“Pomegranate Soup” by Marsha Mehran
This was a bit twee for me but I can see why it was a success. It’s about three Iranian sisters who flee the revolution and set up a cafÃ© in the west of Ireland. The Iranian author was briefly married to an Irish man and died very tragically in the west of Ireland which gives the basically feel good story added poignancy.
“The Glorious Heresies” by Lisa McInerney
This work of literary fiction is set in Cork and has been very well reviewed. The author uses language very inventively and definitely has talent. Unfortunately, I hate this kind of thing. It’s all very gloomy – it doesn’t end well for anyone. It’s set in the most hopeless, despairing of environments and it feels like there’s no hope at all, ever. Also the language fizzes and sometimes, I don’t like fizzing language. I can see why it did well but not one for me.
“The Yellow Dog” by Georges Simenon
My father gave this to me, he said that I might like it as it was set in Concarneau in Brittany where I have been on holidays a bit in recent years. In fact, the Concarneau of 90 odd years ago is pretty different from the very touristy town we have today. However, I mildly enjoyed the story which was reminiscent of Agatha Christie type detective offerings and might try another Simenon. Happily, if I like them, there are plenty of them.
“Casting off” and “All Change” both by Elizabeth Jane Howard
The last of the Cazelet books about an upper middle class English extended family between the late 1930s and the 1950s. Gutted to have finished them. What a fantastic series of books. I might give it a couple of years and go back and read the lot again.
“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
A bit twee – an epistolatory novel about how a group of people in Guernsey got through the occupation during the second world war. It did make me want to visit Guernsey though.
“The Trespasser” by Tana French
I think Tana French is incapable of writing a bad novel but I thought this one was not quite as good as her other detective novels. The sense of place which is so wonderfully brought out in her other novels isn’t quite as clear in this one and it’s just a bit less good. Still very, very good though.
“Hillbilly Elegy” by JD Vance
This apparently explains Trump’s America. The author grew up poor in the rust belt and became middle class; he works like a translator, explaining his former life to the middle classes. Although he does refer to some research, it is basically a well-written autobiographical book. I am not convinced that I understand Trump’s America any better but my view that it is particularly unpleasant to be poor in the US is confirmed.
“The Hungry Grass” by Richard Power
Originally released in 1969 – the year I was born – this book takes an inside look at the clergy in rural Ireland and the changes that are coming from the point of view of a cranky priest. It didn’t do it for me. I did learn the expression “the hungry grass” though, apparently it’s a spot where someone who died in the famine was buried/died and if you walk over it you will always be hungry.
“Knights of the Borrowed Dark” by Dave Rudden
Daniel and Michael have been at me to read this. They’ve seen the author live twice in the library and they loved this book. I’m not above reading children’s books at all but I was a bit put off by the cover and description. I am delighted the boys persisted. What an excellent book. Great plot but also a really wonderful, inventive, clever writer. He writes beautifully. I will definitely read the next installment (due out shortly) and I would love to see the author write a book for grown-ups.
“Postcards from the Edge” by Carrie Fisher
I thought that this was a slightly fictionalised account of Carrie Fisher’s relationship with her mother but it’s not. It’s funny in places but basically episodic and inconclusive. I suppose it does give an insight into what it was like to be famous in Hollywood in the 80s if that’s your thing. Not mine.
“The Closed Door and Other Stories” by Dorothy Whipple
Dorothy Whipple is great, short stories are great. Win, win, really although a certain amount of female misery seems to be par for the course for Ms. Whipple.
The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Drama, intrigue and romance with a happy ending from the woman who gave the world “A Little Princess” what’s not to love? Not as good as “A Little Princess” though.