Sample Saturday – two thrillers and a spy story

Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye. Continue reading

Advertisements

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett


No secret that I love the Royal Family. And I love stories about books. Stands to reason then, that Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader was a smashing success for me.

The story is simple – late in Her Majesty’s life, she discovers a love for reading. This new hobby is somewhat annoying for her staff because she’d rather be reading than cutting ribbons/ giving speeches/ opening buildings.

…she had begun to perform her duties with a perceived reluctance: she laid foundation stones with less élan and what few ships there were to launch she sent down the slipway with no more ceremony than a toy boat on a pond, her book always waiting. Continue reading

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

I’m trying not to let my MWF-JCO experience influence my thoughts on Oates’s much-admired family saga, We Were the Mulvaneys.

The story of the Mulvaney family spans twenty-five years and is told from the perspective of the youngest son, Judd. In the beginning, the family is blessed – a successful business, a sprawling farm property (with ponies), and popular children (a cheerleader, a football star and a science-whiz-kid). A single incident becomes a turning point in the fortunes of the Mulvaneys and bit by bit, everything (and everyone) falls apart.

There were exquisite nuggets of truth in JCO’s words that stopped me in my tracks, words that got to the heart of a matter so succinctly that I couldn’t help but admire her deftness – ‘Nothing between humans is uncomplicated’ and ‘But you can’t disappoint me because I don’t love you’ and ‘There are different kinds of homesickness to fit different kinds of families.Continue reading

The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida

Despite the fact that The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida is written in the second-person (because truly, YOU would think YOU would want to put hot pokers in YOUR eyes reading so many YOUS), this slip of a novel hooks YOU from the outset.

You’re still wet from the rain. You should have brought an umbrella. A psychiatrist friend of yours once told you that a telltale sign of a mentally unstable person is she’s never dressed appropriately for the weather. Continue reading

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout hardly needs introduction – it extends some of the characters mentioned in My Name Is Lucy Barton, and is structured much like Olive Kitteridge – interconnected short stories, to be read in order (some stories are resolved through other characters’ chapters later in the book, so you do need to read sequentially). It’s not necessary to read Lucy Barton first (or at all) in order to enjoy Anything is Possible but I reckon the book is enhanced by knowing Lucy’s story.

Despite the focus on the interior lives of individual people in small town America, Strout addresses two universal themes in Anything is Possible – that we are shaped by our past, and that we all want to be heard. Each character gives a different perspective on these themes, and the result is subtlety layered (without once feeling repetitive or contrived).

She did not say, and only fleetingly did she think: And you have always taken up so much space in my heart that it has sometimes felt to be a burden. Continue reading