It’s been a busy old week, and I’m a bit behind on my reading lists. The good news is I’ve been reading lots so there’s enough to fill a good few posts over the next couple of weeks. The majority of this next list was pulled together by grabbing things from my parents’ bookshelf, and one is a trashy re-read from a few years ago. Here goes:
Beach Babylon, Imogen Edwards-Jones and Anonymous
This is another in the Babylon series I have mentioned before – ‘true’, insider accounts are drawn together in a narrative to give an insight into a week of certain luxury worlds. This one covers a week at a tropical island resort, where money is no object and the guests are demanding to the extreme. It’s told through the eyes of the resort manager, covering the staff’s side of things. It is an over-the-top, funny and trashy read, and perfect for a lazy weekend or holiday.
Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
This is the biographical account of Greg Mortenson, a mountaineer who stumbles across an impoverished Pakistani village and vows to help its people. I was not a fan of this book at all. It was fairly nicely written, but there was a buzz when this came out suggesting this story, or at least parts of it, are made up, and that’s definitely the way I was leaning. It could have been a third of the size, as there was a lot of unnecessary embellishment, and I just found no reason to warm to Mortenson.
There are too many things that don’t add up, such as what motivated strangers to give one man so much money, and how he manages to keep flitting to and from America despite having ‘no money’. His failed relationships are introduced but then brushed over as trivial, and I’m sure such an impoverished village wouldn’t keep demanding so much, so rudely, as opposed to being grateful for what they have received. Too much of this book just didn’t add up for me, and I’m inclined to believe it certainly has been embellished or falsified.
Mister Pip, Lloyd Jones
Mr Watts, the only white man on a tropical island, appoints himself teacher and teaches his children from the only book he has: Great Expectations. It is set against the backdrop of a civil war, and I thought every element of this book was just stunning. It’s almost poetic in the way it is written, and short, making it easy to read over a fairly short period, so you can view it in its entirety.
I know Great Expectations so well, and this intertextuality really added something to the narrative – there are so many themes within it I would not have thought of, but the way it is used and explored works incredibly well. This is a thoughtful novel, including themes such as war, childhood, education, race… It is a beautiful read, and well worth picking up.
A Partisan’s Daughter, Louis de Bernieres
Chris picks up Rosa in the street, assuming she is a prostitute, and she decides to go home with him. The two become friends and he spends hours listening to her stories. Rosa is Yugoslavian, and came to England illegally in the 70s, bringing many tales of pain, love and excitement. Readers and Chris are never quite sure which stories are true and which are Rosa’s fantasies, but that isn’t the part which matters.
The relationship between the pair is believable and it reads very well. Chris and Rosa take it in turns to narrate chapters, and the ending is beautiful.
Yet another random list, there. I never understand how people can read the same type of book over and over – I like to try different things!
What have you been reading recently?