Thursday, 25 August 2011

Ann Cleeves - Silent Voices

Another all nighter or so it seemed, well wee hours anyway. I just had to finish this. It was really exciting, kept you guessing and maintained the tension throughout.
This is the fourth in the Vera Stanhope series. The only trouble is that after the TV series Vera, I firmly have Brenda Blethyn in my head now but the plus side is that as a Southener I can now hear the voices as I read.
An interesting book, I love the touches of humour, the Health Club was acutely observed, as I too swim before work. I must say I did look around the steam room this morning!
I thought the plot was good, very topical, the murder victim being a a social worker who had worked on a high profile case where a child was killed.

I think because of the subject matter it would make a good Reading Group book especially for a Crime Reading Group.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Tatiana de Rosnay - Sarah's Key

This I believe is Tatiana's first book in English. I looked it up having enjoyed The Secret ( review below) so much.

I also enjoyed this one and again it will make an excellent Reading Group read. This is another dual time novel set in the present day and war time Paris. This is Paris of WW2 the time of the Vichy government. This story concerns a shameful and little advertised fact of that time. The French Police (not the Nazis) rounded up over 13,000 Jews most of them women and children, in the summer of 1942. They were kept in inhumane conditions before finally they were then deported in cattle trucks and killed in Auschwitz. Most of over 4000 children were French. They did not survive.

This is the story of one little girl and a modern day journalist's obsession with finding out her story.

It is a good book, that keeps you guessing until the end. I read it quickly over 2 days as I was desperate to find out what happened.

As is often the way the older story had more resonance. I thought the journalist was a little naive in every sense but then we are all flawed aren't we, so it was true to life!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Sarah Winman - When God Was A Rabbit

This is a very funny book. It will also make you cry. At the same time it is very deep, dealing with complex issues that really make you examine your own opinions and reflect on your own childhood.
The book is about the growing up of a sister and brother. A rite of passage novel if you will but, it also brings in the global triumphs and tragedies as a commentary on their lives, on our own lives.
Again an absolute must for Reading Groups. It even helpfully has reading group notes in the back.
This book will have you laughing out loud, in the scene with the nativity play I nearly fell out of bed - and then she delivers the punch line that brilliant sentence that sums up the world as it really is.
Her characters are well drawn and by the end of the book you really feel you know them. I could go on for pages but better still pick up a copy at your local library and be prepared to read something really special.
Is the book realistic, probably not but as a social commentary it is priceless.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Tatiana de Rosnay - A Secret Kept

This is a fantastic book and would make an excellent reading group book. There is a lot here to discuss.
This is basically a dual time mystery novel set in France. I cannot say too much about the plot as I would give it away. What I can say is that this was one of those books that had me reading into the small hours of the morning to find out what happened.
This book is also full of relationships, and the psychology that drives them.
What I also found interesting is that this book is about French protagonists and it fascinating to get behind the psyche of a different race.
I thoroughly recommend it.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Natasha Solomons - The Novel in the Viola

Oh I am just so jealous. Natasha writes like a dream she is fantastic. I loved her previous novel, Mr Rosenblaum's List. This book is set during the Second World War in Austria and Dorset, UK.
It is the story of Elise, a middle class Jewish Girl, born into the glamorous world of her opera singer mother and writer father. They send her to England before the outbreak of the war on a domestic ticket. This girl who has never had to lift a finger before, who speaks little English arriving from the bustling Austrian city of Vienna coming to rural Dorset as a servant. A village in Dorset that is going to be requisitioned by the army.( This really happened, a village still sits there on the coast, bombed out for target practise, a village of ghosts)
This is a novel of many genres, historical, coming of age, romantic, sad and above all brilliant. Again this book is as much about, what is the essence of being English as it is about being a refugee.
It would make an excellent reading group novel, there is a wealth of discussion points to delve!

Olivia Darling - Temptation

This is a great big girlie piece of chick lit. I did not expect to enjoy it but I did. It was well written, amusing, a little sardonic and of course everyone gets their just desserts.

We have three women a successful Opera Diva, who divorces her philandering husband - a famous tenor. After financial problems she finds herself agreeing to tour the world with her ex-husband. We have an impressionable banker, ( successful but naive) who slowly realises that the rotter at the bank, ( married corrupt) will stop at nothing to get the money he needs. Including getting her the sack.

We then have a young black girl encouraged to sing at school, introduced to Opera by an inspired teacher. She works as an office cleaner now but dreams of being an opera singer. As the book progresses the lives of these three women inexorably begin to cross over and entwine leading to the explosive climax.

This is absolutely a book to take to the pool or beach this summer!