Loved this! Beautifully written account of a friendship between to boys and their journey to adulthood. Love, in its many forms, is the central theme.Loved this! Beautifully written account of a friendship between to boys and their journey to adulthood. Love, in its many forms, is the central theme.
Gustav is a young boy living in Switzerland, living with his cold hearted mother and the memory of his father. When he starts kindergarten he's told to help look after Anton who is upset. A friendship is formed. Anton, though, is Jewish, and Gustav's mother doesn't like Jewish people because of what happened during the war and the choices her husband made when trying to help Jewish people who sought refuge in Switzerland in the early days of the War before Switzerland, under (a perceived) threat of invasion by Hitler's Germany closed their borders to refugees (I might not have the history entirely accurate but I know Switzerland were neutral in WW2).
Despite his mother's opinion a strong friendship is formed between the boys in these post war years. Gustav seeks refuge from his difficult life, and spend time at the home of Anton. Anton seeks an escape from his parents desire for him to be a concert pianist. Their friendship continues to develop and as the story proceeds we get a greater insight into the back story of the relationship between Gustav's parents.
The story is told over a 50 year period, flitting back and forth, and the ending is just lovely. Well worth a read....more
I picked the winning book for my group's monthly read on the theme of prize winning books, and have to say I was a bit disappointed with my choice.
ThI picked the winning book for my group's monthly read on the theme of prize winning books, and have to say I was a bit disappointed with my choice.
The novel tells the story of one day in the lives of three women, one being Virginia Woolf. Each chapter is another part of the one of three character's days. I probably most enjoyed Mrs Brown's story, the 1950s LA housewife. It's a period of history I enjoy anyway and I thought this section well read and not overly complicated. I wasn't at all drawn into the story from 1990s NY. I found this story tedious to read. And I'm not sure on Virginia Woolf's story either, although it interested me to learn a little about. I'm not convinced that I'll be rushing to read any of her novels anytime soon.
There were common theme across each story and that was quite clever. I did find the tales a touch depressing given that each story focused on the meaning of life and ending life / suicidal thoughts.
I'd like to see how the film compares because maybe the NYC tale was told better and more accessibly. I can see that this book is very clever, can see how it might've won an award, but I was glad it wasn't too long a read. ...more
My mum always tells me about how hot the summer of my birthday was. And how long that summer lasted. Summer in the UK usually equals a few warm muggyMy mum always tells me about how hot the summer of my birthday was. And how long that summer lasted. Summer in the UK usually equals a few warm muggy days followed by dull warm days, rainy days, and on the rare occasion hailstones. Some readers must wonder why this rare long hot summer in the 70s featured so strongly in this book and I can only imagine the author was usually it to explain why the characters of this novel acted out of character. Basically nothing was normal that summer.
On a suburban street in the West Midlands Mrs Creasey has gone missing and Grace along with her friend Tilly (who has a mysterious illness meaning she wears a sou'wester or cardie even in the heat) decide to investigate the disappearance. They turn to the Vicar to ask for help and he uses the idea of Goats and Sheep to describe the way people behave. There are other characters on the street, all with interesting personalities and, as becomes clear, stories to hide.
As the story develops we see how each individual interacts with the others and it builds to an explanation of Mrs Creasey's disappearance. We see characters change, mature, and develop. I liked the focus on the current story interspersed with look backs to 1967 when events on the street changed things forever. I liked the twist at the end.
I thought it a well written novel; I liked the comments on life in the 1970s, and I think these built up to an interesting portrayal of suburbia.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC. ...more
Ok, so admittedly I picked this book up because it was being serialised on BBC and the adverts looked good. But I'm very glad I did and it's a 5* readOk, so admittedly I picked this book up because it was being serialised on BBC and the adverts looked good. But I'm very glad I did and it's a 5* read for me. I've got the tv series saved so can't compare as yet but if it's anything as good as the book I'm looking forward to watching it.
This book is possibly best described as a crime-thriller (a crime is indeed committed and we have a court case - it wasn't dry but actually interesting and quite clearly well researched) but I was more interested in the character studies, particularly that of the older woman and the relationships she engages in. The crime-thriller aspect of the novel was well written, engaging and I certainly wanted to know more, why things happened and how they were explained. But, at various times throughout the novel I was hit by sentences and paragraphs that summed up what it means to be a woman so eloquently that I stopped and re-read and reflected. Maybe it's that I've worked in academia as the character did and I understand some of the frustrations vented; maybe the same text wouldn't appeal to others.
Definitely a recommended read from me. The actual "story" is very engaging and I imagine most readers wouldn't be hit by, or interested in, what I identified with, and rather would focus on the main storyline and figuring out how the crime could be explained away.
I'm never sure whether a book will live up to the hype but in this case, for me, The Mothers met with my expectations. A 5* read for me.
Based on the lI'm never sure whether a book will live up to the hype but in this case, for me, The Mothers met with my expectations. A 5* read for me.
Based on the lives of three young people, Nadia (the main character), Luke (her sometimes lover) and Aubrey (her best friend, and to complicate things, later to be Luke's wife) we see them grow and reflect on decisions and choices made.
The story is told by "the mothers", older, experienced women who frequent the church Nadia attends with her father, and where Luke's father is minister. Aubrey later joins and is a more dedicated member than either Nadia or Luke. Only when Nadia has to make a choice, and as a consequence of this choice becomes more closely linked to the church, does her friendship with Aubrey begin. They become inseparable over the summer between finishing school and Nadia starting college / university.
Nadia, who recently lost (and searches for) her own mother retreats to Michigan (from San Diego) and engages in her education. Aubrey remains at home and over time develops a relationship with Luke. Time passes and Nadia eventually returns home due to a wedding and an accident. Things become complicated and the patterns of relationships change, some having long term impacts.
I was engrossed in the story and didn't really want it to end. I wanted to know more about each character and what the future help. As a debut novel I thought this excellently written and look forward to the author's future works. ...more
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