I have read all of Jane Harper’s novels and this one might be my favourite one yet. I have a paper copy, but in the end I listened to the audio book from Borrowbox.
Here’s the blurb …
At a busy festival site on a warm spring night, a baby lies alone in her pram, her mother vanishing into the crowds.
A year on, Kim Gillespie’s absence casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather deep in the heart of South Australian wine country to welcome a new addition to the family.
Joining the celebrations is federal investigator Aaron Falk. But as he soaks up life in the lush valley, he begins to suspect this tight-knit group may be more fractured than it seems.
Between Falk’s closest friend, a missing mother, and a woman he’s drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge.
This was similar to The Dry in that it is set in a small town, and some people are returning home for a visit. All though this town seemed much nicer than the one in The Dry. Because it’s a crime novel, we can assume Kim didn’t kill herself, so where is she? Is she alive? What happened on the first night party all of those year’s ago? And who killed Josh’s dad in the hit and run accident? Are the two incidents linked?
At various points in the story, I thought different characters were the murderer. It all comes together very nicely in the end.
I was beginning to think Aaron Falk is a bit like Miss Marple, you don’t want him turning up in your town because someone is going to die, but, actually, he turns up after the murder takes place.
In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return to the family’s orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls the past, her daughters examine their own lives and relationship with their mother, and are forced to reconsider the world and everything they thought they knew.
Tom Lake is a meditation on youthful love, married love, and the lives parents have led before their children were born. Both hopeful and elegiac, it explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart. As in all of her novels, Ann Patchett combines compelling narrative artistry with piercing insights into family dynamics. The result is a rich and luminous story, told with profound intelligence and emotional subtlety, that demonstrates once again why she is one of the most revered and acclaimed literary talents working today.
This is a quiet novel more about the characters than the action. It’s a bit coming of age, but also a nostalgic look back at Lara’s younger days. I felt Joe could have been fleshed out a bit more and I am not convinced about the end of the affair (shall we say). But the writing is, as always, beautiful. And I enjoyed all of the theatre, movie, costume and sewing references.
I read this years ago – probably when it was first released – and I know I enjoyed it and I consider it to be my favourite Geraldine Brooks novel. When I saw it as an audio book (read by the author) on Borrowbox, I had to re-visit it.
Here’s the blurb …
An unforgettable tale, set in 17th century England, of a village that quarantines itself to arrest the spread of the plague, from the author The Secret Chord and of March , winner of the Pulitzer Prize
When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna’s eyes we follow the story of the fateful year of 1666, as she and her fellow villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition. As death reaches into every household and villagers turn from prayers to murderous witch-hunting, Anna must find the strength to confront the disintegration of her community and the lure of illicit love. As she struggles to survive and grow, a year of catastrophe becomes instead annus mirabilis, a “year of wonders.”
Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged hill country of England, Year of Wonders is a richly detailed evocation of a singular moment in history. Written with stunning emotional intelligence and introducing “an inspiring heroine” ( The Wall Street Journal ), Brooks blends love and learning, loss and renewal into a spellbinding and unforgettable read.
It’s extraordinary how little of this novel I remembered. It is also very interesting to read this in a Covid (post-covid) world. This village isolates itself so as not to spread the plague, they move church services to outside and stand at a distance from each other – that’s all very familiar.
It’s beautifully written with lots of lovely period detail (but blended into the story). I particularly enjoyed all of the domestic details and the herb remedies. There is also a lot of death (from the plague and otherwise), religion ( was the plague god’s judgement for their sins), selfishness and superstitions.
The shop assistant at The Lane told me that this was similar to Lessons in Chemistry, so I was keen to read it. Clearly she hasn’t read either of them (or read one but not the other?). They are absolutely nothing alike!
Here’s the blurb …
It’s winter in Sydney and the lives of two strangers have fallen apart. Newly separated and in need of a distraction, Clare agrees to help her neighbour Louisa with a funeral catering business that has bitten off more than it can chew. Chris, an emergency doctor, has witnessed too many deaths but still feels compelled to attend the occasional wake.
When Clare and Chris meet, the good in their lives is slowly illuminated. After all, the thing about death is that it makes life matter.
Funny, moving, wise and hopeful, The Wakes is an irresistible debut novel about old friends, lost love, good food and new beginnings.
I enjoyed it, not as much as Lessons in Chemistry though. It’s a story of being blind-sided and then picking up the pieces and getting on with things, only to realise that your life is better now. It is also about grief and loss and making the most of each day. There are some funny bits, definitely emotional bits, and I really want to try the amazing chicken sandwiches (how good could a chicken sandwich be?).
I love Georgette Heyer’s regency romances and this might be my favourite one.
Here’s the blurb …
Miles from anywhere, Darracott Place is presided over by elderly Lord Darracott. Irascible Lord Darracott rules his barony with a firm hand. The tragic accident that killed his eldest son by drowning has done nothing to improve his temper. For now, he must send for the next heir apparent–the unknown offspring of the uncle whom the family is never permitted to mention. He also summons his bickering descendants to the rundown family estate. Yet none of that beleaguered family are prepared for the arrival of the weaver’s brat and heir apparent…
This was a lot of fun with all of the usual Heyerisms – lots of cant terms, silly young man, sensible (not to mention wealthy) slightly older man, a bit of action and amazing historical research. And the ending is particularly clever and inventive.
Here’s a fabulous article from Jennifer Kloester (she wrote a biography of Heyer).
I enjoyed Days without End and The Secret Scriptures, but I was a bit wary of reading this one. I kept seeing it in various different places though, so I thought I would give it a go.
Here’s the blurb …
Recently retired policeman Tom Kettle is settling into the quiet of his new home, a lean-to annexed to a Victorian castle overlooking the Irish Sea. For months he has barely seen a soul, catching only glimpses of his eccentric landlord and a nervous young mother who has moved in next door. Occasionally, fond memories return, of his family, his beloved wife June and their two children, Winnie and Joe.
But when two former colleagues turn up at his door with questions about a decades-old case, one which Tom never quite came to terms with, he finds himself pulled into the darkest currents of his past.
A beautiful, haunting novel, in which nothing is quite as it seems, Old God’s Time is about what we live through, what we live with, and what may survive of us.
I found the blurb quite misleading – I thought he would be dragged back into an unsolved case and it would be a crime novel. But that’s not what happens, he thinks back on various incidents in his life. Tom is old and alone (all of his family have died) and he is confused. So a very unreliable narrator – he had conversations which may or may not have taken place. Altogether I found it quite a challenge to follow; I think that’s the point, but the writing is beautiful. I can forgive a lot for lovely sentences.
This book is not for the faint-hearted, there is horrific child sexual abuse (only described retrospectively).
This was also in Mr H’s audible library and having read the first two, I decided to read this one (and then I will be ready when Apple releases the next season).
Here’s the blurb …
London’s Slough House is where disgraced MI5 operatives are reassigned to spend the rest of their spy careers pushing paper. But when one of these “slow horses” is kidnapped by a former soldier bent on revenge, the agents must breach the defenses of Regent’s Park to steal valuable intel in exchange for their comrade’s safety. The kidnapping is only the tip of the iceberg, however, as the agents uncover a larger web of intrigue that involves not only a group of private mercenaries but also the highest authorities in the Security Service. After years spent as the lowest on the totem pole, the slow horses suddenly find themselves caught in the midst of a conspiracy that threatens not only the future of Slough House, but of MI5 itself.
I think this is my favourite of the three; machinations within machinations and Lamb is grotesque, but occasionally funny. The other slow horses are kind and loyal (maybe not Roddy, but being in his head is hilarious).
This is a fast-paced, easy to read spy drama (slightly horrifying in that they always seem to be scheming against each other and not the enemy).
I have been outside my comfort zone with my reading lately – thriller (Geneva) and now this one, but I am currently reading Old God’s Time and listening to The Unknown Ajax, so there will be a return to normality soon.
I have become a keen Emily Henry fan, so I was waiting for this one to be released. Here is the blurb …
Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college—they go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except, now—for reasons they’re still not discussing—they don’t.
They broke up six months ago. And still haven’t told their best friends.
Which is how they find themselves sharing the largest bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group’s yearly getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one vibrant, blue week they leave behind their daily lives; have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most.
Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how desperately they still want each other. Because the cottage is for sale and this is the last week they’ll all have together in this place. They can’t stand to break their friends’ hearts, and so they’ll play their parts. Harriet will be the driven surgical resident who never starts a fight, and Wyn will be the laid-back charmer who never lets the cracks show. It’s a flawless plan (if you look at it from a great distance and through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses). After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week… in front of those who know you best?
I do like a second chance romance.
This is a fun, well-written story about two people finding their way when things get tough (a bit of a sunken cost thing going on – not about the relationship).
This novel also has one of my favourite quotes
Like even when something beautiful breaks, the making of it still matters
This was in Mr H’s audible library and I like both Richard Armitage and Nicola Walker, so I thought I would give it a go.
Here’s the blurb …
Nobel Prize-winning scientist Sarah Collier has started to show the same tell-tale signs of the Alzheimer’s disease as her father: memory loss, even blackouts. So she is reluctant to accept the invitation to be the guest of honour at a prestigious biotech conference – until her husband Daniel, also a neuroscientist, persuades her that the publicity storm will be worth it. The technology being unveiled at this conference could revolutionise medicine forever. More than that, it could save Sarah’s life.
In Geneva, the couple are feted as stars – at least, Sarah is. But behind the five-star luxury, investors are circling, controversial blogger Terri Landau is all over the story, and Sarah’s symptoms are getting worse. As events begin to spiral out of control, Sarah can’t be sure who to trust – including herself.
I do read the odd thriller/crime, but it is not my favourite genre. I found this one fascinating; the chapters were from different perspectives, which meant, firstly, they could be unreliable narrators and secondly you could only learn what they knew. It was a good structure for the novel (I wonder if you write things in order and then move things around?). I am not going to spoil it for anyone, I will just say I did not think the story would end the way it did.
This was a fast-paced, modern novel and it was a real page turner (If I had been reading it – I get finding jobs to do, so I could listen).
This was free from Audible and it sounded like something I would like. It’s quite short – about five hours – so I was prepared to give it a go. And I enjoyed it. A nice romance with a mature heroine.
Here’s the blurb …
Jane Bancroft has returned to Lovett, Tasmania after 20 years away, minus one ex-husband but plus one outraged teenage daughter. Life in the city – life in general – hasn’t quite panned out as she would have liked. With her mother unwell, now seems as good a time as any to come back to where it all began, and perhaps even start a new life here in the heart of Tasmanian apple country. But the legacy of Jane’s wild apple youth has not been forgotten by small-town Lovett and her homecoming is haunted by past tragedy.
Jane’s not the only child of Lovett returning home. Drew Pascoe, one-time scrawny kid working the pub kitchens, now handsome celebrity chef, is also back in town and looking to re-establish his roots. With the blessing of the locals and in an effort to reinvigorate tourism to Lovett, Drew has restored the old homestead Valleyfield, and plans to televise its opening as Tasmania’s hottest new dining destination. He knows a key ingredient to success is a unique homegrown flavour: Jane’s mother Thea, crowned Apple Queen of Lovett and the cantankerous guardian of the legendary recipe for apple snow. But the charm offensive he’s launched on Thea is not the only reason he’s keen to spend quite so much time with Jane.
Between her mother’s bitterness, her daughter’s escapades and the struggle to rebuild a her life, helping Lovett’s new golden boy with his grand plans are not Jane’s priority. But Drew’s enchanting persistence is making Jane realise that mending old wounds and a homegrown romance may in fact be the only way to start a fresh new chapter.
This was an easy to read (listen to) story. Drew was a lovely hero (possibly a bit too understanding). I think many of stuck in the sandwich generation (teen-aged children and aging parents) can appreciate the difficulties of Jane’s life. I always like a return to a small town romance.