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.