People who eat darkness, Richard Lloyd Parry
Why would I want to read a book marked by tragedy from the start? A young British woman disappears in Japan, the newspapers reported extensively on the case (though I wasn’t aware of it). How much is there to say?
But the writing pulls you in. And while Parry goes on a fair about supplementary characters like Lucie’s mother, they are all interesting stories.
Sometimes I lie, Alice Feeney
Like In a Dark Dark Wood, this one tries too hard to be a thriller. Is it possible for a thriller to have too many twists. Apparently, it is. I didn’t care about the characters but just kept reading to find out. And then, I had to Goodle to understand the ending, which is not a good sign.
So irritated was I by this novel that I had to read some academic papers as a palate cleanser.
The Women’s Room , Marilyn French
OMG this. All of it.
The Women’s Room is the third of my triumvirate of feminist novels from the 70s and for some reason, possibly the literalness of the title, I thought it would be the most meh, so I kept it for last. Turns out I had saved the best for last.
This is like a go-to on how to write a feminist novel – so many feminist issues (okay pertaining to white women of the 50s, 60s and 70s, but I’ve kind of realised upper caste Indian women share many of those concerns) given living, breathing human form.
French presents one of the most unsentimental description of pregnancy I have ever come across. Reading about the birth of the protagonist Mira’s first child was traumatic
Is marriage destined to be like this in some form?
Why doesn’t Natalie leave Hamp? Why don’t we all?
Don’t tell Alfred, Nancy Mitford
Here she achieves what she was striving towards in the last two novels – perfection of tone and cutting satire.
Again, although this novel was written in the 60s about aristocratic British Society, I found something to resonate with. Just when I was worrying about my kids, Fanny has the same dilemmas about whether the kids are all right.
The Splendor Before the Dark, Margaret George
This is the second book in George’s duet about the roman emperor Nero (I hadn’t yet read the first). I only knew of Nero as a tyrant, but George sheds a different light on his character, what his perspective might have been on events he was maligned for. It opens with a different take on the epithet that many of us might be familiar with – that Nero “fiddled while Rome burned”.
This was just the right length and well written, making be resolve to read the first book.
Force of Nature, Jane Harper
Better than Laura Lippman. Nuff said.
The Girl in the Green Raincoat, Laura Lippman
This was more novella than novel. It was weird to see detective Tess Monoghan, one of whose defining characteristics is her penchant for exercise and eating, home bound and on a strict diet. We don’t hear of her bouncing ponytail once. My least favourite of the series.
Hush Hush, Laura Lippman
On the other hand this was really excellent. If the Green Raincoat was simple, this one was complex. The theme running through was mothers – Tess as a working mother, the two mothers in the case she’s dealing with, her aunt Kitty’s relationship with motherhood.
Loved it, and can’t believe this is the last Tess Monoghan book.
My Sister the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithewaite
Read my thoughts on the chick lit blog here.
Grief is a Thing with Many Feathers, Max Porter
This is poetry in novel form. Not as sad as I thought but maybe that’s Crow’s influence. Feel quite smirky that I got the Crow (Ted Hugh’s, not Laura Lippman’s) reference from the start.
I was surprised to read the bio at the end and discover that Porter has a living wife. Some people are just geniuses, I guess, and do not need to live what they write.
The Chase, Elle Kennedy
The Risk, Elle Kennedy
I am only a little sheepish about admitting that I am hooked on this series. Thoughts on the chick lit blog here.
This is My Life, Meg Wolitzer
Didn’t love this from the start as I have tended to with her other novels
Somehow I didn’t get into the characters as much. The character I liked the most Erica, the older, fat sister was floating through two thirds of the novel
I really liked the last third
This is a very female-centric novel – a mother and her two daughters and two of these characters are fat and it is dealt with (each of them takes a different approach to it, it’s interesting).
Speaking of fat, listen to this podcast.
Still House Lake, Rachel Caine
Not bad. Well paced with decent characters. Just that, like many of these popular thrillers, it was just too much. And also, the end was so written with a sequel in mind.
Fleishmann is in Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner
The thing that confused me is that this was described as a feminist novel. How could it be feminist if the whole thing is told froM a mams perspective ?
Maybe she was trying to flip the narrative so we sympathize – some kind of defsmoliarisation thing, some joke on the men who wouldn’t have picked up a novel entitled “Libby is in trouble”, or they’d put down the novel in 20 pages because they couldn’t bear to listen to a woman “whining”
But I wouldn’t have. I was a teeny bit bored of Toby .
Or maybe Libby + Rachel = Toby but no, the novel was set up as Toby-centric and we were set up to dislike Rachel.
But if not feminist, this is a novel about marriage About how marriage is an impossible project because it expects people to stay the same
My dear English Lit prof in college said to this us once and I remember both thinking “that’s not very profound” and “that’s not going to happen to me”. Because it’s not everyone sells you the idea that’s marriage Is wonderful – most of us saw our parents marriagr firsthand – but that we think we’d be the exception, don’t we?
By the end of the novel, it turns out that doing a riff on a Norman Mailer/Philip Roth kind of thing, which feature the preoccupations of an angsty, divorced white guy, is exactly what she was trying to do, so okay. Even though I didn’t find it completely convincing. Did she manage to redeem Rachel? I didn’t think so initially, but now when I think of Rachel, I not only don’t think of her as a bitch, I think of myself.
Although Libby’s the one I should have identified with but throughout her soliloquy I kept thinking – woman you need a job!