Recently I’ve been challenging myself to read books I’ve previously set aside after the first few pages. Hunting through the shelves beside the bed I found:
English Passengers and The Dive from Clausen’s Pier. See previous blogs.
Here are some more:
Instances of the Number 3 by Salley Vickers
In this link the author explains the meaning of the book: “His wife, Bridget, is a lover of Shakespeare and it is through her thoughts about Hamlet, and the ghost who visits him, that she comes to understand her dead husband. We learn that Peter is in purgatory, the place where in the old religion humankind were 'purged' or cleansed of their sins so that they might enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I should obviously have read this explanation first. I’m afraid most of this passed me by because I was in fast-read mode and began to skip the religious and literary references. I didn’t much like the sound of the late oversexed sixty-something Peter or his ghost, and found that I wasn’t that much drawn to his wife or his mistress either. Perhaps I didn’t find them entirely believable as characters. The mystery of the beautiful Iranian boy and his sister wasn’t difficult to solve - clues to the somewhat seedy dénouement abound. There was even a reference to The Crying Game (brilliant film, I thought). Salley Vickers is obviously an erudite woman but her style is complex - I found myself having to read some of her sentences twice.
I really prefer the crystal clear writing of someone like Helen Dunmore. Which brings me to her novel The Siege, winner of the Orange Prize. A very good book about the siege of Leningrad. So convincing that it’s hard to believe the writer wasn’t there. I liked the plucky heroine, Anna and her family, and was relieved she survived. Ultimately though, one is reading about starvation, death and destruction.
My last challenge is The Book Thief but I haven't picked it up yet, as fortunately Breathing Lessons by one of my favourite writers, Ann Tyler, has arrived from Amazon so am deep in that. More later.
(Photo of frosted ivy above was taken earlier this week. Yesterday it was relatively balmy here in Hampshire)