Love May Fail – Matthew Quick
I loved reading The Good Luck of Right Now it was one of my favourite books of 2014 and so I was super-keen to read this one. I even managed to find a copy at the Rottnest General Store.
Here is the blurb …
Portia Kane is having a meltdown. After escaping her ritzy Florida life and her cheating pornographer husband, she finds herself back in South Jersey, a place that remains largely unchanged from the years of her unhappy youth. Lost and alone, looking for the goodness she believes still exists in the world, Portia sets off on a quest to save the one man who always believed in her—and in all of his students: her beloved high school English teacher, Mr. Vernon, who has retired broken and alone after a traumatic classroom incident.
Will a sassy nun, an ex-heroin addict, a metal-head little boy, and her hoarder mother help or hurt Portia’s chances on this quest to resurrect a good man and find renewed hope in the human race? Love May Fail is a story of the great highs and lows of existence: the heartache and daring choices it takes to become the person you know (deep down) you are meant to be.
Mr Quick is one of the only authors I know who writes about mental illness in a funny and generous manner. I didn’t like this one as much as The Good Luck of Right Now, hardly surprising given how much I liked that one. Portia ultimately just seemed whiny. I wanted her to just leave poor Mr Vernon alone. This novel is about being kind and looking after each other, but it didn’t really work for me and I was a bit disappointed.
More reviews …
The Job – Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
I really like Ms Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels (although they are all the same), so when a friend lent me this one I was happy to give it a go.
Here’s the blurb …
Charming con man Nicolas Fox and dedicated FBI agent Kate O’Hare secretly take down world’s most-wanted and untouchable felons, next job Violante, the brutal leader of a global drug-smuggling empire. The FBI doesn’t know what he looks like, where he is, or how to find him, but Nick knows his tastes in gourmet chocolate.
From Nashville to Lisbon back alleys, from Istanbul rooftops to Thames, they chase clues to lookalike thefts. Pitted against a psychopathic bodyguard Reyna holding Kate hostage and a Portuguese enforcer getting advice from an ancestor’s pickled head, they again call driver Willie for ship, actor Boyd for one-eyed Captain Bridger, special effects carpenter Tom, her father Jake – retired Special Forces, and his talent – machete-wielding Somali pirate Billy Dee. This could be their biggest job – if they survive.
It was a light easy read full of drama and excitement, but it doesn’t have the same joy (or laugh out loud moments) as the Stephanie Plum novels. It would make a good movie though …
Summer at Mount Hope – Rosalie Ham
I read this a few years ago and wasn’t that taken with it – in fact I gave my copy away. However, recently a friend talked about how much she liked it, so I thought I would give it another go – it did mean buying another copy!
Second time around I have to say I really liked it. I think I was put off it the first time by it being described as an ‘outback Pride and Prejudice‘ because I have to say it is nothing like Pride and Prejudice unless it is in the annoying younger sister way or the not being romantic and settling way (you know Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins).
Here is the blurb …
Summer At Mount Hope is the story of a young woman growing up in rural Victoria, Australia in a time of drought and depression. It is the story of her quest to retain freedom despite the strictures and expectations of family and society.
I’m starting to wonder about Ms Ham because all of her stories are a bit bleak – hilariously funny at times, but bleak none the less. Think about the ending to The Dressmaker – definitely successful revenge, but not what you would call a happy ending.
In this one Phoebe Crupp is living on her parents’ vineyard looking forward to running it herself one day. Times are tough and her sister is desperate to make a good marriage – preferably with the son of the local big land owner. Times are tough and it turns out that the Overton’s (local landowners) have sold a part of their land to Mr Steel (who is acting as the manager). Phoebe falls in lust/love with Mr Steel, but he is not free to marry her. Meanwhile Lilith, Phoebe’s sister, entraps Marius Overton into marriage. Everything goes pear-shaped, the Overtons lose their property and there is nothing for it but for Marius and Lilith to take over the vineyard. Phoebe is devastated she feels that her father has sold her out. She settles for Hadley (a neighbour who has always loved her) and moves away.
This novel is about constraints on women and their inability to control the direction of their lives – a good marriage is the only path to security and even that can go awry (look at Lilith). Phoebe sensible, practical and hard-working is not allowed to run the vineyard. There is an epilogue which implies that Phoebe returns triumphant and takes over, but we, the reader, don’t get to read about it.
Some of my favourite reads for 2015
Last year I reviewed 27 books – I have about 6 left to write – still much lower than 2014’s 44. I have had less time this – with more maths students and a bit too much busy work (that’s my inability to say no!).
My favourite novel for the year was Mr Wigg or The Dressmaker – unusual to have two Australian authors as my favourites.
I don’t have any big goals for the year – unless it is to read the books in my pile (that could take me the whole year).