2023 here we come!
Already 2023 is spinning by, with my plans stretching ahead into the autumn.
I’ve just reread the fascinating and challenging The House of the Spirits, Isabelle Allende’s first novel. If you want to learn more about South American history and politics wrapped up in the most lyrical, descriptive language, this is worth investigating.
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett- a novella about our late Queen Elizabeth II which wonders what would happen if the Queen became a reader of taste and discernment rather than of Dick Francis? The answer is a perfect story.
The Uncommon Reader is none other than HM the Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace. She reads widely (JR Ackerley, Jean Genet, Ivy Compton Burnett and the classics) and intelligently. Her reading naturally changes her world view and her relationship with people like the oleaginous prime minister and his repellent advisers. She comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with much that she has to do. In short, her reading is subversive. The consequence is, of course, surprising, mildly shocking and very funny.
This has felt particularly topical recently, as a Guardian review said, in the past his head would have been put on a spike- but that’s the beauty of a democratic society. Freedom of speech. In spite of tabloid opinions, we are ALL entitled to have a voice.
As ever with a JP Delaney novel, I pick it up with delight and don’t want to break off. My Darling Daughter was no exception. It is very uncomfortable, and not necessarily one of my favourites- but it exposes facts to do with adoption that I had no idea about.
The child you never knew
knows all your secrets . . .
Out of the blue, Susie Jukes is contacted on social media by Anna, the girl she gave up for adoption fifteen years ago.
But when they meet, Anna's home life sounds distinctly strange to Susie and her husband Gabe. And when Anna's adoptive parents seem to overreact to the fact she contacted them at all, Susie becomes convinced that Anna needs her help.
But is Anna's own behaviour simply what you'd expect from someone recovering from a traumatic childhood? Or are there other secrets at play here - secrets Susie has also been hiding for the last fifteen years?
Then there was My Perfect Friend by Sarah Clarke.
This is a psychological thriller, it was twisty, it was clever, one of the characters is not what she seemed to be but is that too little, too late? For me I felt bombarded by the final final twists which made it a touch too long, but regardless an enjoyable read.
Beth has the perfect life. She has constructed it carefully over the last eighteen years. But one night she makes a choice that risks everything.
When Kat sees an article about that night online, buried memories begin to surface. She and Beth were friends once. Things ended badly then, but now she has a chance to make things right.
Kat introduces herself to Beth. Not as her old friend, but as a stranger. Beth has no idea Kat isn’t who she says she is.
But then neither is Beth.
Thank you to HQDigital for my ARC of this novel
I’m frequently drawn to stories set in a resort, in a sort of 'locked room' mystery way, so The Other Guest by Heidi Perks immediately appealed.
I liked that the story was told from multiple viewpoints & through varying timelines as we are fed nuggets of information. Ultimately though, I wasn't convinced by some of the characters' reactions or lack of reactions to the terrible events during the holiday.
There are numerous red herrings, and if you can suspend belief, it certainly would be a good poolside read.
'She thinks she knows the truth. But what if she's wrong?
Laila and her husband arrive for a week's holiday in Greece in desperate need of a reset.
As Laila sits by the pool she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the other family staying in their resort.
Em has no idea who Laila is, or that she has been watching her and her teenage sons and husband so intently.
Five days later their worlds will be blown apart by a horrifying event.
Laila thinks she knows the truth of what happened. But in telling Em what she's seen, she stands to lose everything she holds dear.
And what if she's got it wrong?
Thank you Random House, Cornerstone for my ARC