Tin Man by Sarah Winman is a simple story about two friends.
Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first meet. Their family circumstances, although very different, become a bonding point and their friendship grows over many years. However, from the beginning of the book, we know that there is a gap in Ellis and Michael’s shared history and the reasons for that break are slowly unravelled.
Winman moves the story back and forth over time, revealing the events that shaped the boys’ friendship. There are a number of twists in this relatively short novel and if I listed them, the story could be perceived as overly dramatic. In fact, it is quite the opposite – it is plausible, gently paced and Winman delivers the blows with a velvet hammer (brace yourself, there are bits to make you cry).
And I wonder what the sound of a heart breaking might be. And I think it might be quiet, unperceptively so, and not dramatic at all. Like the sound of an exhausted swallow falling gently to earth.
I am painfully behind in my reviews – the longer they go unwritten, the less likely it is to happen. These reviews hardly do justice to some of the books I’ve read (sorry Magda) but at the very least provide me with a record. Continue reading
It’s getting to that stage where every spare moment is spent on ‘end-of-year’ stuff, leaving precious little time for writing reviews. I’m taking a short-cut. Continue reading
It was a great risk to read Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins, so soon after I finished the extraordinary Life After Life. It was a risk that paid off.
A God in Ruins is the sequel to Life After Life, but a sequel in the loosest sense. Atkinson turns her focus to Teddy, Ursula’s beloved younger brother and the family darling.
‘Out of all of them, you are my favourite,’ and he knew it was true and felt bad for the others. (It was a relief, Sylvie thought, finally to know what love was.) Continue reading
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.
This week, I discovered two titles after reading this article about cold water swimming and depression, and the book by Lee was chosen because I’ve followed her on Twitter for years. Continue reading
I dither writing reviews for books that I absolutely adored. It’s ludicrous. I should be shouting from the rooftops “EVERYBODY! READ KATE ATKINSON’S LIFE AFTER LIFE! IT’S A MARVEL!”
Atkinson’s carefully constructed story follows Ursula Todd, as she lives and dies over and over again. Ursula’s story begins in England, in 1910, when she dies at birth, the umbilical cord around her neck –
The little heart. A helpless little heart beating wildly. Stopped suddenly like a bird dropped from the sky. A single shot. Darkness fell.
And darkness falls multiple times – drowning, slipping off a roof, illness, gas inhalation, suicide. Continue reading
Claire Fuller has a great feeling for places – forests, the sea and in her latest book, Bitter Orange, crumbling country mansions – it makes her books immersive experiences.
Bitter Orange focuses on Lyntons, a dilapidated English estate. Over the summer of 1969, Frances Jellico, a middle-aged spinster grieving the death of her mother, is tasked with documenting the estate’s garden architecture for its absent American owner – Frances’s specialty is Palladian bridges and she is looking forward to quiet days of sketching the treasures of Lyntons. Continue reading
Do not ask me why I kept reading William Boyd’s Sweet Caress, right up until the stupid end, but welcome to my second one-star review for 2018. I’ll get straight to the point (unlike Boyd).
Sweet Caress is the life story of fictional photographer Amory Clay and it begins in England, in 1908. The novel covers Amory’s childhood, her career as a photographer, her experiences during both World Wars and the Vietnam War, and her relationships. It’s astounding that a book about a female in an unconventional role (war photographer), could be so, so boring, Continue reading