I like "people" books - books about people, how they think, what makes them tick, why they do what they do. I like to ponder how I might behave if I wI like "people" books - books about people, how they think, what makes them tick, why they do what they do. I like to ponder how I might behave if I was in their shoes. I like characters who are credible, believable, characters I can cheer on or yell "no, don't!" at. I like to care. Not many authors can make me care. Those who do become friends for life.
Morag Joss is now my friend for life. This is high quality writing; carefully crafted, neither sparse nor flowery, with a skilfully handled three-stranded plot that carried me along effortlessly. It's totally believable, horribly compelling without being melodramatic, heartbreaking but never sentimental.
So, what if that had been me? If I'd been the one responsible for the death of another? What might I have done? I'm left with the very uneasy feeling that I might well have behaved just as her character did.
This book is not about monsters who come out of the dark to get us. There are no mad axemen, no car chases, no paedophiles, no guns or drugs. It's about how any one of us could unravel, come apart, 'lose it'. And that to me is more terrifying than a shedload of serial killers. ...more
I loved this, the whole feel was so eerie and menacing and Cornwall so bleak and harshly beautiful. I didn't see the ending coming at all and it reallI loved this, the whole feel was so eerie and menacing and Cornwall so bleak and harshly beautiful. I didn't see the ending coming at all and it really shocked me. I loved the writing, what an artist Du Maurer was, weaving such atmosphere with her words, wonderful. I was impressed at how she got into the male lead's mind and described such powerful emotions, whereas Rachel really was quite a blank page. Very clever. ...more
For me this was kind of a book of two halves. The first half leading up to and including the going over the top I absolutely loved. The characters werFor me this was kind of a book of two halves. The first half leading up to and including the going over the top I absolutely loved. The characters were very well drawn and I warmed to all of them, including Julia. None of them could possibly have known what they were getting into. The description of going "over the top" was devastating and I read it in tears.
Thereafter it seemed like a different book to me. The descriptions of the reconstruction work were fascinating and very well researched and I enjoyed this part of the book. And Nadine's story of working in France and on the front line was again very shocking and incredibly moving.
For me it fell down at the end. It felt a bit contrived how they were all brought under the same roof on Christmas eve and that was the only part I didn't really like. I suppose the last few pages read like a romance, and you know how I feel about those! Of course it wasn't "happy ever after" for any of them but to me it feel a bit rushed.
So a 9 from me, although had the second part of the book been more like the first it might well have been a 10. ...more
What a wonderful book, I loved it. She created a whole town full of individual and believable characters. She's witty and very humane and a gifted stoWhat a wonderful book, I loved it. She created a whole town full of individual and believable characters. She's witty and very humane and a gifted storyteller. AND she managed to write a tortuous, dramatic love story without melodrama or saccharine sweetness. This will most definitely be in my top 10 this year. ...more
Written in 1932, this story feels remarkably modern. It is gently amusing, with some real laugh out loud moments. I warmed to Flora, who at first seemWritten in 1932, this story feels remarkably modern. It is gently amusing, with some real laugh out loud moments. I warmed to Flora, who at first seems quite self-centred and lazy but she comes into her own when dealing with the barking mad Starkadder family. This large motley collection of nutters, misfits and trapped souls bounce off each other in various unhealthy ways: Judith has 200 pictures of her son Seth on her bedroom walls; Seth himself keeps getting the hired help pregnant until, in a very amusing scene, Flora advises the girl on the use of condoms ("it's unnatural! Against God and Nature!"). Elfine is in love with the neighbouring landowners' eligible young son but his family refuse to take her seriously. They see her as a 1930s version of a chav.
How the farm manages to make any money I have no idea; one son busies himself all day counting the chickens' feathers, nobody is allowed to leave except one son who goes into town once a week to the bank. The bull (Big Business by name) is not allowed out of his shed, we never find out why.
Holed up her gloomy room over the kitchen is Aunt Ada Starkadder, nee Doom, the malignant matriarch. She once saw something nasty in the woodshed and has never been the same since. Any hint of change or of one of the family daring to even think about leaving brings on one of her 'attacks' and the whole family are terrified of upsetting her.
At 232 pages it's an easy read and very entertaining. It had me giggling on the tube. I look forward to reading the sequel Conference at Cold Comfort Farm, which brings back some old characters and introduces some new, equally crazy, ones.
And just what nasty thing did Aunt Ada seen in the woodshed all those years ago? Well, that would be telling. ...more
This is the second Morag Joss novel I've read, the first being The Night Following which I adored. This is every bit as good, although quite differentThis is the second Morag Joss novel I've read, the first being The Night Following which I adored. This is every bit as good, although quite different. The writing is a little more laid back and the pace is quite gentle. At the outset Jean is a housesitter, living all on her own in other people's houses, putting down no roots and with virtually no human contact. She prefers it that way. Fate brings her to Walden Manor, a beautiful, perfect family home. It also brings Michael and Steph into her life and we see the wonderful blossoming of Jean in the presence of their love. It's quite heartwarming and although each of them have their faults, I loved seeing three unhappy people find happiness and a sense of belonging.
At the same I had the awful knowledge at the back of my mind that it was all built on sand. This was not, after all, their house; it belonged to someone else. That idyllic summer could not last forever. When real life beings to intrude, they must find ways of protecting their fragile family.
Morag Joss has once again created fractured, flawed characters that I rooted for and forgave anything. My rational mind understood that the things they did were wrong, but my heart bled for them and hoped against hope that they could have their happily ever after. In the end I was torn between disgust and empathy, which I'm sure was what Joss wanted. I think she got it exactly right and I continue to be a huge fan. ...more