“Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel
I prepared a big long spiel on this and then I lost it. I can’t face doing it again. Here is the summary version. This is about Thomas Cromwell who was Henry VIII’s chancellor. Some kind of great, great, great uncle of the more famous Oliver. Until about page 350 I thought that this was one of the best books I had ever read, I was entranced with it, I couldn’t speak highly enough of it and I kept accosting random strangers and telling them about it. But, at page 350 or thereabouts, I went off it: I got increasingly tired of the way everyone was always very clever and each sentence uttered was capable of several different interpretations, something not clarified by the author’s tendency to refer to her hero only as “he”; I was unconvinced about why our hero attached himself to the Boleyn interest – this is not, in my view at all clearly explained (and as those of us who were forced to do Othello for the Leaving know, lack of motive for a principal character is a major flaw in any work); Cromwell is given a very modern English liberal sensibility, this became annoying and deeply unconvincing; and, the endgame with Thomas More drags on forever.
Still and all, well worth a read.
“The Mysterious Affair at Styles” by Agatha Christie
Read while recovering from Wolf Hall. You know, Agatha Christie, undemanding.
“Skulduggery Pleasant – Dark Days” by Derek Landy
Really lovely to read this series set in Ireland. Other than that, teenage zombie, vampire, alternative universe standard fare. With a skeleton.
“The Famished Road” by Ben Okri
That’s it, I’ve had it with magical realism. Never again. I should have been warned by the following quote from a review on the back “..an epic poem that happens to touch down this side of prose…When I finished the book and went outside, it was as if all the trees of South London had angels sitting in them.” And the following: “Overwhelming…just buy it for its beauty..” You certainly wouldn’t want to buy it for its plot. Because there is none. 500 pages of the spirit child and his visions set to a backdrop of grinding poverty. I am so glad to have finished this book. Poetry that lands just this side of prose is not meant to be read in 500 page dollops in my view. If this book had been written in four stanzas, I might really have enjoyed it.
“Tanglewreck” by Jeanette Winterson
I got a present of this from my godson and I really enjoyed it. It’s Jeanette Winterson’s first foray into the world of children’s fiction and she does a good job. I think that she is a fantastic writer and that is a huge help. Her plot is a bit convoluted and owes a lot to Philip Pullman’s “Dark Materials” trilogy. Mrs. Coulter and Regalia Mason are closely related. Still, I would definitely read another of her offerings for children.
I have lost my copy of “Cold Comfort Farm”. I am bereft.
Finally, what would you think if your husband, a man who normally reads literary fiction, came home with a book entitled “Another Man’s Life”? And further, he had recently turned 40. And further the book was described thus on the dust jacket:
“Another Man’s Life is a brilliant, funny and honest novel about living every man’s dream – whatever that is….
Tom is married with kids. After losing two jobs in as many years, he is now a full-time ‘house-husband’ with the self-confidence of a mid-leap lemming.
Sean, his twin brother, runs his own business, wears handmade suits and sleeps with a succession of beautiful women. The problem is: they are both miserable.
Sean craves stability and domestic bliss. Tom dreams of a day when his shirt is not dripping with his children’s snot.
So, the brothers decide to use the trick of their birth to live each other’s fantasies; to have another man’s life for two weeks.
But things are never quite so simple and the truth of what these brothers really want begins to emerge…”
Is it any wonder I’m growing my hair?