A Good School by Richard Yates

If somehow, there came a time when I was *forced* to rank the novels of Richard Yates, I would probably place A Good School at the bottom of my list.

A Good School is one of Yates’s later novels and considered the most autobiographical. While his earlier novels focused on the anxieties of modern suburban life, A Good School examines the awkwardness and pain of teenage boy, William Grove.

William is trying desperately to fit into his new boarding school, Dorset Academy. Located in leafy Connecticut, Dorset appears to be a ‘good school’, however it lacks history, prestige and is on the brink of financial collapse –

Dorset Academy had a wide reputation for accepting boys who, for any number of reasons, no other school would touch. Continue reading

Three reviews from Mount TBR

I am really, really trying to finish the Mount TBR reading challenge this year. I generally hit a road block in March as I read the Stella Prize lists, and again in August when the Melbourne Writers Festival provides a lovely distraction and lots of new books. At my current rate, I’ll need to read five books per month from my TBR stack in order to hit the target. It’s doable…

So, three old-school Twitter* reviews of Mount TBR books I’ve read over the last month – Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

01. We had our annual international night with friends last week. This year’s country was Argentina – empanadas, Quilmes, Provoleta, Malbec, big steaks, chimichurri, sweet potato jelly (!) and Argentina’s answer to chocolate ripple cake (before you go rushing to make this cake, know that is was almost unbearably sweet – I’ll stick with the empanadas and grilled cheese). Continue reading

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

There’s no shortage of Holocaust literature, and yet every so often one story rises to the top of the best-seller lists – why is one story more ‘appealing’ than another? I don’t know. Why does one story capture attention over others? I don’t know. The current critics’ favourite is The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.

Morris has recorded the true story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew who was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in April 1942. When the guards at the camp discovered that Lale spoke several languages, he was put to work as a Tätowierer (tattooist), tasked with ‘numbering’ his fellow prisoners.

Day has become night, and still men line up to be numbered for life, be it short or long. Continue reading

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

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 – altered reality, Gatsby, and a reunion

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, all three are samples that have been on my Kindle for years. Continue reading

Nonfiction November – Book Pairings

It’s Nonfiction November, this week hosted by Sarah’s Book Shelves. The task? Pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title.

I had so much fun with this topic last year and although I feared I’d exhausted my ideas, I’ve managed a few more pairings –

Ireland divided – Lost Lives by David McKittrick / Across the Barricades by Joan Lingard Continue reading

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

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

Sweet Caress by William Boyd

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