July Books

Book review

It feels like it’s been far too long since I actually read anything, let alone did a book review for this blog. Last weekend, I had the sniffles so was confined to bed, which gave me the perfect excuse to snuggle under the duvet devouring book after book. I finished Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train in four hours – firstly because I eat books faster than I consume cupcakes, and secondly, because its riveting. It’s one of those rare finds I pray to the gods of crisp spines and crisper words for – it’s pithy and evocative, with strong female characters.

I’m not going to give too much away, but it’s told through the voices of three women – Rachel, a divorcee with a drinking problem; Anna, the mistress now married to Rachel’s former husband; and Megan, the girl who seems to have it all until she goes missing. Rachel travels on the same train twice every day to a job she no longer has. She projects her longing for her former life onto a seemingly perfect couple she names Jess and Jason, whom she rides past every day. One morning, she witnesses something she shouldn’t have seen, and the fantasy she’s created unravels, causing the destruction of other people’s lives and the reclaiming of her own. Jess (who really is Megan) vanishes, and the hunt for her killer begins.

That is an extremely brief synopsis that does no justice to the subtle intricacies of the plot. I did guess who the murderer was, but I think that’s a reflection of my own superlative detective skills, rather than an absence of believable story twists. Hawkins paints a picture where no one is innocent and those most likely to be guilty are possibly the least to blame.

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Having read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and absolutely loved it, I was immediately drawn to Karen Joy Fowler’s Sister Noon. I finished it in an afternoon and got thoroughly told off by Tom for reading too quickly when I went into a depression when it was over. I adore the way Fowler writes and I love the historical intrigue that runs through every page. Set in San Francisco in the 1890s, the book is told from the perspective of Lizzie Hayes – a woman with a rich fantasy life and a rather mundane exterior, who spends her time fundraising for orphans at the Ladies’ Relief and Protection Society’s home for children. One day, the infamous Mammy Pleasant drops off a child at the orphanage, and Lizzie becomes entangled with one of history’s most mysterious and powerful female figures. A black woman living in a suspicious, secretive, and often hostile middle-class society, Mrs Pleasant is the queen on a chess board with no rules. Behind every scandal and success, the wealthy housekeeper is not all she seems – and to this day, hovers in the lesser paragraphs of each chapter of the town’s history at the time – an undefined enigma.

The book is beautifully written and combines fact and fantasy seamlessly. If you’re after something a little different then give this a try.

I’m sad now. I have post good-book nostalgia. I need something new to read, so if anyone has any recommendations, let this bookworm know please.

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