic. The wife is so depressed and hates her husband so much that it is impossible to believe that she would realistically stay in Trinidad. Neither of the two main characters are developed enough so it is hard to get emotionally involved in the story.

There's a fairly interesting history of Trinidadian politics but other than that a pretty average read.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

This book was shortlisted for the 2010 Orange Prize and I wanted to read it because I really enjoyed The Poisonwood Bible. The Lacuna is a similar style but not as good as The Poisonwood Bible, and it is hard to describe why.

The novel follows a half Mexican half American novelist whose early life is spent cooking for the famous Rivera painters and for communist revolutionaries, including Trotsky. The novelist then settles in small town American and begins to write novels about Mexican history. This is a very interesting book and the main character is very likeable, although he remains a bit distant. The last 100 pages of this book are excellent and very thought provoking, commenting on Western prejudices and stereotypes in a way which is not as obvious or superior as is sometimes the case in novels. I think what lets this book down is the 100 - 200 pages in the middle, which get a bit lost and slow down the pace of what is otherwise a very good book.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Love and Summer by William Trevor

Pretty dull. I bought this book because it was recommended on Amazon but it was disappointing. The novel is about a young orpan who is married off by her convent to an older man whose first wife died in a tragic accident. That is about all that happens. It is not a very interesting or entertaining book. In fact it is so boring that I can't actually think of anything more to say about it. It is quite short which helps.

The Way Things Look To Me by Roopa Farooki

I read this book in 3 days which is always a good sign. I also randomly met the author's mother on the tube which has got to be a sign of some sort.

The novel focuses on a family of three children, whose parents have both died. The oldest child, a boy in his mid-20s, is charged with the sole responsibility for his aspergis youngest sister as the middle sister moves out and advocates this task. The book is very well written and very believable. The narrative moves from each child very smoothly which makes the book very easy to read.

I really enjoyed this book and whilst it is not as thought-provoking as others I have read so far it is still worth a read.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

The novel follows a young Irish girl who emigrates to America leaving behind her family. She creates a life in Brooklyn working at a department store and going to dances at the local Catholic Church. She meets an Italian American who is besotted with her and she marries him in secret. Bad news back in Ireland means she has to travel home and comes to regret her secret marriage.

This book is quite entertaining but nothing special, principally because the narrative is not very gripping and the plot is fairly thin. I bought the book because we were travelling to New York but there is not much history or local context to the novel, much of which is set in Ireland.

If you only read one book this year, don't read this one. But if you are planning on reading 52, this probably makes the list.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Small War by Sadie Jones

Light, easy read. Not as good as her first book (The Outcast).

The story follows an Army officer's family stationed in Cyprus in the 1950s. It is an interesting book from the point of view of the history of that conflict. The writing is pretty average and there is nothing outstanding or memorable about this book. It just about holds your interest at the time but doesn't grab you.

Might be worth taking on holiday for a beach read but nothing particularly to recommend it.

Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant

I thought this was an excellent book. It is a bit unusual and takes a bit of time to get into. It is also a book which requires a bit of concentration to read.

It is about a girl who grew up in Canada with her father and uncle and who returns when her father dies in an accident. The narrative is told mainly by the girl (Audrey) and is a combination of a stream of conciousness and dialogue, which suprisingly works really well.

It is very difficult to describe this book but I would definitely recommend it. The writing is very clever without being too intellectual or pretentious. The characters are very realistic as well as being likeable. Worth reading.

The Still Point by Amy Sackville


Don't bother reading this book. It is very boring whilst at the same time managing to be increadibly irritating. The writing is much too poetic and takes about 50 pages to say something along the lines of "Simon felt a bit depressed on his way to the office".

There is no discernable story-line and I would struggle to tell you what happened. Basically, an explorer tried to make it to the North Pole in the early 1900s and failed. The book is about his neice but honestly nothing at all happens. The most exciting bit is when the neice's husband thinks about having an affair. But then he doesn't.


Wedlock - How Georgian Britain's Worst Husband Met His Match by Wendy Moore

This is non-fiction about the Queen's great-great-great Grandmother, Mary Bowes. Mary's father was an indulgent father who doted on his only child and educated her very well for a female in Georgian Britain. Mary is headstrong and is very interested in languages and botany. Mary's father is a rich gentleman and leaves his fortune to Mary on the condition that any husband of Mary's must retain the Bowes surname. Mary marries a gentleman whose surname is Lyons, and who then changes his name as a result of Bowes' will to "Bowes-Lyon", hence the current royal surname.

The main thread of the narrative follows Mary's life after her first husband dies, when she marries again. Her second husband is a violent bully who terrorises Mary. As a woman in Georgian Britain, Mary has few rights and the narrative follows how eventually Mary is able to obtain a divorce.

It is a very interesting historical book made accessible by the good writing. Worth reading if you have not studied this era. I imagine it could be a bit patronising if you have any knowledge of this area of history. In places it is a bit dull.

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson

The third and last book in the Millennium series. Not as good as the first one as the story is more confused and unnecessarily violent. One of the main reasons why I enjoyed the first book was because I thought Lisbeth Salandar was such an oddly attractive character. This book does not involve enough of a focus on Lisbeth and loses its way. It is still fairly entertaining and probably worth reading if you enjoyed the other books. But don't expect this to be particularly life changing or worth remembering. Someone told me that the author died before this book was edited and whether or not that is true, this is certainly the less welll written of the trilogy.