For my bookclub in November I read ' A Fine Balance' by Rohinton Mistry. It's quite a chunky book -600 plus pages - but was written so well that you don't really notice this. It is set in 1970s India and follows the difficult lives of three men and one woman against a background of political upheaval. It's very sad but wasn't a depressing book because of the characters' resilience and how they usually find ways of dealing with all difficulties they face. There's a huge cast of eccentric characters - in one review I read, Mistry is described as a kind of Indian Dickens. I can see what this reviewer means. At the bookclub meeting we all loved this one - very unusual.
I have also read several very average books. My husband read and recommended Sebastian Faulks 'Where the Heart Used to Beat'. I was a little disappointed - I never really warmed to the central character and was unconvinced by the big love affair which is central to the plot. The war scenes were well done though - he'd done his research - but it was too obvious rather than feeling integrated within the characters' experiences. Then there were a couple books from the best seller lists. 'Versions of Us' Laura Barnett and 'The Trouble with Sheep and Goats' Joanna Cannon, neither of which was very memorable.
Another more interesting read, again a bookclub choice, 'The City and the City' by China Mieville was hard work to read, not enjoyable as such, but it was worth persevering to unravel the complex plot which was half detective story, half sci-fi. There are two cities and two communities which overlap 'geotopically'. However the residents of each city must not interact and must 'unsee' each other otherwise they will be in trouble with Breach, the ruthless secret police force for the cities.
In January, I'm planning to read Anne Bronte's 'The Tennant of Wildfell Hall', having ignored this particular Bronte in favour of her sisters until now. I watched the BBC drama on Boxing Day - I've forgotten the name- was it 'To Walk Invisible' ? - and this has renewed my interest in this forgotten sister.
I'll also be dipping into my lovely new cookbook 'Home' by Trish Deseine - a Christmas present from NZ sister. It's a beautiful book full of recipes and pictures of Ireland. I'd bought a copy for her birthday last year after hearing a radio review and said I'd like one too. The photography is stunning and the writer includes stories of growing up in County Antrim as well as featuring Irish chefs. The recipes are a familiar mix of old favourites like wheaten bread and buttermilk scones which I don't really need a recipe for and the sort of traybakes that my mother used to make for coffee parties in the church hall.
And a bit of more general news - my new year hasn't started too well as I've managed to chip a bone at the top of my arm having fallen over a duvet left on the floor by one of the teenagers who stayed on New Year's Eve. I didn't know I'd broken anything until five days later when I finally got past the receptionist who'd initially fobbed me off with a physio appointment next week, and saw a GP who sent me to A&E. Spent over 5 hours there watching all the little dramas unfold in front of me - NHS at its best and worst - possible stroke patient waiting for ages but then being treated with real compassion when he was seen. I have to wear this collar and cuff thing and have a 'virtual appointment' tomorrow - someone from orthopaedics will ring me having looked at x-Ray. So can't drive. Or do much housework. Silver lining etc...
|My New Year wardrobe accessory - a lovely piece of pink foam!|
Happy New Year to all - I'm planning to post more frequently this year so keep reading.
I started blogging regularly about books because of the Year in Books posts by Laura at Circle of Pine Trees which you can read more about here. I'm aiming to join her by posting one a month about my reading.