Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend – Katarina Bivald

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend - Katr

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend – Katarina Bivald

This came highly recommended by a friend, so I downloaded it straight away.

Here’s the blurb …

Warning: once you let books into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

This is a book about books. All sorts of books, from Little Women and Harry Potter to Jodi Picoult and Jane Austen, from to Stieg Larsson to Joyce Carol Oates to Proust. It’s about the joy and pleasure of books, about learning from and escaping into them, and possibly even hiding behind them. It’s about whether or not books are better than real life.

It’s also a book about a Swedish girl called Sara, her elderly American penfriend Amy and what happens when you land a very different kind of bookshop in the middle of a town so broken it’s almost beyond repair.

Or is it?

The Readers of Broken Wheel has touches of 84 Charing Cross Road, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Chocolat, but adds an off-beat originality and intelligence all its own.

This is a really sweet book about books and reading – it reminded me a bit of The Collected Works of A J FikrySara, a bit of a lost soul, arrives in Broken Wheel to visit her pen-pal Amy. Unfortunately Amy has died, but the locals are expecting Sara and she ends up staying in Amy’s house. She slowly gets to know the locals and decides everyone’s lives would be better if they just read more (or even just read a book). She sets up a store selling Amy’s books. It is a failure at first, but when town pride is at stake (the local ‘big town’ are scoffing at Broken Wheel having a book store) the local people rally around to make it a success. There is romance, community and creating a sense of belonging.

One of the great things about this novel – apart from all of the book references – is the characters; Poor George, Grace (who comes from a line of rebellious women), Caroline (an extraordinary organiser who has an unexpected romance), Gertrude and May (they remind me of the two men from the Muppets who sat in the balcony and criticised everything) , Tom, Andy and the impossibly handsome Carl.

Another review …

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-readers-of-broken-wheel-recommend-by-katarina-bivald-book-review-finding-solace-far-from-home-10348117.html

 

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Apple Tree Yard – Louise Doughty

Apple Tree Year - Louise Doughty

Apple Tree Year – Louise Doughty

This was a book club booked, which I didn’t read in time. I felt so guilty I read it in time for the next meeting. It is a court room drama – not my normal choice, but that is why you join a book club to read different things.

Here is the blurb …

Yvonne Carmichael sits in the witness box. The charge is murder. Before all of this, she was happily married, a successful scientist, a mother of two. Now she’s a suspect, squirming under fluorescent lights and the penetrating gaze of the alleged accomplice who’s sitting across from her, watching: a man who’s also her lover. As Yvonne faces hostile questioning, she must piece together the story of her affair with this unnamed figure who has charmed and haunted her. This is a tale of sexual intrigue, ruthless urges, and danger, which has blindsided her from a seemingly innocuous angle. Here in the courtroom, everything hinges on one night in a dark alley called Apple Tree Yard.

Yvonne is a terribly unreliable narrator – even at the end I wasn’t sure of her guilt or innocence. That was the point though – trials are about stories and the winner is the side that tell the most convincing story. I also had little to no sympathy for Yvonne – was she really that naive? Or, once again, was it part of the story she was telling? This was a compelling story of lust and deceit (so much lying – to themselves, each other, their spouses, etc.).

I did enjoy reading this and it was a change from my usual reading fare, but I would still prefer my characters to be more likable.

More reviews …

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jun/16/apple-tree-yard-doughty-review

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/review-apple-tree-yard-by-louise-doughty-8679833.html

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Still Life with Bread Crumbs – Anna Quindlen

Still Life with Bread Crumbs - Anna Quindlen

Still Life with Bread Crumbs – Anna Quindlen

Life has got in the way of my book blogging – I have been super busy and then I was ill, but today I am stuck at home (work being done on the house), so I am getting a few things crossed off the job list.

I think this is my first Quindlen novel – I have read an essay she wrote, but this is my first piece of fiction.

Here is the blurb …

Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.
Brilliantly written, powerfully observed, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined.

I found myself getting quite anxious while I read this novel – Rebecca is very concerned about her finances (the idea of being old and poor must be a universal concern), what do the white crosses mean? Who is leaving little shrines in isolated parts of the forest? It is a beautifully written, quiet story about a middle-aged woman whose success is fading, who with a dwindling income is supporting her aging parents financially (and occasionally her son) and  trying to pay the fees on her Central Park apartment, but who rescues herself and finds new artistic direction and a quirky (but supportive) community. This probably all sounds a bit trite, but the writing (beautiful detail and characterisation) make it something quite interesting.

More reviews …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/09/books/review/anna-quindlens-still-life-with-bread-crumbs.html?_r=0

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/29/264553979/anna-quindlen-is-still-the-voice-of-her-generation

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