Title: The Ravenscar Dynasty, The Heirs of Ravenscar and Being Elizabeth
Author : Barbara Taylor Bradford
Rating : 7/10
Great for : keeping you going for a few weeks

I’ve been missing in action for a few weeks as I’ve been reading this trilogy of books which was some 1500 pages.  I read BTB many years ago and she was ok, so I thought these would be a good read.

And they were at the start.  Spanning some 100 years, the story focuses on the Deravenel family and their family firm Deravenels.  Cue many power struggles, love affairs and deaths.  I enjoyed the books less as I progressed through them.

I quite like reading about tussles in business, but the book dealt with this by either having someone murdered and then no investigation or a period of years would just be missed and then one page would cover what had happened, so not enough detail for me.

It was funny how the book progressed from the very prim and proper in the early 1900’s to the year 2000 and beyond.  Have to give BTB credit for adapting really well to that.

Still probably worth a read if you like a number of books about the same people / family.

Anyone else read BTB?  Fan or not?


Title: The Comfort of Strangers
Author : Ian McEwan
ISBN : 978-0-099-75491-6
Rating : 6/10
Great for : passing a couple of hours

The Comfort of Strangers really wasn’t at all what I expected.  The story starts benignly enough – a couple are on holiday in an unnamed European city (which I think from the descriptions must be Venice) and we initially follow their experiences of the city with a dispassionate voyeurism.  They then meet Robert, a local who runs a neighbouring bar.  Things suddenly become rather macabre and sinister, and McEwen closes with a somewhat brutal ending.

Not really my cup of tea but, it’s only 100 pages in length so I’m glad I read it.

Title: South of the Border, West of the Sun
Author : Haruki Murakami
ISBN : 978-0-099-44857-0
Rating : 7/10
Great for : reminiscing about lost love

Another offering from Haruki Murakami, the gentle master of the surreal.  The narrative begins in postwar Japan where Hajime befriends the new girl at school, Shimamoto.  They form a strong bond, feeling the first pangs of adolescent love, but end up being dispatched to different schools and they lose touch. Fast forward fifteen years. Hajime is happily married with two children and runs a successful Jazz Cafe.  All is well it seems, but then the mysterious Shimamoto reappears….

South of the Border, West of the Sun is a strangely beautiful, aching book.  The author expertly guides us through his exploration of love and fidelity, desire and loss.  What I did feel was lacking, compared to Murakami’s other work is character development. Maybe it’s because the novel was relatively short, but somehow most of the characters – apart from the main character – felt quite two dimensional.  Even the mysterious Shimamoto is overly mysterious to the point of being a little flat, a caricature…does that make sense?

Right…I’ve started reading the 650 page Wolf Hall this week and am pleased to report that 115 pages in, I am enjoying it so far!  My arms ache a little though from lifting it up!



February 14, 2010

Title: Genesis
Author : Karin Slaughter
ISBN : 978-1846052026
Rating : 8/10
Great for : keeping you guessing till the end

I’ve not read one of Karin Slaughter’s books for a while after having gone through a stage of reading them to death!  This is her most recent and it didn’t disappoint.

Women are going missing and Faith and Agent Will Trent are on the mission who find out where they are.  Sara Linton pops up again (for those Karin Slaughter regulars out there), though plays a much smaller part in this book.  I can’t say too much without giving the plot away, but if you’re read her books before and enjoyed them, this one won’t disappoint.

It was a bit slow to start off with, but the last 200 pages really gripped me.  Whether I just missed it, I really had no idea until it was revealed who the baddie was.

London Word Festival

February 9, 2010

Running from 7 March until the 1st April, the London Word Festival sounds rather darn good being, by its own description: a pioneering, annual celebration of words, text and language; daring in its approach to cross-artform programming, commissioning new work and exploring non-traditional spaces.

With an appearances from Josie Long on her One Hundred Days to Make Me a Better Person quest to Avant! Noir, a night of criminal fiction set in an art deco, velvet auditorium with loads more in between.

Check it out here!

Review : People of the Book

February 5, 2010

Title: People of the Book
Author : Geraldine Brooks
ISBN : 978-0-00-717742-4
Rating : 7/10
Great for : taking yourself into a few different worlds

People of the Book is a historical novel with a bit of mystery worked in.  Hanna Heath is a rare-book restorer who has been called on to restore an ancient Jewish prayer book, a book which slowly reveals mysteries about where its incredible journey through history.

I did enjoy reading this, though I didn’t find it as absorbing as the author’s earlier work Year of Wonders.  Geraldine Brooks has a wonderful ability to draw you into a different time and place and you really get the feeling that she spends a lot of time researching lots of detailed historical facts so she can work them into the story without it feeling false.

Right, I’ve got to go off and scrub the house! I have a weekend guest and things are looking a bit shabby….oops!