Sunday, 10 August 2014

Otto the dog and Recent Reads

The good news is that Otto held on to his second place in the Best Behaved dog class at the village flower show.  The competition was tough - only Labradors in the final, of course, other breeds eliminated in the first round.  All very tense, the crowd agog.  Other villagers won prizes and cups for chutney, cakes, gladioli or the best branch of runner beans, but we were v happy with the blue rosette.

Sorry to have neglected the blog for so long but here are some Recent Reads

 The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam—a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion.  On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office—leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.
Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist—an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand—and fear—the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious city to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe”

Atmospheric, great stuff, but bad things happen eventually, be warned.  Do read this book and also google Jessie Burton – she sounds great fun. 

 The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt..  A must-read, gripping, prize-winning novel.

Aged thirteen, Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart. Alone and rudderless in New York, he is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. He is tormented by an unbearable longing for his mother, and down the years clings to the thing that most reminds him of her: a small, strangely captivating painting that ultimately draws him into the criminal underworld. As he grows up, Theo learns to glide between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love - and his talisman, the painting, places him at the centre of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.  Alice fell in a gym class and lost the memory of the last ten years of her life.  An amusing take on the developments in the last ten years.  Alice becomes a Rip Van Winkle figure and can’t understand the changes in her life and her marriage.  She can’t even remember her children.

We are all completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler.  A very interesting and worthwhile novel but to review it is to spoil the surprise half way through the book.

The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell.   Interesting and readable, of course, but I wasn’t always entirely convinced that all the wives would get on so, so well.  Or maybe the point was that they didn’t.

 This Boy the autobiography of Alan Johnson, who had a difficult deprived childhood.  It is amazing what he achieved.  Do read it.

The Woman in the Picture by Katharine McMahon continues the great story of brave female barrister Enid Gifford from the Crimson Rooms.  It does stand alone, but it is helpful if you read the latter first.   London, 1926. Evelyn Gifford is not a woman to let convention get in her way. One of Britain's first female lawyers, she has taken on the male establishment. Outside the courtroom, however, Evelyn's life is not going to plan. Following a devastating love affair, she has left the confines of her family home and has moved in with Meredith, a headstrong artist and the mother of Evelyn's beloved nephew. But now Meredith is threatening to leave for France, taking the child with her, and even Evelyn's formidable Aunt Prudence is off to India.

The only thing left for Evelyn is to throw herself into work. London is tense in the days leading up to the General Strike and Evelyn finds herself embroiled in two very different cases - one involving a family linked to the unions, the other a rich factory owner who claims not to be the father of his wife's child.

As Evelyn faces the hardest challenges of her career, an unexpected proposal from someone close to her coincides with the return of her former love. Evelyn must ask herself what matters most - security with a man she admires or passion with the man who might just betray her?”


sablonneuse said...

Congratulations to Otto - and to you of course!

You put me to shame with the number of books you get through. The one set in Amsterdam looks intriguing.

Do you have any more in the pipeline?

Nan said...

Your words about the flower show warm my heart and make me think that the England of older times still exists. So happy for Otto. Very funny about all the other breeds falling short.

Susie Vereker said...

Lovely to hear from you both after all this time. Makes me realise I miss my blogging friends. I must blog more. Have been sidetracked by Twitter.