Book Count (since 1 January 2012)

Book Count (since 1 January 2014): 30

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Harvest by Jim Crace

A book about a small self sufficient community in England who work collectively to gather their wheat harvest and tend their lands. The book is narrated by Walter, a relative newcomer to the community who has loyalties both to the villagers and to the local gentleman landowner. The plot begins with two simultaneous events - a burnt out dovecote and the arrival of some travellers - and progress into a much more destructive chain of events. The plot is interesting and compelling and the writing very good. I enjoyed Walter's narrative thread which gives this book a deceptively gentle pace. A very good, thought provoking novel.

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson

I really enjoyed this excellently observed novel about a young girl growing up in a small London flat with her Hungarian grandmother and aunts and her English mother. The characters in this book a are brilliantly drawn and easy to engage with which makes this novel compelling from the first. The writing is excellent and the plot, though quite simple, both realistic and captivating. This is not a difficult book to read but it contains some very powerful observations. An great book and definitely recommended.

Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw

This is a long book about business and success in Shanghai. It follows numerous characters as they each take different paths towards their goals of happiness and achievement.  I did find this book very hard to get into - to the beginning there are too many and too disparate characters to make it easy to connect with any one of them and for me that made it a challenge to read. 

If you liked White Tiger then I would recommend this. If not, I wouldn't.

The Sea Change by Joanna Rossiter

A novel about a young British traveller, Alice, who's Indian holiday resort gets hit by a tsunami whilst she is on honeymoon. The plot partly follows Alice and her search for her new husband through the wreckage of the wave, and partly Alice's mother Violet who has a turbulent relationship with her daughter and struggles with her past. An easy to read, lightly entertaining book which is instantly forgettable but would make a good beach read.

Mendelssohn is on the Roof by Jiri Weil

An interesting novel about occupied Czechoslovakia in World War II this book intertwined real life events alongside fictional Jewish Czechs stories.  This book is great to read alongside HHhH as Heydrich's assassination is one of the historical events which is covered in the plot. The different characters' stories are all touching and, at times, shocking which makes this book a fascinating read. The writing is good although not outstanding. An excellent read for fans of historical fiction.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A very enjoyable novel about a young Nigerian girl, Ifemelu, who moves to America to study, leaving behind her family and her boyfriend. The book charts the struggles Ifemelu faces as she tries to start a new life in America and finds herself split between two cultures. The writing in this book is wonderful - really emotive and beautifully portrayed - and the characters are realistic and engaging. My only criticism is that I did find the part of the book which is narrated by Ifemelu's childhood boyfriend less powerful and immediate than the rest of the novel.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book which is definitely worth reading.

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

This is a novel about a successful scientist, Yvonne, who embarks on an affair which leads her down a path which results in her arrest. The book starts with a description of a criminal trial at the Old Bailey and it is only as the novel progresses that we learn what the trial is about. The book keeps you entertained and in suspense so it is easy to read. However, Yvonne is difficult to warm to and makes some highly unlikely life decisions so it is hard to be too emotionally engaged with the way the plot develops. A good book which fans of thrillers will enjoy as a holiday read but not a book with a long lasting impact.