A couple of the books in this week’s reading list were much-hyped when they first came out, which I think sometimes makes me judge them more harshly. When I’m told a book is fantastic, I set such high expectations that sometimes it’s easy to be let down.
This week’s list was a bit of a mixture – some I loved, and others just didn’t wow me.
A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki
This is the diary of Nao, which has been transported via a tsunami, and will change the life of its reader. The only way I can describe this book is stunning. It calls into question things like what it means to be human, to be alive, and to live in the moment. It’s a story of loss, growing up, and family, and stories which have been left behind. I’d call this a must-read: it’s beautiful.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, Therese Anne Fowler
Set against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties, this is a story of a woman trying to find her own identity from behind her husband’s shadow. The jazz and indulgence throughout perfectly capture the era, and the book spans the entirety of the Fitzgeralds’ relationship. It’s moving, insightful, and an interesting fictional perspective on the life of someone whose name is well-known.
Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
The key question of this novel is: if you had a chance to keep re-living your life in order to make changes, would you be able to get it ‘right’? The dates, chapters and incidents are all repeated, each time with slight tweaks. It was certainly unusual, and I can see why it was so acclaimed when released, but it just wasn’t for me. I found it very hard to connect to anything in the book, and although it was technically very interesting and well-written, and the concept was interesting, I just wasn’t a fan.
I Let You Go, Clare Mackintosh
Jenna Gray has moved away to start afresh, but something happened years ago she cannot forget. There was great suspense throughout this novel, and the sections on grief were incredibly moving. The narrative flits between the third person and first person voices of Jenna and one other character from her past. From the very beginning you know there’s something sinister going on, but from the beginning of the second half I had already guessed the ‘big twist’/ It was still a page-turner with fascinating characters, but slightly predictable and clichéd in the second half. Some things, like finding the right house, the love story etc. were too ‘just right’ to be believable.
Let me know any recommendations for what needs to come next.