Time for a catch up

sundaysalonEarl Grey tea is brewing; the birds are having a jolly time in the pond and I can hear the faint sound of a lawn mower. It’s a glorious Sunday morning here. Perfect timing to catch up on the week just ending (or last week for those of you who consider Sunday the beginning of a new week).

It was a quiet week on the blog for me. Deadly silent in fact. I managed just one post in eight days. In part this was because my niece came to stay while she did a week’s work experience with me to help her make some decisions about career options post university. So one can hardly have a house guest and then bury one’s head every night in a computer can one??

When I did have some spare time, it was entirely focused on reading. I had been over-enthusiastic on the library reservations site a few weeks ago and ended up with four books arriving all around the same time. I’m not the fastest of readers and hate rushing books. Unfortunately some of these titles couldn’t be renewed so The Confessions of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hodgson was returned yesterday without ever having been opened.

I did however read The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett. It’s years since I came across a novel I simply could not put down. This was one of those books. It’s a superbly constructed book of three separate story lines and two characters that asks the question many of us ponder at different points in our lives: what if I had done X instead of Y? How would my life have been different? If you enjoy well written stories about relationships, this is probably going to delight you.

I also finished a delightful short story collection by Carys Davies called The Redemption of Galen Pike and, unusually for me, reviewed almost immediately.

Now I’m part way through the third book I found through the 2015 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered award winners; The Offering by Grace McCleen. It’s told from the perspective of Madelaine who has been an inmate of a mental health facility for the last 20 years; taken there after a breakdown at the age of 14. Through hypnotherapy, she is forced to return to the days when she lived on a remote island with her evangelistic father, deeply confused about what she believes to be her relationship with God. The novel is clearly building up to a point where McCleen reveals what caused Madelaine’s breakdown. Parts of the book are very moving but I’m not yet sold on the novel as a whole.

What have you all been up to? Have you uncovered any hidden gems recently?

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on July 19, 2015, in Book Reviews, British authors, Jerwood Fiction Uncovered, Sunday Salon and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I am quite familiar with being overly enthusiastic with library reservations! I’m doing a bit of juggling on that front myself at the moment!

  2. Hardly hidden but I read My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante recently and was completely gripped by it and had to immediately go off and buy the second one in the series.

  3. Oh I look forward yo hearing what you have to say about McCleen’s novel. I read her debut and quite enjoyed it.

  4. I didn’t find a hidden gem since it’s well-known but I LOVED Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin.

    • How odd, I was looking at a James Baldwin novel in a second hand shop yesterday and debating whether to buy it. I resisted in the end (had bought too many already this month).

  5. I found a hidden gem in Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts, and since this was the first novel I’ve read by this author, I have more to look forward to

  6. I have been in two minds about the book, but having now added your positive review to Annabel’s and Susan’s, I will probably have to read The Versions of Us. I’ve just finished Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin and I am sorry to say I was really disappointed with it. I love her novels usually, and was expecting this one to be a corker, but it was overlong, dull and too choppy with disparate strands. What a shame! I’ve also been reading a lot of Janice Galloway lately. I’ve enjoyed her two volumes of memoir most – This Is Not About Me and All Made Up. She is a very clever writer with a poet’s eye for detail.

    • shame you didnt like the Atwood.I find her a bit hit and miss in terms of my taste. Oryx and Crake I couldn’t get past page 50 but I did enjoy the Blind Assassin. The Versions of Us takes a little getting used to because you’ll be trying to keep track of all the characters but I don’t think it matters if you fail – the story is good enough to pull you on

  7. Only one taken back? I think that sounds pretty good. When I’ve taken out several when they all came in on hold at the same time, I ended up sending a lot more than that back.

    I only read one book this week, but it was a good one, A Red Death by Walter Mosley. It’s the second in a series about a black detective in California in the 1940s whose name is Easy Rawlins. I’m looking forward to continuing the series at some point.

    • I did amaze myself Bryan – when I collected them from the library I was certain I wouldn’t get to even half of them. Your detective story sounds appealing.

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