Thursday, 20 October 2016

Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Loosely based on the lives of his grandparents, Chris Cleave's Everyone Brave is Forgiven explores the impact of Wold War 2 on a small group of people. Mary from a wealthy and privileged background returns from finishing school when war breaks out and signs up for war work. She ends up at  school where here unorthodox approach means she doesn't fit in but it is here she meets Tom. Tom has decided not to sign up and working in education means he is restricted in the future from enlisting. Alistair an art restorer does sign up. Through these 3 main protagonists and their friends we see the impact of war - the deprivation, permanent stress from the Blitz and battle front and the shock and grief from losing friends and lovers.

Those who lived through this conflict grabbed life, lived it to the full and snatched brief moments of happiness.

Cleave's description of the suffering of those who served on Malta  is heartbreaking. The horror of the blockade, constant bombing and starvation lives on in the memory -  you can understand why an entire island was awarded the George Cross.

A challenging and sometimes difficult read this book would be a good one to read for a book group as there is plenty to talk about.

I was given a free copy of this book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Monday, 10 October 2016

The Museum of You

The Museum of You by Carys Bray tells the story of Clover and her father Darren from the point of view of both of them. Both are stuck in a a no-man's land caused by the death of Clover's mother when she was a baby. One hot summer, after years of waiting for her father to tell her about her mother, Clover takes things into her own hands. Her mother's things have been left in a room following her death, Clover decides to implement the curating skills she learnt on a Museum trip to tell the story of her mother's life.

The book then takes on a third voice as we see the real story behind the different artefacts that Clover unearths in the cupboards and boxes.
The book is about memory,grief, guilt and pain but it also explores the idea of what is a family. Clover has an uncle with issues, a stubborn grandfather, and a surrogate grandmother in her next door neighbour.

Clover is an entertaining character and the childlike innocent view that she brings to her mother's things is an interesting slant on the actual real-life story.
It is a quiet story but there is plenty to discuss in this novel for book groups exploring the issues of family, grief and misunderstandings.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Improbability of love

The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild is an interesting read. The book tells the story of a famous painting said to inspire love and jealousy in equal measure. A fixture in the homes of the great and the good down through the centuries this painting has taken on a life of its own and even has its own voice.

The painting is found in a junk shop by Annie wanting to find a present for her new boyfriend, skulduggery, greed in all its forms abound in this book. Russian oligarchs, art dealers, chefs, collectors, former Nazis and a whole host of characters each tell their own story. The story is told through a cast of characters including the painting itself. It explores the question of what is art? Who decides that something is art? Does art have to be permanent or can it be transitory like a great meal?

This would be a great book to talk about in a book group due the range of questions and subject matter.

The only drawback I would say is that the ending seemed slightly rushed but apart from that I enjoyed this book - and so did my book group.

Apprentice in Death

The latest title in the Eve Dallas and Roarke series is as good as ever. It does help if you have read the previous titles so that you are familiar with the characters and some of the previous story lines and that is why I don't think I can recommend it to book groups because of that reason.

I really enjoyed this title, it wasn't as dark as some of the previous titles in the series. That's not to say that the story of an apparent lone gunman seemingly randomly killing people in the heart of New York isn't dark. Eve is under pressure to solve this crime as quickly as possible as the police rush to solve the crime as quickly as possible as the those who live in the city worry as to who will be next.  With the help of Roarke, Eve and the force soon realise that there is more to this crime than meets the eye. Is the lone gunman not really so lone?

The combination of crime, police procedural and slightly futuristic element as the story is set in 2061 add to the story. The heart of the story is the relationship between Eve and Roarke, two damaged people who have built an extended family from the friends they have collected through their various crime solving stories.

A great escapist read!