Reviews of ‘Behind Her Eyes’ by Sarah Pinborough and ‘An American Marriage’ by Tayari Jones

Behind Her Eyes

I came to this book as a result of the Netflix series.  I read the book and watched the series.

I talk about this book in a previous live on my Facebook page, so you can go and watch the video.  However I’ll go into a little more depth here.

The novel is told from two different perspectives.  That of the fragile Adele who is married to David and that of Louise – a single mother who lives in London.

Louise meets David in a bar one night, they hit it off and share a kiss outside before he runs off.  To Louise’s horror, the next day when she goes to work, she discovers that David is her boss.  He is a psychiatrist, and she is his secretary. 

When Adele then befriends Louise and Louise becomes further involved with David, the story takes a more sinister turn.

Adele is certainly not all that she seems.  This novel takes you on a rollercoaster ride of who is telling the truth and who is lying.   The tension does build exquisitely and it is definitely a page turner.

What I couldn’t’ decide with the crazy twist at the end was whether I loved it or hated it!  The ending is so mad that you really do go WHAT??!

This is clearly the author’s intention and to that end she did a magnificent job!

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.

There’s something so juicy about reading someone else’s letters.  It’s like getting a private peek into their innermost thoughts.  Tayari Jones uses this device to great effect in this prize-winning novel.

Roy and Celestial are a recently married couple on the up.  Both of their careers are going well, and life is good.  That all changes one night when Roy is dragged out of his bed in a motel they are staying at together, and accused of a rape he didn’t commit.

Roy is found guilty and receives a twelve-year prison sentence.   The novel then changes from first person narrative to letters exchanged between the couple while Roy is in jail. 

Tayari Jones deals with the issues of marriage, race (Ray is African American) love and fidelity.  It is exquisitely written with the emotions of Ray and Celestial’s souls being laid wide open for the reader.    The letters are raw and heart breaking. 

Marriage can be a compromise at the best of times, but when put under this kind of pressure, individual tensions come raging to the surface.

Roy has to question everything he has ever known about his own identity, that of his wife and the fabric of his entire life.

This is a beautiful portrayal of what happens to people when everything they love is torn from them, when they have to question everything they thought they knew, and what it means to love.

I highly recommend this novel.  It is worthy of all the praise it has received.

Reviews of Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh and Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

I read Fifty Fifty following the discussion on ‘Between The Covers,’ the BBC Radio Two book show that was on TV last year.   As soon as I heard the words ‘courtroom drama,’ I was in.  I love books, films or TV shows that revolve around court cases.

I was also interested as Steve Cavanagh is from Belfast like me.

The premise of the novel is that two sisters, Sofia and Alexandra are both accused of the same crime – murdering their father.   The question is -which one of them is guilty?

The novel is narrated by three different characters as we follow each of their stories.  First up is Eddie Flynn, a criminal lawyer who is sharp and now working with recently retired Judge Harry Ford. He is representing Sofia. To be totally honest I can’t remember that much about Eddie Flynn in terms of character, so he didn’t stick in my mind. 

The second strand of the narrative comes from the defence attorney Kate Brooks who is representing Alexandra.  She’s a bit wet behind the ears, but a likeable character who goes on quite a journey throughout the book.

The third view point of the novel are the chapters entitled ‘She’ and they are told from the murderer’s perspective.  A very clever idea, as we get an insight into the murderer’s mind, but the author also manages to throw us a few red herrings!

What I enjoyed most about this novel is the pace, it’s fast – no waffle! It also keeps you guessing.  I think I changed my mind three times about who the murderer was, despite having it right first time!

A good escapist novel for those who like their crime fiction fast paced, a bit tongue in cheek at times and with plenty of bluffs and double bluffs!

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Rarely am I left not knowing whether I liked or hated a book – in fact, I believe this is a first, but I was genuinely left a bit perplexed by this book.  I couldn’t decide.  I thought bits of it were brilliant and other parts were so boring and left me scratching my head.

Toby Fleishman is a doctor who appears to be pretty self-obsessed, has something akin to an eating disorder and thinks about nothing more than when he’s next going to have sex.  I found him a total bore. 

He is currently going through divorce proceedings with his soon to be ex-wife Rachel.

One morning Rachel leaves their two kids with him (Hannah 11 – spoilt brat and Solly younger and much sweeter) and goes off to a yoga retreat but fails to return to collect them at the appointed time. 

She doesn’t come back, and Toby is unable to make contact.

I couldn’t quite figure out what this part of the story was meant to convey – that Rachel was a bitch? That Rachel was mad?

The narration I also found totally confusing.  The novel is narrated by Libby – an old friend of Toby’s. But this didn’t become clear to me for quite some time.  It seemed to start in the third person and then be narrated by an unknown voice.  Not sure where I missed the note!  Perhaps I just wasn’t concentrating.  This book requires concentration at times.

The second half of the novel was where I began to tune in and enjoy it.  The author turns marriage on its head, and everything we think we know turns out to be wrong.  There’s much more to Rachel than we were led to believe.  

Libby wakes up and sees Toby for what he is – narcissistic and needy.

I think the point the author is making is that we stereotype genders, professions and even people, when there’s usually a lot more going on than meets the eye.

There’s no doubt the author is full of razor-sharp wit, insightful asides, and interesting view points on many subjects.  It was all just a bit too confusing for me.

I think the nub of it was that I didn’t care two hoots about either Toby or Rachel, and if you don’t get invested in the characters there’s not much point really.

However, I do know I am in the minority regarding this book, as it seems to have many adoring fans.

Let me know what you think!

Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers

I adore novels with a strong sense of place and ‘Small Pleasures’ certainly fit the bill. Set in 1957 in the suburbs of London, Jean Swinney works as a feature writer at local newspaper, ‘The North Kent Echo.’  She lives with her elderly ailing mother and from the start it’s clear that Jean’s life is one of domesticity, boredom, and responsibility.  She enjoys the ‘small pleasures’ of a sherry now and then, a few cigarettes while lying on the lawn, or a day trip away from the suffocating atmosphere in which she resides.

With the arrival of a new story to investigate, Jean’s life suddenly becomes a lot more interesting. A young Swiss woman called Gretchen Tilbury contacts the paper to say that her daughter Margaret is the result of a virgin birth.   When Jean investigates the story, she gets more than she bargained for.  She begins a friendship with Gretchen, Howard and Margaret that will lead to unusual and devastating consequences.

This novel had me hooked from the start.  Written in the third person, the narrative is perfectly paced, and after just a few pages I felt Jean was someone I would certainly go for a drink with. I sympathized immediately with the situation she was stuck in with her cantankerous mother.  Every aspect of Jean’s life is beautifully detailed, with the small details such as a dinner of ‘liver and onions, and tinned pears with evaporated milk for pudding’ creating a vivid picture of life in 1950s London.

Jean’s relationship with the Tilbury family develops slowly and yet I was immediately drawn in to the impact the small gestures of kindness shown to Jean by the family had on her.  The warmth between Gretchen and her daughter Margaret serves to highlight the lack of affection Jean has had in her own life, and makes you feel for her all the more.

I loved the character of Jean.  I thought despite her circumstances she was – as they probably would have said in those days – a plucky ol bird!  She may be somewhat naïve but paradoxically I think she is also switched on in many ways and knows there is something more to this story from the start.

Her friendship with Howard is extraordinarily moving and would bring a tear to a glass eye!

I loved the characterization, the sense of place and the gradual unfolding of the narrative – all exquisitely timed and oh so beautifully written.

There are only about 5 or 6 books that I own that I re-read for pleasure.  I will certainly be adding this one to the list.   A wonderful novel.    Delighted to see it getting all the coverage it deserves.

Supper Club by Lara Williams

If I start a book, I almost always finish it.  It’s a sort of stubbornness, but also, I always hope that it is going to redeem itself somewhere along the line.

Supper Club was a book I finished, but unfortunately I didn’t get along with at all.  It wasn’t for me.  I can see how, if recipes and talking about food are your bag, you might love it.

My fundamental problem was with the structure.  I like a book that I can put down and when I come back to it a couple of days later, I can pick up where I left off.   Not possible with Supper Club.

It jumped around so much, I didn’t know where I was from one reading to the next, and I read it every night to try and remedy this problem.

The book is written in the first-person narrative and centers around Roberta.  The story jumps between Roberta’s life at university where she struggles to fit in and make friends, and her current life, writing reviews for a fashion website where she meets the indomitable Stevie.

Stevie and Roberta set up the ‘Supper Club’ a club where women get together to eat, drink, and go wild. They source food from dumpsters (yes really) and leftover food from supermarkets.  Roberta is a great cook and rustles up all sorts of exotic dishes. Their behaviour during Supper Club is to behave as badly as possible.  Mash food everywhere, have food fights, eat and drink and take drugs till you are sick. Out of control.  They break in to places and demolish them.  Why?  It certainly doesn’t seem to make them feel any better about themselves, and I just didn’t see the point.

The idea that somehow this makes them feminists and is sticking it up to the patriarchy just seemed a ridiculous idea to me.  What are they trying to prove?  That they can eat until they are sick?  Way to go.

The redeeming aspects of the story are the descriptions of the food and the descriptions of Roberta’s loneliness. What I hated, were the recipes that were just dropped into the novel a propos of nothing.  They jarred with me as they spoilt the flow of the narrative.

Towards the end, I did enjoy the narrative regarding Roberta and Stevie’s friendship and some of the descriptive writing is exceptionally astute and beautiful, but overall, I am afraid this novel just frustrated me.   If you have read it and enjoyed it, perhaps you can enlighten me?!  I have such respect for writers, and there is no doubt that Lara Williams is an exceptionally gifted writer.  This novel just wasn’t for me.

supper club

 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

The sales from this novel have left publishers astonished.  Not just because of its phenomenal success, but because of the duration of that success.  What has made this such an outlier in the publishing world?   Some may say the fascinating back story has something to do with it.

I’m not going to get into that here, but there’s plenty about it online if you are so inspired.

My interest in the book lay partly due to the author having spent time in Zambia, where I grew up.  There’s no doubt she has led a fascinating life – and I intend to read one of her other books called ‘The Eye of the Elephant.’

where the crawdads sing

The novel starts poignantly as four-year-old Kya watches her mother walk down the road with her suitcase, without looking back.  Kya doesn’t know it then, but her mother is never coming back.  Left with her siblings who are all much older than her, and are leaving home fast, Kya is soon abandoned and isolated.  Her father is a chronic alcoholic and she spends much of her time hiding from his temper.   Her mother had taken one beating too many – hence her departure.

Kya’s journey of survival begins at a very young age.  By the time she reaches her teens, she is completely alone and has been nicknamed ‘The marsh girl,’ by the residents of this small town in North Carolina.

Running parallel to Kya’s story is the story of the murder of a young man, Chase Andrews, the town’s rich kid and a former high school quarterback.

I believe the reason this book continues to be on the bestseller list is due to several factors.  The author’s evident passion for, and beautiful descriptions of the natural world.   The marsh is so vividly evoked, I could totally lose myself in the depictions, such as ‘the ballet of fireflies,’ mentions of egrets, slate coloured skies, cicadas and gulls.  Kya immerses herself wholly and completely into her surroundings.  It is her security and her sole comfort.

Its success is also because it is a gripping tale of survival in a very unusual setting.  We all love a story of someone fighting to survive against all the odds.  Every day is a battle for Kya.  She battles to feed herself, to fight off the nasty young men who are all secretly attracted to her, and to survive the loneliness that threatens to engulf her.  Small town gossip and racial tensions heighten the atmosphere.  In fact, Kya’s only two supporters are a coloured couple who are mainly ostracised from the community themselves.

Finally, this book is a winner because the prose is evocative, engaging, lyrical and character driven.  I cared about what happened to Kya, I was rooting for her from her childhood onwards.  We love a story of the underdog winning in the end.  But does she?  You’ll have to read it to find out!

It’s brilliant.  Just read it! You are in for an absolute treat!

Reviews of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

The Paris Wife is based upon the true story of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley.  They meet in the 1920s in Chicago and immediately form a strong bond.  After a whirlwind courtship they go to Paris where Ernest believes his writing career will flourish.

This is where the trouble begins as their glamourous life becomes more than a little complicated.

The story is narrated in the first person by Hadley which gives it a beautiful immediacy and poignancy.   The characters are well developed, and the descriptions of Paris made my yearn to visit the city I love so much.

This is a beautifully written love story about the devastation of betrayal and the importance of loyalty.  It is about friendship, love and jealousy and what happens when your boundaries are blown apart.    The writing is elegant and the prose hypnotic.  It transported me to a different world, and I found it fully engaging.   I recommend this book highly.  In one word it is stunning.

photo of The Paris Wife and Exit West

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

I was completely blown away by this author’s book – ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ when I read it about five years ago.  So, I was eager to read Exit West.   Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed Exit West, it didn’t captivate me as ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ had, but that’s not to say it’s not a great read.

Hamid has the gift of writing beautifully stark prose that captures a moment in time in technicolour.

Written in the third person, Exit West tells the story of Saeed and Nadia who both live in an unnamed city where war has broken out.  They meet at an evening class. Saeed is the son of a university professor and Nadia lives alone and wears a full black robe, despite it not being compulsory in their society.  She says it is a form of protection, so we understand women are not treated with anything close to the respect they deserve by the patriarchy. As Saeed and Nadia’s relationship develops, the fighting escalates, and they know they must escape or risk death.

Now, I must confess this is the bit of the story I couldn’t quite get my head around – they escape through these ‘doors’ and do not know where they will find themselves.  Of course, I understand it is a metaphor and the author employs the use of magical realism, but it didn’t quite work for me, and it did take away from the story somewhat.   The first place they find themselves in is Mykonos in Greece.  They stay there for a while before then going to London and then to Marin in San Francisco.

The author’s gift lies in portraying what life is like for refugees and the awful realities for those who are fleeing war torn countries.

What I loved most about this novel were the descriptions.  This one struck me as particularly prescient given the times we are currently in, when Saeed contemplates his grief:

‘and he touched a feeling that we are all children who lose our parents, all of us……and this loss unites humanity, unites every human being, the temporary nature of our being-ness, and our shared sorrow……Saeed felt it might be possible, in the face of death, to believe in humanity’s potential for building a better world.’

This is another poignant love story, thought-provoking and heart-breaking. Highly recommend.

 

 

 

Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor

Set in 1878 in London this novel is an atmospheric tour de force.  Telling the story of Bram Stoker’s life as a theatre manager in London where he meets the eccentric and fabulously talented actor and Chief of the Lyceum Theatre Henry Irving and his leading lady, the enigmatic and beautiful Ellen Terry.  Although a work of fiction, it is based on real events, making it (if it were possible) an even more fascinating read.

shadowplay image

Bram Stoker had been a theatre critic in Dublin which is where he came to the attention of Henry Irving.  Irving invites him to manage the Lyceum Theatre in London.    Bram has just married Florence Balcombe in haste, and both will repent at leisure.  She was the former flame of Oscar Wilde, who makes a brief appearance in the novel.  Stoker becomes bewitched by the beautiful Ellen Terry and his obsession with both her and his work at the theatre leaves Florence abandoned and desolate.

The novel is structured in Three Acts and the story includes a mix of letters, witness testimony and recollections.  The atmosphere is what makes this novel utterly captivating.  London in all its gothic undertones, as the Jack the Ripper murders cast a dark shadow and the haunted theatre seems destined to curses and misfortune.

The relationship between Bram Stoker and Henry Irving adds greatly to the story.  Although Irving treats Stoker with disdain and utter contempt, he needs Stoker more than Stoker needs him, and their co-dependent relationship becomes a true friendship by the end.  Or at least I like to believe it does!

Joseph O’Connor has such a talent for making a city come alive on the page and the atmosphere of London and the goings on in the theatre make this novel an absolute joy to read.  His writing is incandescent, and I would re-read this novel happily, knowing I would get something more from it every time.

It’s a fascinating look at the writer of one of the most enduring classics of our time – Dracula, and the demons he faced as a writer and a man.

I recommend this novel without hesitation.  One of my favourite reads in a long time.  I will now dash off to order ‘Ghost Light’ which I believe is also set in the theatre.

Emilie Pine Notes to Self

Anne Enright’s quote on the front of this book is ‘Do not read this book in public: it will make you cry.’  Sage advice. I am not usually a big fan of the essay, but if ever there was a book that changed my mind, this was it.

notes to self imageNotes to Self

There are six essays in total.  Each between twenty to forty pages long.  The author is an Associate Professor of Modern Drama at University College Dublin, and my oh my can she write.

The first essay is entitled ‘Notes on Intemperance.’  It deals with her father’s alcoholism and how she cared for him when he was admitted to hospital in Corfu (where he was living at the time.)

I nearly stopped reading after the first few pages, as the descriptions are so graphic and so grim. Thank goodness I kept going.  The writing is raw, full of emotion and such truth.  I had to re-read several sentences, as I couldn’t believe Emilie Pine had the courage to put them down on the page.

The Second essay is entitled ‘From the Baby Years.’  Well if the first one was tough, this one nearly finished me off altogether!  In this essay Ms Pine talks about her struggle to conceive, and her doubts about whether she actually wanted to conceive in the first place.  There was so much of this essay with which I could identify, and it took me back to some incredibly painful times.  My favourite part though is the end of the essay where she writes:

“Though we do not have the joy of biological children, there are many ways to have a childful life.  And, it turns out, there are many ways to enjoy a childfree life, a recent, and important, shift of emphasis for me.  I am done marking myself through absence.  I am done using the word ‘failure’ about my body.  I am done living and writing that story.   This is the moment that we get to look around, find our own balance, and enjoy the view from where we are.”

Beautifully expressed and oh so true.

The next essay entitled ‘Speaking/Not Speaking,’ deals with her parents’ divorce and is again revealing, illuminating and opens up painful truths to the writer herself.

In the fourth essay entitled ‘Notes on Bleeding and Other Crimes,’ Emilie Pine deals with the taboo subject of periods, bleeding, and all other aspects of women’s bodies that we have been asked to keep quiet about for fear of upsetting those who can’t handle it.  Well, the author is saying, I am keeping quiet no longer.  Women bleed, get over it!

She brilliantly compares how unashamed of our bodies we are when children as compared to adults:

“As I think about the confluence of bodies and silence, I remember back to when pain was something to talk about, when our bodies were the subject of a show-and-tell.  Aged seven I would roll up my trouser leg and narrate the scars – from the dog bite, or the jumping off the shed roof, or from the rusty nail scratch that got infected.”

My favourite essay is the penultimate essay entitled ‘Something About Me.’   In this essay the author talks about her extremely troubled youth.  How she developed an eating disorder and how she struggled to cope with everything about her life, despite showing a brave and undaunted persona to the outside world.  This essay is heart-breaking because no-one stepped in to help, because no-one took enough time or trouble to notice.  Not a teacher, not a parent and not a friend.  This is how young girls so easily get lost in the system.  The author is clearly a deeply sensitive and (at the time) extremely troubled soul, and so she gave away her love and her body without a second thought, so desperate was her need to be noticed. Her own mother was struggling financially and did not have the energy herself to care for a wayward daughter, although she tried on occasion.

Although it is a miracle she survives unscathed, it is not the all of her life.  It covers a period of eight years from which she recovers and learns.  She is unflinchingly honest, and it is such a raw and insightful piece of writing.  The author recounts how difficult it was to put it on the page:

“These pages cover a period of about eight years.  They contain many events and emotions that I have never told to anyone before, or even admitted to myself.  The experience of writing them out has been very painful. That I cannot, or have not, avoided this pain by choosing not to write the story is due to one simple reason: the urge to write this feels not only dangerous and fearful and shameful, but necessary. I write this now to reclaim those parts of me that for so long I thoroughly denied.”

This could be the message of the whole book of essays, and we are the lucky recipients, for in her courage and honesty, we can see ourselves reflected and our experiences mirrored.

Emilie Pine ends the book with an essay entitled ‘This is not on the Exam.’  It is a beautiful piece about a woman’s belief that she must do it all, have it all and be it all.  After putting herself through a punishing regime at work that pushed her right to the edge of a breakdown, she examines the cultural aspects of being a woman in academia, and what is both expected of you and the assumption that you will do your job, be quiet and be good.  I found it staggering that the misogynistic, antiquated, sexist views and attitudes still exist, but apparently, they are alive and well which is not good enough.  Fortunately, the author concludes that the work will never be done.  It is never enough, and it is up to her to put a value on herself and look after her own mental health.

In spite of the fear she is doing it anyway and you can’t ask for more than that.

A superb book of essays.  Buy a box of tissues and enjoy!

 

 

Reviews of He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly and Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly.

This is a thriller that does not disappoint.  The story is told through the perspectives of Kit and his wife Laura and partly through their ‘friend’ Beth.

Following eclipses around the world are Kit’s passion and the author cleverly uses this as a framing technique for each chapter, as well as a metaphor for the darkness/light of this unfolding drama.

he said she said

 

The narrative goes back and forth in time between 1999 and 2015.  Kit and Laura go to a festival in Cornwall to see an eclipse in 1999.  Laura stumbles upon a young woman (Beth) being sexually assaulted.  She calls the police and the novel follows the events after the attack.

Friends who have read this book have raved about it, and I must agree with their raving!

It is unputdownable.  Just read it now! You can thank me later.  Full of plot twists and turns which are wholly unpredictable.  Relatable characters and a creepy storyline that has you guessing from start to finish.  I loved it.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.

This is my book of the year so far!  I was concerned that the hype was overdone, but for once I agree wholeheartedly with all the praise.  A brilliant book.   I didn’t realize until I started reading it that it was based on real people and real events, which just made it even more engrossing.

three women

Based on extensive interviews, Taddeo tells the stories of three women; Sloane, Maggie and Lina.

The book is written in the third person and reads like a novel which adds greatly to the dynamic.  Sloane, a rich over achieving socialite who owns a restaurant with her husband, sleeps with other men while her husband watches. They both enjoy the thrill of it. Taddeo explores Sloane’s motivations, history and tragic vulnerability with incredible skill and exquisite prose.

Maggie’s story I found the most interesting of all.  She has an affair with her teacher while she is underage.  She later testifies against him for statutory rape and is belittled, humiliated and cast out by those in her community. Maggie has to watch from the side lines as this teacher wins awards and the adulation and support of all those around him, while he acts as if she never existed. Maggie, of all three women, wakes up to what has happened, how she has been mistreated and the scales fall from her eyes in relation to the true character of this man. Taddeo handles this story with sensitivity but does not shy away from brutal truths about all those involved.

The final story for me was pitiful.  Lina is gang raped as a teenager, not even aware during the incident how horrific it is, due to being drunk and drugged.  She never realizes the significance of what has happened to her. It also signals the end of the romance with her childhood sweetheart Aidan.  Years later when Lina is married to a man who withholds affection and barely acknowledges her existence, Lina meets Aidan again and begins an affair.  Her lack of self-awareness and her desperation to please only increase through the affair.   Whilst I definitely felt pity for her, she was the only character I felt frustrated with, because she deserved so much better.

The stories of all three women are so full of humanity, it would make you want to cry.  The stories illustrate in stark reality what happens when women do not love or respect themselves (often due to circumstances in childhood or other.)  There is also the sense that these women are not supported by other women in the way they should be.  Indeed, the author suggests as much in the prologue:

“it’s women . . . who have a greater hold over other women than men have. We can make each other feel dowdy, whorish, unclean, unloved, not beautiful.”

This is one of the most unique books I have ever read.  It was shocking, yet believable, compassionate yet cruel.  There were so many contradictions and I was left with the overwhelming feeling that although horrific events can happen to us in our lives, what matters are the choices we make afterwards.  Unfortunately for these three women, those choices were not always the wisest, though they may have been the most understandable.

Please let me know your thoughts on either of the books above.  I would love to know what you thought.

 

Two Short Reviews of Summer Reading!

I am enjoying some light reading over the summer months, so just posting some brief thoughts on the two books I have read recently.

The first was The Woman in The Window by A.J. Finn.

the woman in the window

This is a psychological thriller in the style of ‘The Girl on the Train.’

Dr Anna Fox is a child psychologist who has developed severe agoraphobia due to a traumatic event and cannot leave the house.  She lives alone in an upmarket neighbourhood of New York.  She drinks copious amounts of Merlot, chats to people online and spies on her neighbours with a long lens camera.

The novel is about what happens when she hears a blood curdling scream coming from across the road at her neighbour’s house, ‘The Russells.’

I found this a thoroughly enjoyable read, if complete nonsense at times.  If you can suspend your disbelief about certain events, then you are in for an enjoyable time.  If you are stickler for realism, this may not be for you!

It moves along at a ferocious pace, so boredom was never a problem for me.  I found the main character likeable and believable for the most part.  I did suspect something about the person who turns out to be the murderer, but I was never 100% sure. Another plot twist I guessed immediately, but there was one I didn’t get.   So pretty good if you like your thrillers to keep you guessing!

What I didn’t like (very similar to The Girl on the Train) was how together, competent and razor sharp the main character could be, having just downed the guts of two bottles of wine.  This really bugs me about these types of thrillers.  OK, so maybe I have a low tolerance to alcohol, and the character has built up a huge tolerance, but what she is able to achieve whilst supposedly ‘drunk,’ really stretches the limits of plausibility in anyone’s language!

However, if you are looking for an entertaining beach read, look no further!

Now, important question.  Is anyone watching ‘Tales of the City,’ on Netflix?

tales of the city image

It popped up on my recommended list and I had heard about the books by Armistead Maupin, so off I went in search of more info.  It turns out there are many books in the series – 9 to be exact, but I ventured forth nonetheless and read the first one.

Set in the 1970s in San Francisco, it’s about Mary Anne Singleton who arrives in the city, and rents a place at 28 Barbary Lane. The book follows an endearing cast of eccentric characters who either live in Barbary Lane or know someone who does.  The writing is witty, the characters superbly drawn.  My only gripe – and it’s a small one – was that I didn’t get several of the cultural references.  I am now interested to check out the original T.V. series which is online at channel4.com.

I think I’ll see what the original T.V series is all about. I would love it if you could let me know if you are watching it on Netflix.  Apparently, it’s a continuation of the story, but me being me, I need to know what I may have missed!

I haven’t decided yet if I’ll read any more of the Armistead Maupin series. I would be happy to, but there are too many other books I want to read first.

Next book on the reading list – He said/She said by Erin Kelly.