Mini reviews of my recent reading.
Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
This is the steamy story of a day in the life of a young orphaned housemaid, Jane Fairfax, as she spends a hot summer’s day in 1924 with her upper class lover. The hot flush of their lovemaking is beautifully conveyed, both by the descriptions and by the picture on the cover. The events of this day prove pivotal in the lives of all the characters, especially Jane.
The story is cleverly told as it condenses both her past life and her future, rather unexpected, career into this heady short novel. I loved the sensuous, emotional atmosphere of this book which I read in one engrossing session.
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanne Cannon
Another hot summer evoked by this book, that of 1976, a summer I remember well. This wasn’t an easy book to read as, I admit, I sometimes lost track of all the characters so had to refer to the diagram of the cul de sac at the front.
The story is mainly told through the naïve wondering eyes of ten year old Grace, though it also harks back to significant events in 1967. It’s a wonderful snapshot of the time, with many memorable little references, plus quasi-religious themes as Grace and her best friend, Tilly, try to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Mrs Creasy, and find God at the same time. This they do in a drain pipe. They also unwittingly solve the unexplained events of 1967.
This is a delightful story, very evocative of the time with quirky characters and humour.
Coffin Road by Peter May
This is a complicated eco thriller which cleverly begins with a man swept ashore with no idea who he is. As it twists and turns, the book gradually reveals his identity with some false leads along the way.
The story also involves a rebellious teenage girl still angry at her father’s apparent suicide, and a detective trying to fit all the pieces together, just like the reader.
There may have been a bit too much eco detail in this, almost as if the author had done all his research and we were getting it, whether we liked it or not. But, on the whole, the story gripped and told some necessary concerns along the way about our dependence on bees and the need to be wary of pesticides.