Tag Archives: love story

Habits of the House by Fay Weldon

habits of the house, fay weldonDATE FINISHED: August 1st, 2013 

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  During a stay in London’s Belgrave Square, the Hedleigh family suddenly find themselves on the brink of bankruptcy, due to an unfortunate investment gone awry, not to mention a variety of gambling debts courtesy of the Earl… The daughter of the house is an ardent feminist and has declared herself out of the marriage market, so the only thing for it is for the charming but ineffectual son of the family, Arthur, to pull himself together and marry money – quickly!  The Countess and her maid work both together and against each other to bring about a ‘happy’ union with a visiting heiress (with a scandal in her past); but will Arthur’s preference for laid-back living and his sister’s horror at his mildly amoral proclivities scupper the grand plan to save the family?

THOUGHTS:  A comedy of manners both above and below stairs, I thoroughly enjoyed this period romp. Read more of this post

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Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville

sarah-thornhillDATE FINISHED: July 26th, 2013 

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  Set in Australia a generation beyond its first convict settlers (a story told in Grenville’s The Secret River), Sarah Thornhill and Jack Langland grow up knowing that they belong together. But their families’ pasts turn out to be inextricably intertwined with the present and the couple is forced apart by circumstances beyond their control. Sarah settles for marriage to a good man she does not love, but her story is far from over…

THOUGHTS:  Told from Sarah’s perspective, I felt as a result that there was a lot missed out of this narrative.   Read more of this post

How to Forget by Marius Brill

DATE FINISHED: August 6th, 2012 

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Mr Magicov makes a living by entertaining the old folks of Christchurch after a children’s party once went drastically awry and irrevocably altered his career path. Kate Minola, a magician’s daughter, is a career confidence trickster on the run from the FBI. When their paths unexpectedly cross, Kate promises Peter (Magicov) revenge on his own nemesis, and a share of a million pounds – but can he really trust a woman who has spent her life specialising in the long con?

THOUGHTS:  This book would make a great movie, Read more of this post

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

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

All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

DATE FINISHED: July 28th, 2012 

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  On their wedding night, Tom becomes invisible to his wife, The Perfectionist. After six months of waiting for Tom’s return, The Perfectionist buys a plane ticket and a new apartment in a new city. Invisibly, Tom sits next to his wife throughout the plane journey trying to think of ways to make her see him. Time is running out – will he discover his own superhero power in time?

THOUGHTS:  At first glance, this is a not very subtle but quirkily humorous story about the characters we build in order to survive everyday life. A superhero power exists for every strategy, defence, and pigeonhole Read more of this post

Eucalyptus by Murray Bail

DATE FINISHED: July 20th, 2012 

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  Holland has planted his land with every variety of eucalyptus he can get his hands on – over five hundred in total. As his daughter reaches marriageable age, he decides that only the man who can correctly name all of his eucalypts will be good enough to take her hand. News of Ellen’s beauty and Holland’s challenge travel far and wide, but it is only when one suitor shows clear signs that he will accomplish this task that Ellen begins to worry – especially as she has recently met a stranger whose odd stories have somehow got under her skin…

THOUGHTS:  This is, of course, a fairy tale. But the characters are more than archetypes, the landscape lives and breathes, and the story is compelling. Read more of this post

Burning Bright by Helen Dunmore

DATE FINISHED: June 25th, 2012 

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  When her parents move to Germany with their other daughter (who has cerebral palsy & needs their care), 16 year old Nadine moves to London with her older boyfriend Kai.  Also living in the house are Kai’s business partner Tony, and sitting tenant Enid, way up in the attic.  While Nadine buries her head in the sand with regard to Kai and Tony’s line of work, she spends time with Enid and her pre-war stories of life in Manchester with the beautiful Sukey and jealous Caro (who was jailed for Sukey’s murder).  But it seems only a matter of time before the fragile structure of their lives falls apart…

THOUGHTS:  Nadine is a wilfully naive character and difficult to relate to despite being easy to read. Read more of this post

Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith

DATE FINISHED: June 22nd, 2012 

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Anthea can’t find any enthusiasm for the Pure corporation for whom her increasingly thin sister Midge has found her work. She is fascinated, though, by the mysterious messages that have begun to be graffiti-d around town and the person who paints them. That the person is a girl doesn’t phase Anthea in the slightest, and she is happy to sink into a mutually joyful relationship with Robin who regales her with the story of the boy-girl/girl-boy from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Iphis. Midge is horrified, but when Pure reveals itself as less than, she is forced to re-evaluate everything.

THOUGHTS:  Released as one of the Canongate Myths series (in which established authors re-write old myths for a new audience), Smith has written a wonderful love story that captures the happiness of Ovid’s original whilst relating it to utterly contemporary themes. Read more of this post

Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson

DATE FINISHED: June 22nd, 2012 

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Orphaned Silver is apprenticed to lighthousekeeper Pew, and in the darkness of the lighthouse she finds stories hang in the air like seaspray. From Pew she learns about Babel Dark, the minister son of the man who built the lighthouse, and his own haunted tale of love and duality. And eventually Silver follows the trail to find a love of her own.

THOUGHTS:  Winterson’s musical prose weaves back and forth through time, painting vivid pictures of darkness and light, past and present but avoiding extraneous detail: a watercolour wash of dreamlike images. Read more of this post