My first W. Somerset Maugham but it won't be my last. Whilst I found this story a bit silly, it was well written and I'm looking forward to reading ThMy first W. Somerset Maugham but it won't be my last. Whilst I found this story a bit silly, it was well written and I'm looking forward to reading The Painted Veil for a group challenge later this year.
Up at the Village is a short book, a novella, and tells the story of a widow who has travelled to Italy to recover from her marriage to a drunken womaniser. She's beautiful, sociable and has friends who own a villa in the Florentine hills where she has lived for the past few months. The story opens with her setting off for dinner in a quaint place on the banks of the Arno. She's due to meet an Italian Princess who is holding a dinner party. At the dinner party is a young man who seems to have a reputation for charming the ladies. Entertaining them is a young Austrian who is a refugee in Italy (the book was published 1941). He plays the fiddle badly but our young widow takes pity on him, despite being left practically penniless (although she's managed to buy a sports car!) herself. She gives him a generous tip. Before the evening is out she had been on a night ride with the ladies man and has had marriage proposed (she also has a 50+ family friend who is keen to marry her and take her to India for him to take on a Viceroy role).
On the way back to the villa out of the shadows pops the refugee. He wants to see her frescos and she agrees. He's overcome with passion for the widow and "violence" (words on the blurb) occurs which sets our widow on a journey of secrets, truths, and questionable passions.
This story is very evocative of the time. Given this story was published in 1941 and reference was made to the Reich, I feel a need to understand a little better how the widow was able to reside in Italy as freely and she did. ...more
More portrait of an individual than (as described) a crime novel, this Man Booker nominee does deliver a good novel but it is a novel where not a lotMore portrait of an individual than (as described) a crime novel, this Man Booker nominee does deliver a good novel but it is a novel where not a lot happens.
Eileen is a twenty something New Englander, working at a boys prison. She lives a home in a ramshackle house with her father. Her mother has died and her father has taken to the drink, more seriously than ever before. Eileen doesn't really like her job and she's friendless, her father is a nightmare to look after, and so when her colleague Rebecca appears on the scene and pays her attention Eileen falls for her charms. And Rebecca persuades Eileen to commit a crime.
The crime takes up about 10 pages at most; the rest of the novel, written in day by day chapters, is really a character analysis. Eileen has issues with her father and issues with her view of her own self. She drinks, doesn't eat very much and seems to spend an inordinate time clearing her bowels (which is discussed in great detail btw).
Despite not a lot happening I thought the novel well written. It was very readable and although I didn't particularly like Eileen I also didn't actively dislike her. She's certainly one mixed up individual and whether this is because of nature or nurture I'm not sure. ...more
I loved this book; didn't want it to end. I was so sucked into Mary & Frank's romance.
Set during the election campaign of Nixon / JFK we meet MaryI loved this book; didn't want it to end. I was so sucked into Mary & Frank's romance.
Set during the election campaign of Nixon / JFK we meet Mary, wife of Charlie, and Frank. Frank is a newspaper reporter and Mary and Charlie are part of the British diplomatic service based in Washington DC.
Mary and Frank meet at a party at Mary and Charlie's house. Charlie is inebriated, and is for most of the book. Mary, on a trip to NYC without Charlie, finds herself in contact with Frank and the rest, as they say, is history. Interspersed with historical references, this is the account of an extramarital affair. It isn't especially graphic in detail; the affair is strongly suggested.
Some reviews suggest it's a slow story but for me it set a good pace and it was one of those books I kept wanting to read and wanting more of. ...more
Interesting reflection on love, sadness, loss and survival during wartime. Well written, although at times I did get lost by the accounts of psychoanaInteresting reflection on love, sadness, loss and survival during wartime. Well written, although at times I did get lost by the accounts of psychoanalysis and found myself quickly reading over those sections. I liked the interconnected stories of the characters, even if the connections were slightly far fetched. The end was sad and shocking / unexpected but I think it was fitting to the story.
I've not read any other books by Faulks as yet but I think I'll change that soon. ...more
I tried reading this when it was first released and gave up. I tried again as I wanted an easier read. There's a lot of hype arouReally a 3.5 star...
I tried reading this when it was first released and gave up. I tried again as I wanted an easier read. There's a lot of hype around this novel given that it's soon to released as a film and comparisons to Gone Girl, a book and film I liked, made me more curious.
Rachel, a girl who likes a drink and taking train rides into central London, watches people in their houses as she passes by daily, and forms a story in her mind about a particular pair of individuals living in a house backing onto the railway track. She slowly becomes embroiled into their lives in twists and turns of the story.
Without going into plot lines, the story I thought was good, entertaining but not especially "thrilling". I think Gone Girl was more thrilling and certainly better written. I predicted whodunit about half way through GOTT whereas I was left guessing much more with Gone Girl.
I don't think the novel bad; it's worth a read and I think it'll make a decent film (despite the complete change of location. The little quips about British / London life were part of what was good about it for me). ...more
I'm probably slightly biased as I live in the town portrayed in this novel, but I thought this book was a very good read. I have previously read A KinI'm probably slightly biased as I live in the town portrayed in this novel, but I thought this book was a very good read. I have previously read A Kind of Intimacy and I liked her style then. This novel is the fictional account of a day in the life of an LDS family who reside in my home town (we are home to Preston Temple, England, as it's called...). She has some brilliantly accurate descriptions of my town which I loved, but the story itself is very good, covering everyone from the son who is due home from his 2 year mission to convert non-LDS, to the daughter who has made a mistake, and the other son who is about as far removed from his younger brother than can be imagined. The Mother has health issues and the Father, possibly worn down by the Mother, is seeking female "friendship" via dog walks in the local park. The stories converge, individuals connect, and I don't think it was in too far fetched a way. The conclusion is heartwarming.
I hadn't realised the author was previously a member of the LDS community. This book is therefore not a religious tract, but instead questions perhaps some of the structures of the LDS belief system. It is lighthearted, amusing in parts, and very well written. I see the many young (American) LDS around town and this novel, along with Carys Braynovel A Song for Issy Bradley: A Novel I have perhaps a better understanding of things like the "dresscode" for women, so it's been educational in that sense. ...more
Having read, and liked, other books by the author I decided to give this a go despite my reservations. I don't read books about psychics and paranormaHaving read, and liked, other books by the author I decided to give this a go despite my reservations. I don't read books about psychics and paranormal worlds because they usually hold no interest, and nor do I think them to be particularly believable (although I appreciate many enjoy the escapism).
This is the story of 2 sisters with psychic abilities and when one sister predicts an earthquake will occur, the ground and the environment surrounding both sisters certainly does change.
The story is a touch predictable in parts but we'll written. Have to say I didn't warm to any of the characters, but something still kept me engaged.