Thursday, 19 April 2012

What I've been reading

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To Let
by John Galsworthy

"Soames Forsyte has built a good life for himself with his second wife Annette. And he has a new focus and purpose; his beautiful, beloved daughter Fleur. But when Fleur, a vibrant and impetuous young woman, catches the eye of warm-hearted and idealistic Jon Forsyte at a chance meeting, it seems fate is determined to torture them all with the hurts of the past."
Unusually, I didn't write about this book straight after I read it; I don't know why, because it was just as good as the previous two. We have reached the end of the lives of all the second generation Forsytes, and have lost a few of the third generation too, but I imagine there is plenty more in store for these fourth generation children who are now entering the 1920s with their short dresses and wayward behaviour.

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The Secret Scripture
by Sebastian Barry

narrated by Stephen Hogan
"Nearing her 100th birthday, Roseanne McNulty faces an uncertain future, as the Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital where's she spent most of her adult life prepares for closure. Over the weeks leading up to this upheaval, she talks with her psychiatrist, Dr. Greene, and their relationship intensifies and complicates."
Another random choice from Audible, but somewhat better than previous selections. Set in Ireland, the ancient patient in the 'mental hospital' is being assessed for release into the community in the present day, but the psychiatrist realises he has never investigated the circumstances of the patient's actual committal. I should have seen it coming, but the twist took me by surprise, although more detached readers would have put all the pieces together long before I did.

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Small Gods
by Terry Pratchett

"Brutha is a novice with little chance to become a priest - thinking does not come easily to him, although believing does. But it is to Brutha that the great god Om manifests, in the lowly form of a tortoise."
I can see now why I never managed to read one of Pratchett's books in print rather than audio - it started so slowly that I thought I would never reach any coherent narrative. But it accelerated wildly to the point where I started skipping paragraphs just to find out what happened next, and enjoyed his little touches with language, like Djelibeybi, which is a place that slaves run away to for two weeks a year. I still prefer these books in audio, I think, but thanks to Hugh anyway for lending me three of them in print!

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To Say Nothing of the Dog
by Connie Willis

"Ned Henry has been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s searching for a Victorian atrocity called the bishop’s bird stump. Verity Kindle, a fellow time traveller, inadvertently brings back something from the past, and now Ned must jump back to the Victorian era to help Verity put things right — not only to save the project but to prevent altering history itself."
This is one of my all-time favourite books ever, given to me by sister D when I moved to Coventry 12 years ago. To this day I don't know why she chose it, I have never remembered to ask, because it's by an American author who isn't well-known or much published over here, although Coventry Cathedral does feature tangentially within the story. The title comes from the subtitle of Jerome K Jerome's book "Three Men in a Boat," and it has a similar style; it is funny, witty and a cracking story. I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Lola II loves it too, and has even read the whole thing out loud to Mr M.

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