Thursday, 28 March 2013

Alps and reading

Early morning in the Alps

Happy Easter to all.

Back from ski holiday in one piece, though managed to hurt a finger on the Eurostar as it hurtled along! Two ski holidays?  Well, I didn't have a summer hols last year, you see. It was all to do with the family.

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie o'Farrell   Here is a Guardian review of this excellent novel.  I loved it and as soon as I had finished, began to read parts again.  I very seldom do this, but the language and the characterisation were so brilliant that I wanted to re-savour them.  I bought this for the Kindle and  I'll buy the paperback too eventually as it is one I want to keep.  It's not much to do with the heatwave of 1976, but it is helpful for a writer to set a book before the invention of mobile phones, for a start, and at a time when perhaps morals were more clear cut.  Or at least people pretended they were. That's the point of this novel about an Irish family with many secrets. Here's the blurb but I'm not sure it entirely does justice to the book which has nothing to do with greenfly:
It’s July 1976 and London is in the grip of a heatwave. It hasn’t rained for months, the gardens are filled with aphids, water comes from a standpipe, and Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he’s going round the corner to buy a newspaper. He doesn’t come back. The search for Robert brings Gretta’s children – two estranged sisters and a brother on the brink of divorce – back home, each with different ideas as to where their father may have gone. None of them suspects that their mother might have an explanation that even now she cannot share.
Maggie O’Farrell’s sixth book is both an intimate portrait of a family in crisis, and the work of an outstanding novelist at the height of her powers.

Husband Missing by Polly Williams.  'Gina has only been married six months when her husband Rex goes on holiday to Spain and vanishes without a trace, tipping her dream new marriage into nightmare. As a frantic search gets nowhere, Gina is adamant that he's alive and vows never to give up hope. Speculation is rife: he's drowned at sea, lost his memory...or just walked away. Troubling stories start to emerge about Rex's past that are hard to square with the man she married. How well does she really know her handsome, charismatic husband? They'd fallen in love so quickly, so passionately, that the past had seemed barely relevant to either of them. Now an explosive secret threatens to rewrite the story of their love affair.' Good stuff, more of a chick lit mystery/holiday read/zippy contemporary novel, on-the-button.

A psychological thriller, When Nights Were Cold by Susanna Jones.  Not too scary but very interesting concerning as it does female climbers in the early 1900s, members of the Mountain Climbing society of their Oxford-type college.  Grace calls her friends by their surnames and they hide their long skirts before they start their climbs, first in Wales, then near the Matterhorn.  But, as is often foreshadowed in the time-shifting narrative, disaster strikes.  Well worth reading, bated breath and all that.

Gave up on Vicky Christina Barcelona, despite the excellent cast (Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson and Sylvia Tietjens/Rebecca Hall)  Much, much too introspective and WoodyAllen-esque

Watched The Mother with Anne Reid and Daniel Craig - phew. Keep smelling salts to hand and see it on your own.  Not a family film.


callmemadam said...

Lovely photos and I'm very impressed by your skiing trips. I just went ice skating in Bournemouth at Christmas and managed to break my arm! Duh.

Looking forward to reading the heatwave book when I can get hold of it.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

I recently finished 'Instructions For A Heatwave' loved it, best yet of her novels.