Category Archives: Ryman Geoff

Oops – almost forgot the April Retrospective!

A summary of the books I read in April (which turned out to be an excellent month!), with links to reviews:

The Flying Man by Roopa Farooki – 4/5
A surprisingly touching and thought-provoking ‘retrospective’ of a career conman – not at all what I expected.

Small Island by Andrea Levy – 4/5
Re-read as this was the book I chose to give away for World Book Night. A very warm & rewarding story of immigrants settling in London after the war; far more satisfying than the author’s more recent The Long Song.

The Manual of Darkness by Enrique de Heriz – 3.5/5
The story of a magician who must come to terms with a sudden blindness. Lots of interesting aspects.

JOINT BOOK OF THE MONTH: 
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson – 4.5/5
Annie and Buster (Child A and Child B) have grown up playing integral roles in their parents’ performance artwork. As young adults they are trying to find their own places in the world; but when their parents suddenly disappear, everything is once more thrown into disarray. Really enjoyed this.

Was by Geoff Ryman – 4/5
The ‘true’ story of a little girl called Dorothy Gale, growing up in a bleak Kansas of the 1870s, and the repercussions over the next century and beyond. Several intertwining stories; a fascinating read.

JOINT BOOK OF THE MONTH: 
Oyster by Janette Turner Hospital – 4.5/5
A small town in the Australian outback (once the home to an enigmatic, charismatic stranger called Oyster, and his followers) holds more secrets than you might imagine. A claustrophobic, and beautifully written story – one of my longest-standing TBRs, it was definitely worth the wait!

The Angel of Brooklyn by Janette Jenkins – 3.5/5
The Angel of Brooklyn is the star of Coney Island until she is whisked away by Lancashire Lad Jonathan, to the small village of Anglezarke. When all the men from the village sign up to do their bit for ‘the Great War’, tensions rise among the women they leave behind. It’s a light-ish read that didn’t quite hit the mark for me, but enjoyable nonetheless.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon – unfinished
I got hold of a paperback copy of this (one of my longest-standing TBRs) in case it was the heft of the hardback copy that was putting me off.  I read & enjoyed a couple of chapters but it has once more been consigned to the future TBR pile.  Just not in the right frame of mind for this one, currently

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Was by Geoff Ryman

DATE FINISHED: April 23rd, 2012

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Orphaned Dorothy Gael is raised by her Aunt and Uncle in a bleak Kansas farmhouse of the 1870s.  Her unhappy life is filled with thankless chores, society visits with Aunty Em, the long trek to school, and the unwanted attentions of Uncle Henry.  Only substitute teacher Frank offers any hope of salvation, through the power of imagination.  Interwoven with Dorothy’s story is that of young Frances Gumm, later to become Judy Garland immortalising Dorothy in glorious technicolour, as well as that of a young man called Jonathan who becomes obsessed with Dorothy as his own life slips away.

THOUGHTS:   This novel is at its strongest when focusing on the past, the land of Was.   Read more of this post