In amongst reading Wilkie Collins The Woman in White (which took me what felt like forever to finish!), I’ve picked up a few other interesting reads lately. I’ve found that I’m tending to opt for a lot of romance and mysteries at the moment between heavier books and (tut-tut) I’m still sadly lacking in my amount of non-fiction reads for the year. I really MUST rectify that!
The Forget-Me-Not Sonata; Santa Montefiore- Santa Montefiore is always a safe bet when I want a romantic escapist read set in an unusual and beautiful setting. One of her older novels, this is set in Argentina and tells the story of a romance between wealthy Audrey and ‘unsuitable’ and eccentric musician, Louis. It was an enjoyable way of whiling away a few hours and might actually be one of my favourite books by her to date. 4 out of 5 stars.
Brave New World; Aldous Huxley- Unsurprisingly this is not a romance novel and really doesn’t need much summarising, either. This famous classic is a book that I’ve wanted to read for a long time- not only because it is a Guardian book either… I was delighted to find it in a Penguin orange classic edition too- bonus! Brave New World is science-fiction and satire at its best and a must-read for fans of Orwell’s 1984. I loved its premise, its characters and even some of its disturbing bits, which were particularly well-written. I think my only quibble with it is that it could have been slightly longer. 4 out of 5 stars.
The Honey Queen; Cathy Kelly- I had a massive binge on Cathy Kelly’s books years back and hadn’t picked up any for a long while. I was keen to see if they’d still be filled with lovely characters and happy endings and thankfully this was the case. This was a moving story of love, grief and family and slightly dark in places too, which made it pretty realistic. By the epilogue however, everything is wrapped up with a neat little bow. 4 out of 5 stars.
Natural Flights of the Human Mind; Clare Morrall- I truly can’t remember how long I have had this book sitting on my shelves, which makes me a bit annoyed I didn’t get around to picking it up sooner. It’s a romantic drama novel with a bit of a difference, focusing more on the reluctant friendship between two individuals who have had very painful pasts. It is poignant and forces the reader to think about forgiveness, redemption and guilt and how not everything can be particularly clear cut; everyone can make mistakes and some people have to live with the consequences seemingly forever. Without risk of giving away any spoilers about the plot itself, I found it to be nicely paced with great characterisation and some tantalising mystery elements. I also loved its ‘seaside’ setting, which for me always evokes feelings of nostalgia. Aside from its ending, which I found a bit too quick for my tastes, I finished this lovely little book desperate to go off and live in a lighthouse for a while! 4 out of 5 stars.
The Wall of Days; Alistair Bruce- a bit of a toughie this one as I really wanted to like it more than I eventually did. After a spectacularly strong start, the story sort of petered off a bit in the middle and I found the ending to be weak. It had a great premise; I just think overall it was a poorly executed one.
The story tells the tale of Bran, a man who has been exiled to live on an island in the middle of the sea, following some unspeakable crimes he has committed in the past. After living there for ten years, he is unexpectedly forced to return back to his home, but he finds that the place he left is now very, very different. Again, this was a story of guilt and atonement- but if I’m honest, I’m still a bit bewildered by its ending. Maybe I just need to reread it to see if I understood what actually happened?! 3 stars out of 5.
The Man Who Forgot His Wife; John O’Farrell- ‘bloke-lit’ at its best. This is the story of a man who after unexpectedly entering a state of fugue, one day realises he cannot recollect anything- including his own name and least of all his wife’s—a wife he is apparently on the verge of divorcing. What has brought about the destruction of Vaughan’s marriage, and is there anything he can do to save it, before it is too late?
With some subtle humour, poignancy, terrific characters and an engaging storyline, this is an escapist read I am really glad I picked up. I think it’s a book for fans of Matt Dunn to appreciate- and I would certainly read more by John O’Farrell in future as a consequence of giving this one a go. 4 stars out of 5.
At the moment I’m reading The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen, a paperback that I’ve had sitting on my shelves for ages. I’m also listening to World War Z on audio book. I’m happy to say though that I now have a working Kindle and there are some books saved on my library that I’ve been eager to get to, so I’m looking forward to making inroads into those- as well as hopefully requesting some new releases for review!
What are you reading at the moment? Any recommendations you would like to pass on?