Talking about books

 ~ at home

 

books we read this summer

 

Click on the book covers for more information and to buy from your favourite bookshop via bookshop.org

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

This book is about a pair of trans women who split up and then one of them detransitions and presents as a man again. He then gets a new (cis-gender) girlfriend. He thinks he is infertile because of all the hormones he took as a teenager to become a trans woman and accidentally gets his girlfriend pregnant and she does not seem to be very enthusiastic about the pregnancy. His old trans girlfriend would dearly love a baby and so he suggests that the three of them, a trans woman, a man who has detransitioned and a straight woman, might bring up the baby together. The book really is about the various relationships between the three protagonists, but concentrating mainly on the two trans characters. I found it an interesting book, I think because it is about things that are way beyond my experience. I feel I learned something about the difficulties that trans people face in being accepted and establishing their place in society. However, some of the ideas that the characters seem to have about sex for cis-gender women seemed rather misogynistic to me! 

Monogamy by Sue Miller

Monogamy describes a marriage where the husband has just died unexpectedly and the wife is grieving, gradually getting used to being alone and understanding her relationship with her husband. Much of the book is in the past and so you build up a picture of how they met, their initial relationship and subsequent long years of marriage (a second marriage for both partners). The parts of the book in the present are more about the relationships between the woman and the other family members (a daughter, a step-son, her husband’s ex-wife) and various friends,  particularly about how those relationships related to their marriage. I enjoyed it as a slow read and think I would like to try another of Sue Miller’s books.

The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs

This is about a forensic anthropologist, Temperance Brennan, and her investigations into two pairs of unidentified women washed up in containers in the sea fifteen years apart. One container was found in Quebec and one in South Carolina, the two places where she works. She suspects that the two are connected and possibly related to a new disease.  The book is a light read and quite enjoyable. It is one of many about Temperance Brennan.

Fiona Berryman

Talking about Books, Much Wenlock

Doctor Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party by Graham Greene

I’ve said before that I came to Graham Greene late and have enjoyed what I’ve read. This is a novella (143 pages in my edition) published when Greene was 76 and living in Vevey near Lake Geneva, home to his narrator. It’s a satire about how much humiliation greedy rich people will endure to add valuable gifts to their wealth. Alongside is a romance that evokes unsentimentally the things that have real meaning in life and whose loss leaves us bereft. The opening sentence highlights the parallel threads: ‘I think that I used to detest Doctor Fischer more than any other man I have known just as I loved his daughter more than any other woman.’

A somewhat ambivalent review on www.kirkusreviews.com says of the romance: ‘And the austerely understated love between Jones and Anna-Luise somehow lingers in the mind longer than the vividly concocted humiliation parties.’ I think this conveys the lightness of touch that I admire in Graham Greene; he seems to write very plainly but somehow he makes us feel for his protagonists.

The thought that I took away from the book was that often the power people have to hurt us is power that we give them in some way. Often one is free to walk away and often that may be the best thing to do.

Marian Newell

Talking about Books, Much Wenlock

I’ve read these and would recommend them to anyone.

 

Woodston: The Biography of an English Farm by John Lewis-Stempel

The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne

Field Work by Bella Bathhurst

Jim Thompson

The Morville Hours by Katherine Swift

A true story by someone who took on a National Trust property and created a garden at the Morville Dower House in Shropshire. But it’s not just about gardening, she interweaves the story of the house from medieval times while also cleverly telling her own story alongside it and giving lots of detail about the garden she creates. There are illustrations and maps to help the reader imagine the garden and its surroundings.
I have visited the garden many years ago but reading its story was fascinating and I hope to be able to go again next year.

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Set in the US, a couple and their two teenage children leave New York for a holiday in a rented property away from the city on Long Island. They are just becoming used to the peace and quiet and relaxing into their holiday when they hear a surprise knock at the door. The couple standing there introduce themselves as the owners of the property and enter the house saying they had to leave New York because of a complete black out and loss of all internet and phone connections. Hard to imagine a world where you cannot communicate, the author describes very realistically their fear and suspicion.
How should they react? Has the world really changed? Should they believe them? In the event, one does but the other doesn’t, which causes even more discord. If I tell you more there will be spoilers….
I would like to see it filmed.

Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce

Set in WW2, this appealed to me as my mother was a young woman working in London at this time. Emmy gets a job on a magazine but is frustrated by her boss failing to – in her opinion – fulfil her role as agony aunt. What can she do? Emmy dreams of being a war correspondent but, until that happens she decides to answer some letters herself – will there be repercussions? An easy read with a believable picture of wartime London and journalism when it was all about typewriters and copy.

 

Monsieur Ka by Vesna Goldsworthy

I started this with no idea what it was about. Albertine is a young French woman married to an Englishman and living in a snow clad London of 1947. She gets a job working for Monsieur Ka as his companion and, as she gets to know him better he starts to tell her his story. His mother, Anna, died when he was only nine and he was raised by his father. I gradually realised the author had taken Tolstoy’s story of Anna Karenina and was telling us what happened next. Fascinating and cleverly conceived with many twists, including Albertine accompanying her employer on a visit to the film studio to meet the cast filming Anna Karenina in 1947 starring Vivien Leigh.
Of all the books I have read recently this is the one I would recommend, it’s the sort of book you need to discuss with others!

Sarah Akhtar

National Women's Register, Trentham

Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

This is the first of Victoria’s novels that I have read. It tells us about the lives of an Athens family during the period of the German occupation of Greece, subsequent civil war and military dictatorship, ending just a few years ago. It is full of detail and I would imagine correctly factual.
Initially I found Victoria’s journalistic style slightly irritating, particularly so much telling, but as I read on, I became fascinated by the family members and wanted to hear how they endured what were extremely hard times. The second two thirds of the story, I found gripping.
It’s 496 pages, are in my view worth the time and effort, particularly if your knowledge of that period in Greece is as limited as mine was.

 

Peacocks in Paradise by Anna Nicholas

This is a flight of fancy around Mallorca, published by Burro Books. It is the seventh in a Mallorca travel series written by Anna Nicholas, who as well as being a journalist, fiction writer and traveller, is a supporter of humanitarian and charitable causes.

If you are a fan of The Island, but not Magaluf and similar resorts, this book is for you. In fact you could do worse, if you have not already discovered Anna’s series, than start at the beginning with A Lizard in my Luggage. The books cover a wide range of island life, it’s characters, activities such as agriculture and wine making, as well as details of the biology and geography of particularly Tramuntana and the Soller Valley where Anna lives. There are loads of facts as well as humour and adventure, in this latest, she sets off to climb all the miles ie the peaks of Tramuntana over 1000 metres.

If this book is for you, obtain a copy as soon as possible, so that you can read it sitting in your garden with a dish of olives and or almonds and a glass of Rosado, bearing in mind that in this country Mallorcan wines are difficult to obtain as the islanders like to keep good things for themselves. With an Indian Summer, you will not be disappointed.

Trio by William Boyd

When I hear of a new William Boyd novel being published, I think salted caramel or chocolate chip, as opposed to the vanilla or strawberry flavours of many contemporary writers. The thought of it makes me lick my lips in anticipation and when I began to read his latest story I knew I would not be disappointed. Of course everyone is entitled to read his books, but I do think William is very much a writers writer. He tells a good story in an enjoyable way.

I have read all his novels and many of his short stories and until Trio, I have to say my favourite was Restless. But his latest adventure set in 1968 particularly resonates as I well remember that time. The tale revolves around the making of a film in Brighton and in particular, concentrates on three of the characters involved. In true Boyd style, it is not the three most obvious of those which will be listed in the credits.
It proves an engaging story and the 343 pages will only be set aside by the sternest of readers. I wouldn’t be surprised if this story was filmed.

Finally, what always charms me about William Boyd is his consistent dedication of his books to Susan, his spouse.

Roger Noons

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

I’m sorry to be repetitive, but having raved about an Elizabeth Strout novel a few months ago I have to say that the best book I read this summer was another of hers: The Burgess Boys. It’s a story about three adult siblings, all of whom have been marked in different ways by a childhood trauma, and what happens when the son of one of them gets into trouble. As with all her novels I found it totally absorbing, feeling I was living alongside these flawed people and thinking about them long after I finished the book. Strout’s usual milieu of small-town Maine is this time enlivened with immigration issues, and contrasted with scenes of city life in New York.

The trouble is, Strout spoils me for reading other fiction writers. I’ve just finished reading The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey and well, it was entertaining enough but just felt rather superficial to me!

Dodgers by Bill Beverly

On the other hand, I was surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed a crime novel! I don’t normally read this genre, but Maureen lent me Dodgers by Bill Beverly and it was a terrific read – thanks, Maureen! It’s more of a bildungsroman than a thriller, and a bit of a road movie…(do road movie books have a name? i can’t remember!) and the central character is captivating. It was great to read something so different from my normal fare.

The Thing About December by Donal Ryan

Finally, a word for Donal Ryan. I read The Thing About December and was blown away by the beauty of the writing. It’s simply gorgeous – and the Irish lilt of it had me ’thinking’ in Irish for a while – so it did. It’s a bleak story, and upsetting, although the loneliness and isolation are leavened a bit by the warmth of great parental love. A certain amount of belief has to be suspended, too, but it is terrific all the same. Ryan can be counted on not to give you a pat, happy ending … so only read this if you’re feeling strong!

Nicky Bennison

Readers Retreat, Leicestershire Shared Reading

The first two books – a biography and a novel – are touched by the colour red but could hardly be more different.

The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes

This is a biography of Samuel Pozzi, a renowned doctor, set in the Belle Époque of late nineteenth century France. The paperback is sumptuously printed and lavishly illustrated (hence the high quality paper and printing) and a delight to hold; it’s informative, charming, entertaining, amusing (wait till you read about Sara Bernardt’s amputated leg), with wonderful writing by Barnes as usual. It’s actually at least three biographies, including those of a prince and a count, and I loved it. It took a few pages to get into it but when I did, after the intriguing start, I couldn’t put it down; I’ll read it again before long, as much detail and many names need another look; it could do with an index.

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

This is the latest novel by Anne Tyler, who is now almost 80. She still writes beautifully and the story is set, as usual, in and around Baltimore. Micah Mortimer, the Tech Hermit, makes his living from mending computers for people. In less than two hundred pages we get to know him and his routines, his girlfriend, his family, and the young man who appears from nowhere to upend his life. A deceptively easy read, it will stay with you, as a good novel should.

 

Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed

The word ‘diversity’ has been hijacked to become a politically dirty word on the right and a clarion call on the left. Matthew Syed argues for ‘cognitive diversity’ across organisations, politics and society as a whole. He stresses the importance of having outsiders among decision-makers to provide alternative perspectives; for example, in the early days of the Covid crisis, NICE was secretive and introspective and Syed wonders if its advice would have been different if it had not been comprised almost entirely of epidemiologists – would there have been an earlier lockdown, for example? Other examples abound where bad decisions are made by groups of similar-minded individuals who cannot think outside their own bubble. This is a thought-provoking read.

The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth

Philip Roth is one of the great writers. The first book of his I read was the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Pastoral, one of the novels featuring his alter ego Nathan Zukerman. I have recently re-read The Ghost Writer, the first of them. Young, promising writer, Zukerman, is staying at the home of his literary idol E. I. Lonoff and his wife, Hope. Also at the house is the mysterious young woman Amy Bellette, a former student and whose astonishing claims about herself (no spoiler here) are eye-opening. The book is short (180 pages in my paperback) and wonderfully written. Incidentally, if you haven’t read any Philip Roth, you could do worse than start with The Plot Against America, which imagines what would have happened in America if Charles Lindberg had beaten FDR to the presidency in 1940.

Philip Browning

Talking about Books and Poetry Breakfast, Much Wenlock

Happiness by Aminatta Forna

I love Aminatta Forna’s writing. (I can also highly recommend The Memory of Love and The Devil That Danced on the Water.) Influenced by memories of her father, Forna’s novels touch on the aftermath of war and conflict situations and the psychological trauma that often follows. This grim-sounding description should not put you off. This novel is set in London but weaves the stories of the main characters (a leading expert on conflict and trauma from Ghana, an American wildlife biologist, immigrants from the African diaspora, as well as a whole load of foxes) together to show kindness and humanity amidst histories of struggle and grief. I think Happiness is a love story between people and places; it observes in beautiful detail the urban and natural environment and our place in it and questions the values of the societies we live in. I loved this line from a review I read, that Forna ‘writes into the space between human and nature… where the novel shudders out of convention to reveal something wild’.

The Night Tiger – Yangsze Choo

This was a great read. A page-turning whodunnit set in 1930’s Malaya (Malaysia), intertwining aspects of culture, folklore and magical realism into a fast-moving plot. An orphaned houseboy, Ren, is tasked by his dying master with finding the master’s severed finger and re-uniting it with his body within 49 days of his death. Ji Lin, training as a seamstress’ apprentice, is supplementing this work by secretly working at a dance hall to earn enough to pay off her mother’s gambling debts. It is in the dance hall that Ji Lin comes into possession of the finger and the story unfolds to bring the two characters together, to try to lay the ghost of Ren’s former employer to rest.

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

Beautiful, beautiful writing. Language that is plain and stripped bare, but gentle and full of tenderness to tell a story that is ultimately up-lifting. (The same can be said for another of Haruf’s novels, Our Souls at Night, which is also a beautiful read).

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

This was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker prize and there is just so much to unpack in this book, I almost don’t know what to write. It is not an easy read, but it is ‘frost-like’ writing: clear, sharp, hard and breath-taking! The story is set in Ethiopia in the 1930’s with Mengiste giving a voice to the women written out of the official history of the fight against the invasion of the country by Mussolini and his army. The subject matter is hard, but the women are strong, and form likely and unlikely unions to survive a harsh world. I completely recommend it.

Rad

Lusaka Book Club and Silverwood Book Group

Earth to Earth by Stefan Buczacki

A short book written by the former broadcaster and chair of Gardeners’ Question Time. It is subtitled A Natural History of Churchyards.

As a renowned professor of Botany he gives an interesting insight into the natural life existing in English churchyards from the bats and birds down to the plants and lichen. This includes various animals and insects – churchyards are a veritable haven it seems. Their relative isolation provides much security for all flora and fauna. It finishes with a useful couple of chapters on their future.  There is probably nothing practical we, as gardeners, can draw from this book but it will certainly make my visits to churches and their yards more engaging. Throughout the book are many wonderful photographs and other artwork. A worthwhile quick read. 

(Out of print)

Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

The first of the acclaimed A Scots Quair trilogy. The story of Chris Guthrie and her family in early 20th century Aberdeenshire. She was born into a, probably typical, struggling crofting family and there is much made of the hard-working lives of the era. It is a very Scottish tale and a lot of the speech includes Scots words but they do not overwhelm the narrative and there was a convenient vocabulary in this edition (which I assume would be the norm). Naturally Chris is a strong character, but her life is eventful as other significant people impact her life. Throughout, she remains firmly connected to, and involved with, the community in which she lives. We follow her through her life and loves and the significant impacts of the first world war even in rural north-east Scotland. A very engaging book with strong characterisation. Very readable and I shall be devouring the sequels. No idea why it has taken me so long to get round to reading a book I have had for many years. Might wait a while before moving on to the rest though.

The Black Dress by Deborah Moggach

A very easy read by a popular author and it had a goodly number of twists and turns. It follows the life of Pru after her husband left her when she was 69 years old. This was an ordeal for which she was unprepared, but her friends were supportive and she had her own solution to re-establishing herself. This she developed once she had stumbled upon a dress in a second-hand shop. An unusual strategy evolves and she makes the most of the opportunities that arise therefrom. As usual from Deborah Moggach, a very enjoyable tale with many twists, and an easy, quick read too. 

A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks 

Sub-titled A Novel in Five Parts, this presented me with some problems as I read each of the separate five parts pondering their linkage – but saw I none. In addition nor was anything offered to assist. In fact the five ‘lives’ are all of different characters, in different periods and even different countries. They are just partial biographies of individual people over a period in their lives wherever they are in the world. But I see no reason why they cannot be consumed as that, as short stories. They record a good chunk of their lives and experiences – although none of them I could imagine myself possibly living. Nevertheless they are all eminently interesting and it made a good read.

 

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear 

The first of the author’s Maisie Dobbs novels, given to me as a gift. At the start it’s 1929 and she has just set up as a private detective so I was ready to read a period whodunnit. However, after a few chapters investigating a possible extra-marital relationship, we shoot back to 1910 and find out all there is to know about Maisie Dobbs’ family history and her younger life, leading eventually to her experiences during the first world war. This is certainly a good read in its own right and by the end we seem to have a much better appreciation of her character. However we eventually emerge back in 1929 and the adultery investigation evolves and is now given a war dimension with added intrigue. This investigation comes to an appropriate ending followed by a very surprising personal development that quite threw the impressions I had gained of her during the biographical part. I’ll be reading more of the series. 

On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin

Having recently been on a walk round the Black Hill in Herefordshire I thought I would resurrect my copy of the book. I had read it in 1982 and I recall not being overly impressed. But this time I loved it. The story is of identical twin sons’ lives closely entwined even though this is experienced remotely from time to time. They wore the same clothes, ate the same stuff and shared a bed. Circumstances separate them occasionally but the remaining twin feels what is happening. The narrative takes us through their childhood and also their mother’s second difficult marriage. This strange inter-dependence continues throughout their lives on the family farm right up to their old age when they incline towards bequeathing the farm to a remote child relative so as to continue the bloodline. An excellent book, cleverly written. No wonder it won the Whitbread Prize for a first novel.   

A Guide to Church Woodcarving by J.C.D Smith

An interesting explanation of the many misericords and bench ends carved by the master craftsmen of the Middle Ages in the churches of England and Wales. Well illustrated throughout he explains what the carvings represent and this is often far from obvious. Many reflect sayings, songs or beliefs of those past eras which have long since died out. In addition much of the craft-work is reflective of ignorance. Some carvers had obviously not seen a lion or elephant in real life let alone the various mythical beasts such as Scipods or Wyverns. There are also pictures of mistakes such as upside down initials which are explained as being because the carver was illiterate. These works are across the country but many mentioned are in our immediate marches and neighbouring counties. This book will definitely improve my future visits to churches It will also encourage me to revisit those wonderful misericords at Leintwardine, Ludlow and Canon Pyon. A very useful find.  (Out of print.)

Donald Adams

We Need to Talk About Books, Craven Arms

UnPresidented by Jon Sopel

BBC Washington editor Jon Sopel wrote a diary in the year leading up to the 2020 US election. Very well informed and connected he feels it is too close to call. Biden is underwhelming and invisible for most of the campaign which works in his favour. Although the result was known, I was still caught up in the drama. His observations are hilarious and the antics of the President laugh out loud. The question remains unanswered; why do 48% of Americans voters still support Trump?

A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio

This was part of a gift subscription from my daughter’s favourite bookshop in Tring. The owner rang me for a chat about my reading tastes. She must have thought I was a nightmare but her 3 resulting choices were inspired. This one is Italian. After living the first 13 years of her life as the privileged only child of doting parents, a girl is unexpectedly returned to her impoverished birth parents and siblings. The book covers her struggle to fit in and understand why this has happened. A gripping read. This is Elena Ferrante’s translator and actually very much in the style of The Lying Life of Adults. However I liked it so much more.

I am an Island by Tamsin Calidas

I can’t resist the Scottish books that are promoted in this tiny Edinburgh bookshop. This memoir tells of a couple who leave their London jobs to live as crofters on a remote and desolate Hebridean island. It is not the idyllic retreat they’d imagined. You can feel the wild landscape and weather. It is a brutal existence for them as incomers amongst the resentful island inhabitants. I’d imagined the author as a hardy weather-beaten individual worn down by her experience. Seeing her on a zoom interview (actually with the Tring Bookshop) was a surprise – she is delicate and graceful.

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny

After her previous Gamache novel set in Paris All The Devils Are Here, thank heavens we are back in Three Pines. It is positioned in the present but as post pandemic although I understand that today Canada is still not in such a good place with Covid raging, Alberta in crisis and Trudeau calling an election which was just a very expensive cabinet reshuffle. The themes of this book are euthanasia and eugenics. This impacts Gamache’s family as his granddaughter has Down syndrome. A tad too much of Beauvoir needing a repeated pep talk but glad to learn that Ruth’s duck is in fine fettle!

The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlautin

I loved Andrew Haigh’s film version of Lean on Pete but this is something quite different. Set in Portland, Oregon, it opens as 30 year old Lynette is taking care of her elder brother who has a mental age of about 4. Together with their worn out mother they are renting a house in a quickly regenerating area of the city with an attractive option to buy. The tempo picks up and the action takes place over a few days where Lynette comes to terms with her future and options. An excellent depiction of a city that has changed beyond all recognition in the last 30 years.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Having heard Pat Barker talking about the current popularity of the retelling of Greek myths, I decided to start with the first of what she promises will be more than a trilogy. Convinced I don’t like this stuff, I am always amazed to be immediately hooked. The narrator is Briseis who becomes Achilles’ concubine at the age of 19 as a trophy during the Trojan Wars. She tells the story of the seemingly endless fighting from the viewpoint of the enslaved women in the camp of the Greeks. Many of the stories we think we know are given a different spin. Helen gets only a walk on part in this volume – I suspect that will change in her second book in this genre Women of Troy.

Jenny Newton

Talking about Books, Much Wenlock

As is often the case, my reading has been largely of or about poetry. I should say re-reading – there’s a lot of mileage in a poetry book!

Beethoven Variations by Ruth Padel

Unlike Ruth Padel, I’m unfortunate enough not to be a musician, but on the other hand fortunate enough to have lived for the past 65 years or so with the majority of Beethoven’s works buzzing around in my brain. With such a background, the poems are revelatory and fascinating from the point of view of what a poet can do when writing about music.

 

The Secret Life of Poems by Tom Paulin

Neuron-nudging essays from a poet with great scholarship, with selections from Sir Thomas Wyatt to Jamie McKendrick with many favourites on the way. Like Ruth Padel when talking about poems, he lays great stress on sound, drawing attention to the way words reinforce each other as the sounds ricochet down the stanzas.

 

Poems that Make Grown Men Cry edited by Anthony and Ben Holden.

Very interesting and often moving to read each contributor’s reason for choosing their poem. There’s a wide range of contributors. Many are poets, and there are writers, actors and entertainers too.

 

Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter by Ruth Rendell.

I’m an Inspector Wexford fan, and this one was enthusiastically recommended, I think in the Lit Hub newsletter . We are promised an astonishing dénouement, and as I’m about to read the last chapter, there’s no risk of a spoiler here! I certainly can’t imagine whodunnit even after over 300 pages. So no re-reading of this one – it’ll be off to Oxfam when I’ve finished!

Andrew James

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursual K. Le Guin

I am not a fan of science fiction books but I thought I should give Ursula K. Le Guin a go as I hear her name so often. Originally attracted to the fact that the book was set on a planet called Winter where it is forever snowing and cold (memories of anything similar to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which was my all-time favourite children’s book, gets the thumbs up from me) I thoroughly enjoyed this. This is however not a children’s book.

A special envoy from Earth comes on friendly terms to invite the leaders of Winter to join a consortium of planets. He is met with apprehension and mistrust. I loved the political machinations, the unfolding web of jealousy and mistrust together with some very profound comments from the author on the human condition.

The first half of the book is a slow burn but becomes essential for the second half to work. In the latter it is the evolving relationship of the envoy from Earth with his political foe and their gradual acceptance of each other’s culture which is so fascinating.

Hilary Tilley

Poetry Breakfast and Talking about Books, Much Wenlock

Just four from the many I’ve read this summer. (Except that I am still re-reading, and thoroughly enjoying, the entire Slough House series by the brilliant Mick Herron!)

 

Sea Change by Alix Nathan

I slowly, slowly became more and more engrossed with this tale of identity, power, exploration and religion. Alix Nathan specialises (it seems to me!) in really strange, dark characters and she draws them extremely well. I also loved (though again dark, weird!) The Warlow Experiment, her first novel. I look forward to more.

 

Jonathan, Unleashed by Meg Rosoff

I picked this up from the library display when collecting other books because I loved How I Live Now. Jonathan, Unleashed is just lovely! Tender, funny thoughtful ~ just right for an easy but excellent quick read.

 

Every Last Puffin by Edward Hancox

Fabulous! Such an enjoyable follow on from Iceland, Defrosted but this time visiting islands around the UK coast where adorable, endangered puffins are ~ so far ~ surviving against the odds. Ed’s writing is chatty, informative, self-deprecating and honest. I loved it.

 

Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan

Carol Ann Duffy loved this ~ and she is very sniffy about prose! The story of a deep friendship between Glasgow lads, from teens to adulthood. The first part of the book sets the scene with the lads visiting Manchester for an unforgettable and life-changing weekend of music, alcohol and freedom. The second part explores illness ~ and choices around the complexity of euthanasia. It is tender and (for me) illuminating.

Anna Dreda

Wenlock Books Events

Thank you!

Thank you so much to everyone who contributes to this book blog, and to all our readers ~ thank you for getting in touch to tell me how you like it!

Please let me have your reading recommendations for the October post by 23rd October ~ or (even better!) as soon as you like! 

And looking ahead a little bit, I’d like to include in the November post, the books you most look forward to reading at Christmas time ~ in time for people to buy them! Thank you!

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