BookerTalk

Sample Sunday: Reviewing the Bs

Sample Sunday is when I take a look at all the unread books on my shelves and decide which to keep and which to let free. The goal isn’t to shrink the TBR as such, but rather it’s about making sure my shelves have only books I do want to read.

Past Sample Sunday posts have looked at three books linked by a common theme. Now I’m just looking through my shelves in alphabetical order of author surname. Last week tackled the As. This week it’s the turn of the Bs

The Good Neighbour by A J Banner

This is a psychological thriller that I don’t recall buying. I suspect, purely because I have the e-version not a paperback, that this is the result of getting carried away late one night when confronted online with bargain offers.

I know nothing about the book but the blurb tells me it’s set in a place called Shadow Cove, Washington, which is described as the kind of town everyone dreams about. Two newcomers discover there is a darker side to this place and have their lives turned upside down one evening. In the aftermath the wife discovers secrets that force her to doubt everything she thought was true—about her neighbors, her friends, and even her marriage.

The Verdict: Probably one to let go. I’m not a big reader of thrillers and this doesn’t sound all that different from others I have on my shelves. Harper’s Bazaar suggested it’s “a book that could be the next Gone Girl” but I’ve seen that analogy applied to so many books in recent years that it no longer has any effect .

A Dry White Season by Andre Brink

This book was initially banned in South Africa the government considered its unflinching critique of apartheid as subversive. Brink managed to print 3,000 copies privately and distribute them in the Afrikaner “underground.” The novel focuses on the death during detention of a man wrongly suspected of being a black activist and the effect this has on a middle-aged, married Afrikaner schoolteacher and father. He has hitherto accepted the apartheid system, has never entertained a black in his home or set foot in a black city such as Soweto. When a black man who works as a cleaner in his school is killed by security police, the schoolteacher is slowly sucked into opposition to the system. 

The Verdict: Definitely one to keep. I love books set in South Africa and have read several that focus on the apartheid era. Brink will be a new voice for me.

Peking Picnic by Ann Bridge

This debut novel was written in 1932 by a diplomat’s wife based on some of her experiences of living in China. The main character is Laura Leroy, a willowy looking woman with a habit of daydreaming but much admired within the Peking diplomatic bubble. Some of these characters go on an expedition to a famed temple, enjoying a lavish picnic, breathtaking scenery and an air of romance. It becomes a journey of discovery when the party is confronted by bandits, forcing each person to consider their lives and their relationships.

The Verdict: Keep. I’ve seen several reviews which have praised this book though they also warn that it’s a slow burn

What do you think of the decisions I’ve reached? If you’ve read any of these books I’d love to hear from you.

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