Sunday, 7 April 2013

Reading notes & early Otto

Above is a photo from this date two years ago.  Not a single one of these daffodils is flowering yet. (Admittedly there wasn't a whole host fluttering and dancing in the breeze in the first place.  Cute puppy, though.)

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson.  Bound to win lots of lit prizes. I don't think it's spoiling the plot to say that Ursula, born in a well-to-do family in 1909, has a chance to be re-incarnated time after time, to change her life, not that she is aware of this phenomenon.  Or was she? Which was her real life?  You the reader can decided that for yourself. KA is a brilliant writer, and particularly good on the Blitz, amazingly vivid.  You have to concentrate on this book though. Having saved it for a 7-hr Eurostar journey I gave up and surrendered to the chatter.  It may even be too much if you are on your sickbed: you need all your wits about you, or at least I did.  Here's a link to her website.
Do read this novel.

The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson.  Well-written, well-researched, a historical crime thriller.  Again it begins in 1909 but in a totally different milieu 'the dazzling joys of the Belle Epoche'.  The dark and dangerous side of Paris at the time is also brilliantly evoked, particularly the flood (you can google for photos of this event).  As for Maud, the impoverished and (eventually) vengeful main protagonist, I almost lost touch with her towards the end in the complications of the plot.  If you like Paris history with a good dose of intrigue and art, this is one for you.
"Maud Heighton came to Lafond’s famous Académie to paint and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris eats money. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling pleasures the city, Maud slips into poverty.
 Quietly starving and dreading another cold Paris winter, Maud takes a job as a companion to young, beautiful Sylvie Morel. But Sylvie has a secret: as addiction to opium. As Maud is drawn into the Morels’ world of elegant luxury, their secrets become hers. Before the New Year arrives, a greater deception will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light."

Bertie Plays the Blues by Alexander McCall Smith.  Always amusing and thought provoking.  I can never totally believe in his young things/young-married characters, so philosophical for their age-group, but they're charming, of course.  This is an Edinburgh-based book, so that's fun too. It could hardly be set anywhere else.

Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman. I enjoyed this good romantic read. (A winner of an RNA award)
When Rose Pritchard turns up on the doorstep of a Cumbrian BandB it is her last resort. She and her seven-year-old daughter Maddie have left everything behind. And they have come to the village of Millthwaite in search of the person who once offered Rose hope.
Almost immediately Rose wonders if she's made a terrible mistake - if she's chasing a dream - but she knows in her heart that she cannot go back. She's been given a second chance - at life, and love - but will she have the courage to take it?

My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding  Interesting autobiography, but you need to be horsey/keen on the turf to appreciate it fully, as it deals with Clare's racing years.


Cornflower said...

Sweet Otto!
I agree about Life after Life - it needs concentration, but it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

Lovely photo,thanks for the reviews.xx

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

Otto looks so sweet! Few daffodils here and pouring rain today!

I've got Life After Life on my tbr pile and look forward to reading it.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

I remember when you got Otto, thought it was just a year ago not two! I am looking forward to reading Life After Life, your review tempts me even more.

Karen said...

I love that photo! How time flies.

I'm over half-way through Life after Life at the moment, and thoroughly enjoying it - what a writer.

Susie Vereker said...

Thanks for your comments. The daffodils are appearing at last, so maybe we'll have a Spring after all.