Tag Archives: grief

The Blue Book by A.L. Kennedy

DATE FINISHED: August 3rd, 2012 

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  Beth and Derek are on a cruise – the youngest people aboard by far. Derek has planned to propose but is miserable and confined to his cabin with seasickness, instead. Beth wanders the decks and meets up with Arthur, a successful fraudulent psychic. It soon becomes clear their meetings are not the result of chance: Beth and Art have a secret history, but what is the truth of it (and them) and will their future be together or apart?

THOUGHTS:  I found this book quite infuriating. Read more of this post

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The Waterproof Bible by Andrew Kaufman

DATE FINISHED: July 30th, 2012 

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  Rebecca has suffered since the day she was born with an overwhelming and uncontrollable ability to project her emotions – an issue she has finally resolved with a handy storage unit containing boxes of mementos, which keeps her excess emotions in check.  On the day of her sister Lisa’s funeral she suddenly realises she has lost touch with some of her feelings which she desperately needs and she realises it is time to deal with her issues – but how?  Aby is a little green around the gills.  Raised as a staunch Aquatic (the religion of an underwater civilisation which evolved following the Flood) she is breathing air for the first time as she crosses the country in a stolen car, on a mission to ‘rescue’ her landlocked, heretical mother Elizabeth before the opportunity is gone.  Elizabeth is running a little-visited hotel in the mountains aided only by Stewart, who in his spare time is building a boat and taking phonecalls from his troubled ex, Rebecca.  Oh, and Lisa’s husband Lewis has met a woman who tells him she is God, but God’s voice is not quite what he might have expected, and has some unforeseen effects…

THOUGHTS:

Stewart got out of the truck and walked into the wheat field he’d parked beside.  The stalks grew higher the deeper into the field he went. He continued walking. The stalks were slightly taller than his waist, but he still didn’t know what to say.

While overwhelming emotions is a problem most of us can already empathise with, it takes a little more suspension of belief to take at face value an Aquatic race living alongside our own Read more of this post

Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice

DATE FINISHED: July 24th, 2012 

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  When Kellyanne’s imaginary friends disappear, she quickly slides into a mysterious illness. Although big brother Ashmol has never believed in Pobby and Dingan himself, he decides that the only way to cure her is to get the rest of their small mining town out looking for the missing invisibles, to prove to Kellyanne that people care. But will the plan work?  At the same time, their father is accused of ‘ratting’ at the local opal mines, and must contend with a swell of local opinion against him as his daughter wastes away before his eyes…

THOUGHTS:  Although on the surface this is a sentimental premise, Rice neatly avoids cliché in its telling. Read more of this post

Something Beginning With by Sarah Salway

DATE FINISHED: March 29th, 2012

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Naïve social misfit Verity Bell is concerned about many minor and major issues in her life, such as her leering boss, and her best friend Sally’s affair with a married man. Everything changes when she acquires a relationship of her own with an equally married man, with whom she knows she has found the secret to love and happiness. Although he is suddenly more reluctant to leave his wife, and increasingly finds fault in little things Verity knows she can change… Of course she is not in denial!

THOUGHTS:  You would be forgiven for assuming from the cover artwork and synopsis that this is just another frothy, throwaway chick-lit novel. It isn’t. Read more of this post

The Limits of Enchantment by Graham Joyce

DATE FINISHED: October 14th, 2011             

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Fern has been raised by the village midwife, Mammy, assisting at births since her early teens and catching glimpses of Mammy’s magic as she prepares folk remedies for those who don’t quite trust the NHS. But when a young girl who has visited Mammy for help dies soon afterwards, scandal and gossip runs rife in the village, and Mammy’s own health goes into rapid decline. Fern is left to cope with her grief over Mammy, the prospect of eviction, and the discovery of her own gifts and calling; but who can she trust to help her through?

THOUGHTS:  Although it sounds trite in synopsis, The Limits of Enchantment is surprisingly engaging and thought-provoking in the telling. Read more of this post

Mr. Vertigo by Paul Auster

DATE FINISHED: October 5th, 2011             

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  9 year old Walt is plucked from the streets of St. Louis by the mysterious Master Yehudi, and promised that he will be taught how to fly. At a farm in Kansas, Walt is put through a tortuous 33 step program but his sharp wit sees him through, and after he stops fighting, realises that for the first time he is in the midst of a family that loves him. But with flight achieved and showbusiness stardom beckoning, is the future really as bright as it seems?

THOUGHTS:  On one level, I really enjoyed this book. Walt and Master Yehudi are great characters, and the story sucked me in immediately. Read more of this post

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

DATE FINISHED: September 25th, 2011             

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Four teenagers from St. Vincent’s Home for Boys are singled out by small-time crook Frank Minna, and together perform whatever dubious tasks are set them with a sense of pride: they are the Minna Men.  When Minna is murdered, Lionel Essrog (Tourette’s sufferer, social outcast and general figure of fun), is determined to find out who is responsible, and why.  Figuring out who he can trust is another matter altogether…

THOUGHTS:  Told from Lionel’s point of view, this story is as much about the workings of a tourettic mind as it is a murder mystery; not to mention a great excuse for Lethem to play with the sounds and structures of language through Lionel’s tics.   Read more of this post

The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

DATE FINISHED: September 4th, 2011

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  Golden – as a member of a small Mormon sect – has 4 wives, 28 children, and a growing feeling that his life is out of his own control.  While working away, he embarks upon an affair with the wife of his boss, which becomes the catalyst for the world as he has known it falling apart.  Can he glue it back together again, and does he really want to?

THOUGHTS:  Golden as a character is good-natured, world weary and physically tired.  He allows his wives to schedule his life, yet with being forced to work 200 miles away barely sees any of his enormous family, even in the brief times he is physically present.  It is easy to feel sympathy for him.  Yet as the 600-page story progresses and the wives and (some of) the children are fleshed out, sympathy for Golden wavers Read more of this post

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

DATE FINISHED: September 2nd, 2011

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Twins Miranda and Eliot live in a house that is haunted by generations, a house with its own way of getting its own way.  Eliot seems immune to the ghosts they live with, but following the death of their mother, Miranda sees and hears more and more of them and her own existence becomes proportionally less and less.  Which family will claim her – the living or the dead?

THOUGHTS:  Oyeyemi’s prose style will not be to everyone’s taste, Read more of this post

No and Me by Delphine de Vigan

DATE FINISHED: August 19th, 2011

RATED: ***

SYNOPSIS:  A schoolgirl with a high IQ and a mother in deep depression, befriends a homeless girl for a school project, but soon finds she is out of her depth.

THOUGHTS:  I think if I had read this book as a teenager I would have loved it.   Read more of this post