The Reading List #14
Weekends are perfect for curling up with a new book, so here are my thoughts on the latest things I’ve been reading…
History of a Pleasure Seeker, Richard Mason
Piet Barol has found himself a job as a tutor in a wealthy Amsterdam mansion. The year is 1907 and he is a young man with big ambitions. The book follows his journey of self-discovery, and setting out on the path to earn his fortune.
I enjoyed the ‘bildungsroman’ premise and the overall storyline, although some elements I found a little too far-fetched. There are some quite intense sexual scenes, which were slightly unexpected and maybe overplayed a little, but they don’t keep appearing throughout the whole story, so it does fit with the period of his life. Overall, it’s a pretty good book, but I wouldn’t shout about it from the rooftops; I feel like it’s something that has been told many times before.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
In 1946, Juliet receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, of Guernsey, who has come into possession of one of her old books. They begin to exchange letters, and Juliet learns of a literary society that Adams was a part of during Guernsey’s years under German occupation. She decides to write a piece on the society, and begins exchanging letters with many other members, whilst also corresponding with her publishers and agent throughout.
The pace of the letters picks up dramatically as the book goes on, and it’s incredibly well woven together, considering it is only in letter form, and the letters are flying between so many different characters. It wasn’t confusing, and I didn’t lose the thread of the story. I’ve got to say, the second half of the book wasn’t as much my cup of tea, I’d have preferred it to stay where it was, but it’s a good little book. It’s also interesting to hear about Guernsey under occupation, as it’s a place I knew little about.
A Fraction of the Whole, Steve Toltz
Jasper tells the story of his father and his Uncle Terry, who led lives of crime and mischief. It includes a handbook for criminals, family, illness and extracts from journals, and parts are narrated by his father.
This is quite the epic family tale, and I was really impressed. It is hugely funny, but it is a clever, dark humour, often laughing at just how terrible some people have it… It was a classy, well-judged novel, and I’d recommend it to plenty of people.
The Soldier’s Wife, Joanna Trollope
Alexa’s wife Dan returns from Afghanistan, but his head doesn’t seem to have returned to family life. The whole family are trying to return to normal, but finding it a lot harder than they anticipated.
I loved parts of this – the frustrations, the tiptoeing around one another, and the struggles for the men on returning home were all well written.
I felt the storyline got a bit more dramatic than it needed to – focusing on struggles within just the one family would probably have been enough, but overall this was an easy read with a really interesting subject matter.
Have you read any of these books?