I’m going to keep updating this entry. It’s dual purpose, both for my own memory and also as a public service sort of thing. If I’m inflicting my blog on you, I might as well give something back to the community, eh? So… ta da! Book reviews from my time on the road.
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
Set in India in the early 1950s, this is possibly the longest novel I have ever read, but also one of the most absorbing. It captures India perfectly with its imagery, its difficulties and struggles, its uniqueness. I could have read this book forever, and its characters will stay alive forever. Read it now!
The Virgin Suicides – Geoffrey Eugenides
Strange, whimsical, confusing, this story of a family of sisters who all commit suicide will leave you thinking about the confusion of relationships, both inside a family and with the world at large. You could cheat and watch the film.
The Narnia Chronicles – CS Lewis
Up until now I’ve only read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe from this series. While it is without question the strongest in the set, the others have some magical moments as well. Reading them instantly transported me back to childhoood. Comfort reading at its most powerful.
Digital Fortress – Dan Brown
Rubbish. But you knew that already.
A Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I’m ashamed that, despite owning this book for a number of years, it took a deserted beach in Sri Lanka to motivate me into picking this up. Marquez is well derseving of the accolade ‘genius’. His imagination is outstanding in creating a city where the real seamlessly merges with the imaginary.
The Romantics – Pankaj Mishra
This has a very nostalgic air, with a certain sense of detachment that led to me being frustrated with the main characters. There were also a few non-starters in terms of plot lines. It didn’t really grab me, and I was glad to finish it.
What I loved – Siri Hustvedt
What I loved was this book. It fools you into thinking it’s a memoir of the New York Art scene in the 70s and 80s, but turns into something altogether more gripping. Recommended.
Portrait of a lady – Henry James
Ooh, he’s a cynical one, that Henry James. This is a wonderful novel, although deeply frustrating in terms of how it ends up – but I suppose that is the point. I really enjoyed this, and will look out for other Henry James novel in the future.
Prep – Curtis Sittenfield
Sittenfield is a very, very talented writer, and I enjoyed this book immensely. It manages to capture the cringing horror that is the average teenager. Lee, the protagonist, is highly self-aware and self-critical, as she fights to find her natural place at an upper-crust prep school. It contains endearing features and laugh-out-loud moments in equal measure.
Eve Green – Susan Fletcher
Well written and sculpted into a clever story, this brings the Welsh countryside to life – although not always in the most flattering way.
Star – Danielle Steele (especially for Sarah!)
In terms of candy floss reading, nobody does it better than Danielle Steele. I ripped through this in about half an hour, but I guess it wasn’t the worst half hour I’ve ever spent.
Tears of the Giraffe – Alexander McCall Smith
I’m a big fan of McCall Smith, with his Ladies Detective Agency series. Not the most challenging literature, but the descriptions of Botswana and the gentle people who live there make you want to pack your bag and go. The second in the series, this is much the same as the first one, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
Billy – Pamela Stephenson
I’ve wanted to read this for a long time. Despite the obvious bias – Stephenson is Billy Connolly’s wife, and so isn’t entirely impartial – this book blends the hilarity and insanity of living with the genius that is Billy Connolly with the tragedy and harshness of his early years. I howled with laughter, but was also close to tears on more than one occasion. A testament to the strength of human nature.
Trading Up – Candace Bushnell
Disappointing, really. I mean, it was never going to be Pulitzer stuff from the woman who gave us Sex and The City, but the wit and empathy present in SATC is completely missing from this. Don’t bother.
First They Killed My Father – Loung Ung
A moving first-hand account of life in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. The author tells in tragic detail how her family was torn apart. I was especially moved by the note in the front that says: if you had lived in Cambodia during 1975-1979, this would have been your story, too.
White Teeth – Zadie Smith
Clever, funny, addictive, I loved this book. It’s a bit predictable at parts, with some of the characters becoming caricatures, but this story of three families coming to terms with race, immigration, history and life in modern-day Britain is essentially very well done.
Currently reading: The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
Will review when I’ve finished it!