Book Count (since 1 January 2012)

Book Count (since 1 January 2014): 30

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Sula by Toni Morrison

I loved this.  It is a beautifully written story about two young girls growing up in a small black community in the hills of rural America.  The writing is really enjoyable to read – it is thought provoking without being overly complex or pretentious, and is often deceptively simple.  The plot focuses on one of the girls' return from cosmopolitan travels around the US and how that affects her position within the community.  I would definitely recommend this very worthwhile read.

A Book for All and None by Clare Morgan

This book reminded me of Possession by A S Byatt although it was not as good.  It is about two Oxford fellows (Beatrice and Bernard) who start a relationship as they work together on a potential link between Nietzsche and Virginia Woolf.  To be honest, it was pretty boring and hard to get through.  The book is very well researched and exactingly written but this does not make for a very passionate or engaging read.  The best bits of the novel were the sections which were written from the point of view of the husband of one of the Oxford fellows as he was the most well developed and interesting character.  The rest of the book was split between sections narrated by Beatrice and those narrated by Bernard, both of which are a little two dimensional.  There is also a ridiculous DaVinci Code style end to the book which made the whole thing lose credibility in my view.  A technically excellent book which is easy to admire but hard to enjoy.

Hope: A Tragedy by by Shalom Auslander

I enjoyed this novel which is a very unusual darkly comic book about a small American family who move into a rural farmhouse and discover an old lady hiding in the attic who claims she is Anne Frank.  Whilst this sounds like something I would usually cackle at in scorn, it is surprisingly easy to accept.  I think this is partly because the book's comic framework allows for a more forgiving artistic licence.   It is also a very unpretentious book - the writing is good but generally unobtrusive – so it is this ambitious plot which makes this book such an interesting read. 

As well as dealing with Anne Frank, the main character, Solomon, grapples with his own demons apparently the result of his mother's amusingly portrayed bitter self-obsession.  This gives the book an interesting psychological subtext, but the light comic touches deliver this without undue depression.  So overall an enjoyable if dark comedy about family and its impact on one's personality.

Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver

This is a strange book about a young American couple and their two children who discover a migration of butterflies on their land.  Their lives are taken over by the flock of visitors and scientists who come to investigate, and this impacts dramatically on the family's hierarchy with life changing results.  This is nowhere near as good as either of her other two novels I have read, partly because the plot is a bit thin but mainly because the writing is not as poetic or meaningful as in her previous books.  I did enjoy the characters, particularly the mother of the two children who is very well developed and realistic, but there was not enough overall depth to the book which made it quite boring in parts.  It did not help that this is a long book because this really stretched the subject matter to breaking point.  It is an interesting read but does not reach the standards of her previous books.