Sunday, 11 December 2011

Black Swan, Gillespie & recent reads

I found the film Black Swan too gruelling, and can't think why one newspaper suggested the dvd as an 'ideal Christmas present for mums'. A well acted psycho-drama, almost a horror movie - it's unpleasant and painful to see a perfectionist ballerina falling apart.  Fortunately I watched it alone, definitely a woman's film, imo, though here's an enthusiastic review by a man.

Much enjoyed Gillespie and I by Jane Harris, short-listed for the Galaxy Popular Fiction award etc. Again the author has chosen a Victorian narrator, this time a lively youngish spinster of independent means who befriends the family of a Glasgow painter with disastrous results. Do read it. I don't want to spoil the plot by recounting the story.  Here's a review.  I've now read both books by this Orange-shortlister and will certainly buy the next one. I particularly like the writer's dry sense of humour.

Emily Barr's The First Wife is set in Cornwall. Lily is almost unbelievably naive for a modern girl - it's easy to see why she falls head over heels for Harry.  Here's the blurb.
'Lily is adrift and penniless after the death of the grandparents who brought her up. When she finds a cleaning job, she becomes preoccupied with the glamorous couple she never sees, but whose house she looks after every week.
When tragedy strikes, she suddenly finds herself getting close to dashing widower Harry. Yet she feels that things are not quite as they seem. Lily adores Harry, but cannot plan her future with him until she finds out more about his first wife.'   A good light thriller/holiday read.

Winner of the Galaxy Award for the Best Crime/Thriller novel, the absorbing and original Before I go to Sleep by SJ Watson is scarier. Christine has lost her memory and lives with her patient husband, but doubts begin to worry her, her doctor and you, the reader.  A gripping thriller. Do read it. I understand a film is in the offing and rights have been sold all over the world. SJ Watson, who works in the NHS, turns out to be a man and he writes exceptionally well from the woman's point of view.
'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ...' Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.'

A Vision of Loveliness by Louise Levene is a snapshot of the 50s-early 60s and does indeed evoke the period so well that the very few anachronisms take one by surprise.  The main protagonist is a beautiful socially ambitious young girl on the make.  All the characters are pretty unpleasant, but amusing with it. No 'nice girls' here. A social satire with witty writing, reminds me of Muriel Spark. I gather the novel was serialised on the radio on Book at Bedtime, and was long-listed for the Desmond Elliot prize.  Here's a Telegraph review and here's the Independent's.



Bonfire of a bamboo chair that Otto ate when he was a puppy.  He's now a relatively senior dog who wouldn't dream of chewing anything, much.

5 comments:

Debs Carr said...

I haven't seen, Black Swan, but DD said it was really grim and a little wierd.

I reviewed, The Last Wife for Novelicious this week. I enjoyed it too.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Um I thought I wanted to see Black Swan bit not so sure now. I have added The First Wife and the Vision of Loveliness to my wishlist.

Bab's said...

I laughed out loud at the idea of The Black Swan being 'an ideal gift for Mums' . However in my opinion it is an excellent film and certainly worth watching. I would like to say I enjoyed reading your post and I will be following your book recommendations .

callmemadam said...

A friend warned me not to watch Black Swan; she thought my mental state wasn't up to it!

Otto ate a chair?! One of the reasons I don't follow the advice of those who tell me to get a dog. I'll just pat other people's.

CarolynB said...

I enjoy your book reviews - thanks!

Haven't watched 'Black Swan' yet for reasons you share ... probably won't, now -- so many other movies on the list!

Cheers.