It has taken me forever to get around to finishing this post. I started it ages ago and then lost part of it, and after a successful month of reading in April, I haven't quite got round to writing it and now I realise it is nearly the end of May. I partly blame the fact that I am plodding through a book that I'm not really loving, and it has curbed my enthusiasm somewhat. However, April was filled with some fabulous reads, so hopefully finally getting this published will reignite my enthusiasm!
“The early days of any relationship are punctuated with a series of firsts - first sight, first words, first laugh, first kiss, first nudity, etc., with these shared landmarks becoming more widely spaced and innocuous as days turn to years, until eventually you're left with first visit to a National Trust property or some such.”
I really enjoyed this, the main character almost reminded me of Don from The Rosie Project in twenty years time. A brilliant combination of a tour through Europe, descriptions of art, and a great plot. I can heartily recommend this book, and thought it was wonderful, a very believable account of a family at a critical juncture, with superb characters.
“Olivia Joules liked hotels. She liked hotels because: When you went into a new hotel room there was no past. It was like drawing a line and starting again. Hotel life was almost Zen-like in its simplicity: a capsule wardrobe, capsule living. No debris, no nasty clothes you never wore but couldn't throw away, no in-tray, no dishes full of leaky pens and Post-it notes with chewing gum stuck to them. Hotels were anonymous."
In early April I was having a few sleepless nights. When it gets particularly bad (thankfully not often) rather than lie in bed mulling things over I take myself downstairs and dig out a book. I tend towards ones that I have read before, that aren't too taxing, but that have enough of a plot to keep me engaged, and on this occasion this one was the book of choice. I've read this a few times over the years, and find it quite funny, with the brilliant ability to satirise life that Helen Fielding has. It is a little dated now in terms of the plot, but it did the trick and The Husband came downstairs to find me asleep under a blanket on the sofa in the study.
“He liked the idea of coffee quite a lot—a warm drink that gave you energy and had been for centuries associated with sophisticates and intellectuals. But coffee itself tasted to him like caffeinated stomach bile.”
The plot had the potential to be interesting, but I found the writing style really grating. The author (John Green who wrote A Fault in Our Stars) put footnotes on every page explaining foreign terms, mathematical equations and specific facts that he had included in the text and it became really distracting. As well as constantly looking to the footnotes, it gave the sense that the author was constantly trying to show the breadth of his knowledge and it really spoiled the book for me. It seemed quite a jarring way to include the information in the narrative, and drew me away from what was otherwise a good plot. Added to the main character being a prodigy who was particularly keen on doing anagrams, it just felt like one long display of skills and information, and wasn't that enjoyable.
“Your hope lies in accepting your life as it now lies before you, forever changed. If you can do that, the peace you seek will follow. Forever changed.”
After the previous book, I wasn't as enthused about starting this, another novel written about teenagers finishing school. As it was I thought it was brilliant, some great writing, and really gripping. I liked the shifting narrators, and the story. Also, I can highly recommend reading the author notes at the end of the book, I actually read them down the phone to my mum, weeping as I did!
“This was how it could be done. This was how you lived with a terrible secret. You just did it. You pretended everything was fine. You ignored the deep, cramplike pain in your stomach. You somehow anesthetized yourself so that nothing felt that bad, but nothing felt that good either.”
Another brilliant pick by The Husband. I don't know what I expected from the cover, but this book was so much more than I anticipated. A really engaging read, with lots of intertwining storylines, and darkly witty in places. I thought at first it might be tricky to follow, but the characters were so clearly written that it was easy to keep up with the switching plots. I will definitely look out for more of this author's work.
My first (and only) book so far in May has been To The Edge of the Sky by Anhua Gao. As I hinted at the start I'm battling with this one, so it will likely be a much shorter, but hopefully earlier, post next month!
Linking up with Laura's The Year in Books project.