When several people whom I know and like and have similar taste in books to me start raving about a book, it is never long before I make it my mission...moreWhen several people whom I know and like and have similar taste in books to me start raving about a book, it is never long before I make it my mission to get my paws on a copy and that’s exactly what happened with The Likeness. Once I had my squeeky new copy at home, I thought I’d just have a flick through the first few pages and before I knew it I had read all 700 pages in 3 days. It is one of my favourite reads this year!
The story is narrated by Cassie Maddox, a Detective in Dublin’s Domestic Violence Unit. She is called out to the scene of a crime in a derelict cottage in the countryside early one morning where a young lady has been stabbed to death. It doesn’t take Cassie long to work out why she, personally, has been summoned – the dead girl is the spitting image of herself. Not only that, but the girl is ID’d as one Lexie Maddison which is the invented name that Cassie had been given several years ago on an undercover job. The girl, by the looks of all the evidence that is presented to the team, has been living as Lexie Maddison for the last 3 years in Dublin and nobody knows where she came from or who she really is.
Lexie had been living in an old manor house in the village where she was found for just 6 months with 4 of her student friends (one of whom had inherited the house from his deceased uncle). After considerable prersuasion Casssie agrees to become part of a plan to infiltrate the manor house and out the killer. By telling the 4 house-mates that Lexie didn’t die that night, Cassie then spends the next week preparing for her new role by watching videos of the 5 housemates together, learning all about Lexie’s life, mannerisms, and her friends and then she is ready to step into her new life…….
I was on the edge of my seat wondering if Cassie could pull it off and if one of the housemates had anything to do with her death or whether it is someone from Lexie’s unknown past come back to find her, or even someone thinking that they had murdered the original Lexie (from Cassie’s undercover role). One thing is for sure though: the housemates are hiding something.
I just loved this book, I found that I couldn’t and put it down, nor did I want to. Despite the size of the book, I never once felt like it was too long; on the contrary I could have gone on reading for several hundred more. I became like Cassie – so engrossed in Lexie’s life that I felt like I knew the housemates and was living there with them. I love a god thriller, but this felt like more than that to me – it is a pyschoogical thriller and even had shades of The Secret History by Donna Tartt (which is one of my all-time favourite books) or Red Leaves by Paulina Simons (another great college thriller).
The characters in this book are brilliantly drawn: Detective Frank Mackey (Cassie’s undercover boss) is perfect for his role (and I have heard that French’s next book Faithful Place will be narrated by him which I am excited about) as are the characters of the housemates (posh, lying around listening to classical music and reading 18th century poets for relaxation).
This book has turned out to be one of my absolute favourites of the year so far and I intend to dive into In The Woods (the first book) and Faithful Place very soon. If Tana French grabs my attention in these books as much as she has done in The Likeness then she is on her way to becoming one of my favourite authors! (less)
It's been quite a while since I've read a memoir. I used to devour them when I was younger but in recent years I have got so sick of seeing the mis-me...moreIt's been quite a while since I've read a memoir. I used to devour them when I was younger but in recent years I have got so sick of seeing the mis-mems littering the shelves in supermarkets and bookshops: "Don't Hit me with That Bottle of Vodka, Mummy" or "Daddy, Please Don't Make Me Steel Another Packet of Cigarettes For You " (you get the picture). Something about the Far From the Land caught my interest though; a mixture of the cover (which I think if beautiful) and the fact that it isn't a hard-luck, triumph-over-adversity type memoir. Thomas J Rice's book is "a telling of a culture that no longer existed" and a "memoir about the way of life he had abandoned but that had not abandoned him".
Tom Rice (or Sonny as he was known back then) was born in 1940's Ireland and lived on a farm with no electricity with his Mother and six older sisters. The telling of Tom's childhood is of a simple time when his days consisted of helping his Mother milk the cows, surrounded by a gaggle of mewing cats, playing in the fields surrounding the farm with his friends and sing-alongs round the kitchen table. Being an absolute sucker for animals, most of my favourite parts involved dogs, cats or horses. I laughed out loud at Tom's very protective dogs snarling and barking at anyone who came up the path, his first dog Captain who was so protective that when he was helping Tom round up the cows he did his job a little too thoroughly and a few poor and unsuspecting cows got a nip on the backside. Another favourite moment of mine was when the young Tom wanted to copy his older friend Davy who was ploughing the fields with his horses, Tom would tether up the dogs and have him pull him up and down the fields too.
One of my favourite characters in the book was Tom's Mother, Maggie O'Toole, a feisty, independent woman with a really interesting story of her own (in fact, her story would make a great book). When Tom finally left Ireland in 1959, he took his Mother with him. This is a book of two halves: An Irish childhood in a remote farm and a ticket to the industrial north of England where Tom experienced racism for the first time.
I enjoyed this book. To fans of biographies and memoirs and anyone who enjoys reading about life in Ireland or the Irish it's well worth a read. I hope you enjoy. (less)