Category Archives: Hanif Mohammed

May Retrospective

A summary of the books I read in May, with links to reviews:

Gillespie and I by Jane Harris – 3/5
The story of a soured friendship in the art world of Victorian Glasgow.  After a promising start, I’m afraid this was a bit of a damp squib.

The Grifters by Jim Thompson – 4/5
A career conman takes a beating that forces him to reassess his life.  This was a quick read but unexpectedly poignant.

The Voices by Susan Elderkin – 3.5/5
The spirits of the Australian outback try to make themselves heard in this wonderfully evocative piece of prose.  The writing is lively, poetic and original but the themes became a little too heavy-handed for my taste.

Rhumba by Elaine Proctor – 3.5/5
A sad and hopeful story about the bleak world of human trafficking, and the need to find somebody to love.  It has a curious sense of distance from reality and is night quite as powerful as it should be.

The Adventures of Vaclav the Magnificent & His Lovely Assistant Lena by Haley Tanner – 3.5/5
An inseparable friendship between an aspiring magician and his lovely assistant comes to an abrupt end when Lena disappears.  Strong characters drive this story of immigrants in America.

We have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – 4/5
Not a brooding, suspenseful or spooky gothic thriller; but it is a short book, and the writing is fun, dark, magical, enjoyable – a great evening’s read!

BOOK OF THE MONTH:
Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi – 4/5
Stories within stories, slipping times and locations, where do memories and fantasies collide and divide?  A wonderfully original love story covering Bluebeard, escapism, storytelling and more.

Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif – 4/5
Oops, was supposed to be saving this for my holiday reading… :S  An unexpectedly disturbing story that was not at all the lighthearted romp I expected.  An uncomfortable but thought-provoking read.

The Dream Room by Marcel Moring – 4/5
Re-read to refresh my memory.  Although a little cliched in structure, it is a quietly haunting story of wartime and beyond.

English Passengers by Matthew Kneale – 4/5
A wonderful narrative journey carried by great characterisation, and managing just the right balance between heart-wrenching historical fact and essential comic relief.

The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi – 3/5
I had mixed feelings about this one.  A compelling soap opera of Greek island life; but I felt it lacked the necessary tension to be fully successful as a mystery.

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Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif

DATE FINISHED: May 20th, 2012

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  Alice Bhatti, recently of borstal, has somehow talked her way into a nursing job at the Sacred Heart Hospital (possibly due to being the only applicant), where she finds herself the unexpected object of devotion for young bodybuilding police ruffian Teddy Butt, more at home with a gun than with poetry. Alice’s father Joseph has the  mystical ability to cure stomach ulcers; but Alice has the less welcome ‘gift’ of seeing death in the faces of those she meets.

THOUGHTS: At first I found the narrative quite entertaining as we joined Alice on the day of interview for her nursing job, and simultaneously, Teddy massacres his own thumb so that the police can ‘justifiably’ arrest someone for a previous crime.   Read more of this post

Just a few words on paper

Any man who reaches for a book when he thinks of you is a man that you should think about. 

from Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif

Between books

I spent much of yesterday picking up books from my TBR, reading a couple of chapters, then deciding I really wasn’t in the mood.  Got a bit annoyed with myself, so cobbled together the little icon below from some random clip art as a ‘between books’ logo rather than keep changing my ‘Currently reading’ image over and over.  Of course, after yesterday’s frustrations, I am now happily settled into my current read – having allowed myself early reading of one of my saved-for-summer titles.  And now I get the fun of choosing something else to add to/save for my summer reading pile, so it’s all good, really. [:)]