Book Count (since 1 January 2012)

Book Count (since 1 January 2014): 30

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Meeting The English by Kate Clanchy

When Philip Prys suffers a stroke his first wife, Myfanwy, hires a Scottish school leaver, Struan, to care for him in a bid to prevent his second wife, Shirin, from dissipating the family funds.  The book then follows Struan's attempt to fulfil his job description despite an increasingly dysfunctional family life involving both wives and Philip and Myfanwy's two children. The characters in this book are very well observed, particularly Struan and Julia, the youngest of the two children, although Myfanwy is perhaps slightly overdone as the uncaring first wife.  The writing is excellent, with lots of wonderful descriptions of London and the Heath, which makes this book very easy to read and enjoy.  I would recommend this novel.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

An unusual but very entertaining novel about a concierge in an upmarket apartment block who hides her intelligence and cultural tastes from her employers for fear of breaching social etiquette.  There is lots to enjoy about the writing in this novel, which is humorous and often very powerful without being overbearingly literary.  The characters are depicted very well and are easy to like which really draws you in to the social atmosphere the book creates.  Intelligent and often moving, this is one of those books which is enjoyable as a read but which also has a real substance to it. 

Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

A novel about a young anatomy student, Patrick, who has Asperger's Syndrome and struggles to fit in with his fellow classmates causing much anguish to his mother.  The plot in this book is very compelling and definitely keeps you interested but I think the way Patrick's character is portrayed lacks the depth of books like The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night or The Rosie Project.  I enjoyed this book and it is an exciting read but there are better books at tackling the subject of this disease.

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

An average book about the run up to a traditional American wedding and the strains this puts on family relationships.  Very easy reading.  Not very memorable.

Unfaithfully Yours by Nigel Williams

This book is written exclusively in the form of letters between six people – five old friends who have lost touch and a private investigator.  Setting out the book like this means it is sometimes artificial as plot turns have to be crowbarred into a letter in a way which does not read very naturally.  This is not helped by the fact that the plot itself is unrealistic.  I appreciate this is intended to be a black suburban comedy rather than a real life story but it is still a little incredible.  And it is not funny.

Marriage Material by Sathnam Sanghera

I really enjoyed this well written novel about an Indian family living in Wolverhampton.  The plot begins with a family of four who have moved over from India in the late 1960s and follows the son of one of the daughters as he grows up and moves to London.  This novel has racism and racial integration at its heart but it is not a moralistic or judgemental book.  The characters are very realistic and easy to relate to, which makes this a very compulsive read.  I enjoyed the writing which is often humorous and handles what could be difficult subjects very sensitively.  A great novel which is very easy to read but has a lot of depth.

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier

A classic story about an unhappy mother and wife who escapes to Cornwall and finds illicit love and adventure.  I read this in Cornwall which added to the atmosphere but it is a great read wherever you are.  The main character, Dona, is easy to like and this makes the plot more engrossing.  The writing is very good, with some wonderful descriptions of the Cornish coast and countryside.  Definitely worth reading.