I’ve read lots of books since I last blogged, too many probably. It’s so tempting to buy via the Kindle late at night instead of re-reading one of the hundreds of books I already possess.
Here are some of the December reads that stayed in my mind. More to come soon.
Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty. Gruelling and compelling story of a mother whose child has been killed crossing the road. Well written and unputdownable.
I wasn’t quite so convinced by Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie but nevertheless found it compelling and hard to put down too. It's been eight years since Gen Loxley lost her daughter, Beth: eight years of grief in which nothing's moved forward. Gen has settled in to a life of half-hearted teaching, while her husband Art their fortune. For Gen, life without Beth is unbearable - but still it goes on. And then a woman arrives on Gen's doorstep, saying that her daughter was not stillborn, but was spirited away as a healthy child, and is out there, waiting to be found...So why is Art reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or something much more sinister? What is the truth about Beth Loxley?
The Sea Change by Joanna Rossiter seemed a little too consciously writerly at the beginning but became an interesting, affecting story. Well researched WW2 background about those left behind in England, including a horrific ‘friendly fire’ accident and a devastated village in Wiltshire.
The Detective’s Daughter by Lesley Thomson. Atmospheric. Kate Rokesmith's murder changed the lives of many. Her husband, never charged, moved abroad under a cloud of suspicion. Her son, just four years old, grew up in a loveless boarding school. And Detective Inspector Darnell, vowing to leave no stone unturned in the search for her killer, began to lose his only daughter. The young Stella Darnell grew to resent the dead Kate Rokesmith. Her dad had never vowed to leave no stone unturned for her. Now, thirty years later, Stella is dutifully sorting through her father's attic after his sudden death. The Rokesmith case papers are in a corner, gathering dust: the case was never solved. Stella knows she should destroy them. Instead, she opens the box, and starts to read.
The Silent Tide by Rachel Hore
When Emily Gordon, editor at a London publishing house, commissions an account of English novelist Hugh Morton, she finds herself steering a tricky path between Morton's formidable widow and the ambitious biographer. But someone is sending Emily mysterious missives about Hugh Morton's past and she discovers a buried story that simply has to be told… In 1948, young Isabel Barber arrives at her aunt’s house in Earl's Court having run away from home.. A chance meeting leads to a job with a publisher and a fascinating career beckons. But when she develops a close editorial relationship with charismatic young novelist Hugh Morton and the professional becomes personal, not only are all her plans put to flight, but she finds herself in a struggle for her survival.
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty Good writing, vivid characterisation.
What I’ve really enjoyed reading are all the Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard. Somehow I missed them first time around. Do read them if you’re interested in the realistic story of a upper middle class family during the war and after. The children are particularly vivid, possibly because it’s partly autobiographical. Reminds me vaguely of The Forsyte Saga in the sense that it’s a family story, though obviously of a later period. Shall look forward to the latest episode. Google Elizabeth Jane Howard if you want to find out more about this interesting writer, who recently died. Her private life and marriages to difficult men, particularly Kingsley Amis, affected her writing considerably.