Tag Archives: religion

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

The Little Hammer by John Kelly

DATE FINISHED: July 29th, 2012 

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  When he is 9 years old, the artist despatches a paleontologist he meets on the beach by means of his hammer.  When he returns home, his saint-worshipping Grandmother colludes in covering up the crime, which has remained undiscovered as the artist enters his thirties – but it keeps re-surfacing, with the compulsion to confess jarring against the fact of getting away with murder.  Following a trip with the mysterious Billie Maguire during which the artist is filmed telling a farcical and falsified version of his life story, the statue of the Holy Infant of Prague finds its way to the Grandmother’s home in Ireland.  In her little village, miracles occur just as the artist’s life and mind begin to unravel.

THOUGHTS:  Told in the swirling Irish vernacular of the archetypal storyteller at the bar – “Would you believe me if I told you…?” – one would be forgiven for mistrusting the narrator from the beginning.   Read more of this post

On Loving Josiah by Olivia Fane

DATE FINISHED: June 18th, 2012 

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Eve is a charming, untameable, sexually liberated wild child, with sociopathic tendencies and a psychiatrist who has utterly fallen for her charms. But Eve bears a child to an earthy, grounded gardener, who takes on the responsibility of tending to the young Josiah along with his plants, while Eve continues to float about happily, perhaps manically, upsetting their care workers. Plucked from their care at the age of 7, Josiah is tumbled from foster home to foster home to residential care home, until at the age of 14 he meets classical scholar Thomas and a world of love he has not known opens up to him. This is the story of a boy who has fallen through too many gaps in ‘the system’.

THOUGHTS:  Eve is a wonderfully drawn, extraordinarily vivid and spirited character – perhaps on the cusp of insanity, but perhaps just ‘different’. Thomas’ introspection and academia are equally well realised, although the nature of his love for Josiah makes reading from his perspective a more uncomfortable experience. Read more of this post

After Such Kindness by Gaynor Arnold

DATE FINISHED: June 14th, 2012 

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Margaret is recently married to a good man who – so far – has been understanding of her reluctance to fulfil her wifely duties. Margaret discovers a long-forgotten childhood journal and she suddenly realises that a whole chunk of her childhood memories are missing. The journal takes her back to a delightful summer where she was entertained by the young Rev James Jameson, a friend and colleague of her father’s at Oxford. How could those pleasant days have led to such unpleasant adult nightmares? Margaret is determined to dig out the truth…

THOUGHTS:  Arnold has based this novel, categorically, upon the relationship between Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), and his child-muse Alice Liddell. Read more of this post

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

Oyster by Janette Turner Hospital

DATE FINISHED: April 26th, 2012

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Outer Maroo is a town on the edge of nowhere, not found on any map.  Outer Maroo is suspicious of strangers, and holds a secret beneath its suffocating, rainless sky. One stranger, Oyster, one day found his way beyond the town’s defences, and Oyster’s Reef brought even more strangers into the fold. But the secrets grew, too, and eventually the strangers grew fewer again.

THOUGHTS:   Despite the vast openness of the Australian outback, Oyster projects an intense claustrophobia. Read more of this post

The Judgement of Strangers by Andrew Taylor

DATE FINISHED: October 9th, 2011             

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  When widowed vicar David Bycroft re-marries, his daughter returns home after finishing her exams, and they take in the son of a family friend for a couple of months. The anticipated familial harmony, however, is interrupted by a busybody parishioner, a missing cat, two young and mysterious new locals, and David’s wife’s research into local historical mad priest, Francis Youlgreave.

THOUGHTS:  The second part of the Roth trilogy, this volume is told from the perspective of the minor character from Part 1 who most piqued my interest: David Bycroft. Read more of this post

The Strange Case of the Composer and his Judge by Patricia Duncker

DATE FINISHED: October 8th, 2011             

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  On New Year’s Day of the new millennium, a group of bodies is found in the snow, echoing an earlier group suicide by members of the Faith. The local police detective, Schweigen, is reuinited with an old flame (the Judge of the title) to solve the mystery. When a curious book of undecipherable symbols is discovered near the scene of the crime, the Judge is led to the Composer, an irresistible attraction, and many questions without answers…

THOUGHTS:  The most mysterious thing about this novel was the consistently unprofessional behaviour of the protagonists. Read more of this post

Illusions by Richard Bach

DATE FINISHED: April 23rd, 2011

RATED: ***

SYNOPSIS: Donald Shimoda, has quit his role as Messiah, bored with the crowds who craved miracles but would not listen. Making ends meet by selling short flights in his bi-plane, Richard meets Donald in a field in Illinois, and through their conversations, Richard learns what it is to be the Messiah.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post

The Second Coming by John Niven

DATE FINISHED: April 7th, 2011

RATED: **

SYNOPSIS: God has been on a fishing trip, and when he gets back he’s more than a little pissed off to see the horrors that have been inflicted on the world & humanity in his absence.  Jesus is therefore sent back to earth to rectify some of the damage, and decides that the best way to reach the most people is to compete in America’s most popular TV talent show.

THOUGHTS:  Firstly, I should say that I know I am not this book’s intended target market so I do feel I am being slightly unfair in commenting at all.  However, Read more of this post