The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

So, this is weird – I finished The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters last week and today, as I sat down to write a review, I realised that I have no recollection of how the story ended. This means one of two things – either I have some serious memory issues or the ending wasn’t a particularly good one. I’m going with the later.

It’s 1922, and in South London, in a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants, life is transformed for widowed Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances when they are forced to take in lodgers – to ‘make ends meet’.

Frances and her mother sat with books at the French windows, ready to eke out the last of the daylight – having got used, in the past few years, to making little economies like that. Continue reading

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The Lake House by Kate Morton

When I saw the author Rosalie Ham speak earlier this year, she mentioned that she never reads novels while she is writing one – the reason being, she becomes highly attuned to structure and spots plot tricks everywhere. She used the example of a novel beginning with a husband making mention that he loves his wife – Ham’s first thought is “Well, she’ll be dead by the end of this book!”

I was reminded of Ham’s comment as I slogged through 593 pages of Kate Morton’s The Lake House. It’s a dual mystery, yo-yoing between the 1930s and 2003 – there’s lots of complicating family secrets and missing (possibly dead) people. With Ham’s words in the back of my mind, Morton’s mentions of this, that and the other* were like beacons, alerting me to exactly how things would play out. Continue reading

20 Books of Summer (except that it’s winter)

books-for-challenge

Cathy at 746 Books is hosting the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge again this year. I’m going to join in, with a particular effort to read from my stacks of physical books (as opposed to e-books).

There’s no better time to curl up with a book than winter. Because it’s winter in Melbourne. So while Cathy et al. is enjoying the Irish sunshine along with twenty selected books, I’ll be rugging up  (I wonder if in fact my winter will be the equivalent of an Irish summer? Perhaps I’ll post the weather forecast for the day I finish each book to compare…). Continue reading

‘The Secret Keeper’ by Kate Morton

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton is a big book, just shy of six hundred pages. It kept me guessing until the very, very end – quite a feat by Morton, no?

The Secret Keeper begins with a crime, witnessed by a young girl, Laurel. It’s got shades of Ian McEwan’s Atonement – innocent eyes making sense of what they’ve seen. 

Fifty years later, Laurel sets out to unravel the truth of the crime and from there the story shifts between three different times –  the 1930s, the 1960s and the present, and is told from the perspective of Laurel and three other people – Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy. It’s billed (fairly) as a tale of “…mysteries and secrets, theatre and thievery, murder and enduring love“. Continue reading

Yay! ‘The Secret Keeper’ Giveaway!

Thanks to the very lovely people at Allen & Unwin, I have two proof copies of the latest from Kate Morton, The Secret Keeper.

Here’s the blurb:

1961: On a sweltering summer’s day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can’t wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.

2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds – Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy – who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined.

Shifting between the 1930s, the 1960s and the present, The Secret Keeper is a spellbinding story of mysteries and secrets, theatre and thievery, murder and enduring love.

Sounds ace, doesn’t it?! Continue reading