My resolution to read more this year has got off to a good start and I’ve already read five books in two months which is pretty good going for me! Part of this is down to me watching less T.V. in the evenings and part is because I read a fair bit on my recent girlie holiday!
So, here’s what I’ve read so far along with a review and score out of 10:
How to Stop Time by Matt Haigh
Having read and loved, The Humans at the end of last year, I had a feeling I would enjoy this and I was right. Born in the 1500s, Tom Hazard suffers from a rare condition in which he ages much slower than everyone else, meaning he is over 500 years old! Because of his condition, and in order to avoid capture for scientific experiments, Tom is forced to keep moving from place to place and is advised by someone he meets suffering with the same condition to never fall in love.
Such a simple concept is wonderfully brought to life by Matt Haigh who tells the story of Tom in flash back form. HIs detail about the past is vivid and especially interesting when he talks about famous characters and certain periods that Tom encounters e.g. Shakespeare or the witch trials. I loved the emotional details of the book especially Tom’s desperation to lead a relatively ‘normal’ life and his need to form attachments to other people without being discovered. Rating: 9/10.
2. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Lisa’s book have definitely taken on a darker approach in recent years and this one is no exception. It tells the story of Laurel and her youngest daughter who years ago vanished suddenly. Laurel never got over the disappearance of Ellie and when she meets a handsome stranger, she is captivated by his daughter who bares a startling resemblance to Ellie.
What starts out as a family drama quickly develops into a breathless thriller which I could not put down. In fact I was told off on a couple of occasions by my husband for having my nose in this book and not talking to him! The story shifts from present day detail about Laurel and her new life to flashbacks about what actually happened to Ellie. The suspense and build up is riveting, but the jolt on reaching this point brought about a mixture of feelings for me; I felt sick at the actual thought of it, combined with a sense of doubt and feeling cheated; could this actually have really happened? The characters are all well drawn and there’s a real sense of sadness for each of them. Rating 7/10.
3. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Set in 1893, this book tells of Cora who moves from London to Essex to start a new life, but when rumours surface of the return of a mythical, man-eating serpent, Cora sets out to prove them wrong.
This isn’t a book I’d normally choose, but I’d heard plenty of good things from other people. Yes, it’s a history book, but more than that it’s a love story. Cora had obviously had a miserable marriage so when her husband dies, she starts afresh in Essex where she meets the local vicar. Although he is married, the two of them have vast differences in their outlook; he is a man of religion where as she is a firm believer in science and rational explanation. And yet, despite their differences, they form a connection and develop a form of relationship. Rating 8/10.
4. Lullaby by Leila Slimani
When lawyer, Myriam decides to return to work after having two children, she and her husband Paul, look for a nanny to take care of their kids. They are overjoyed to meet Louise who seems perfect in every way. But as the couple depend increasingly on Louise, tension grows with suspicions, secrets and resentment mounting to a horrific climax.
This book was chosen by someone at my new book club. I’d heard about it from the press as it had gained a lot of notoriety in France where the book is set and where the author is from. The opening lines of the book are shocking and show the children being murdered. Thereafter the book flashes back to how this horrific event unfolded. There was a lot to relate to; as a Mum, it was easy to identify with the need to have something to do other than just cleaning up after children, so, I enjoyed reading about Myriam’s dilemma about whether to go back to work and use her brain and her need to be there for her children. Louise, the nanny is a complex character and we find out a bit about her background. But I have to say that although it is a shocking and impactful book, I was left with more questions, I wanted to find out more about why Louise did the things she did and more about her family and life. Rating 7/10.
5. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
When a newborn baby dies, the white supremacist father holds the black nurse accountable for his death. The death of the baby and the subsequent legal trial changes the lives of the nurse, the father and the lawyer in the most expected and unexpected ways.
This book is told from the different viewpoints of the main characters and is done very well. It was difficult to read the chapters by the father who as a white supremacist had the most extreme views and used the most violent and vile language. A huge amount of research has gone into this book and it shows. I enjoyed the story and the characters but was slightly disappointed with the twist at the end to do with the baby’s family; I didn’t think this was necessary to include and for me, made me question the credibility of their actions. But I agreed with Jodi Picoult’s notes, about how this book makes you realise that there are two forms of racism – there’s the overt and blatant racism based on prejudice, but also a subliminal form of racism based on ignorance. As a white person of a fairly privileged background, I can relate to this, I can say I have no real knowledge or understanding. I have never had to appreciate the struggle that many black people face every day in terms of things we take for granted. In receiving equal opportunities in education, jobs, even buying products from shops. A real eye opener of a book which made me think. Rating 8/10.
I actually enjoyed all of these books – there isn’t one that I wouldn’t recommend.
Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them? I’d love to know what you think or what you recommend.