Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Olympics and reading notes

Aren't the Olympics terrific? Even our terminally gloomy downbeat journos haven't found much to complain about. It's so good to see healthy polite young people having a great time. (Blogger has changed again, can't find how to post photos as the usual icon is not there. And Blogger has decided off its own bat that I need comment moderation, so sorry Nan and Jane that it has taken me a couple of months to realise this.)

A big gap to fill. I’m never going to be able to report fully on all the books I’ve read since I last blogged so here are a few notes on the highlights, in no particular order.

I find I buy more books than ever now that I have a Kindle as I don’t feel guilty about adding to the groaning shelves around the house.

First two books featuring a mentally unhinged woman

Tideline by Penny Hancock, a gripping psychological thriller with wonderful, evocative descriptions of Greenwich. R & J choice. A good read. The main protagonist behaves very badly, but one begins to sympathise with her delusions.

The Mistress’s Revenge by Tamar Cohen. Here the main protagonist has lost touch with reality because her long-term lover has ditched her. She moans a great deal, but with such a dry witty turn of phrase that you almost forgive her. Despite her long-term partner and two children, she’s so fixated on her affair with her ghastly ex-lover that she becomes more and more involved with his wife and daughter. The ending was unexpected, so that’s good.

If Morning Ever Comes, an early book by Anne Tyler, before she got into her stride.

Not nearly as good as her more mature novels but interesting for the devoted fan.

Night Waking by Sarah Moss. Again wonderful descriptive writing, this time of the Inner Hebrides where the main protagonist and her vague ineffectual husband, both somewhat over-precious academics, are living on a small island. She is meant to be writing, while her husband counts puffins. The antithesis of a domestic goddess and struggling to cope, the self-pitying heroine is in need of a visit from Supernanny as one of her children, toddler Moth (short for Timothy, in case you wondered) doesn’t sleep much and the older child is obsessed by death and destruction. Moth is amusing and any mother will recognise his antics with a shudder. I enjoyed it, but don’t read this if you have no children because it may either bore you or put you off for life. On the other hand the rest of us can think, well, I wasn’t perfect but at least I managed better than Anna. Along with the modern story, we read about infant mortality through the eyes of a Victorian nurse unable to communicate with the Gaelic-speaking island women. Sounds grim but it was in fact evocative and interesting. Here's a Guardian review.

I Remember Nothing and other Reflections. Essays about life from the late Norah Ephron who is always worth reading.

The Importance of being Kennedy by Laurie Graham. Told from the point of view of one of the Kennedy family maids, this is an amusing and poignant novel from another witty writer. Rose Kennedy comes out badly and it is the brilliant Kick who suffers.

I’m always interested in the way Laurie Graham mixes fact and real life. But Kick’s story, like Princess Diana’s, is more dramatic than fiction.

I'll read more books by the above interesting authors.

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