Shelf Life – July 2014

Started the month on a high with Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (I dread the day I have to try and say that name out loud). It’s testament to how good the book was that even though it had me sobbing on a plane, I still consider it to be a positive start to the month. I’ve now read two of Adichie’s books (this one and Americanah) and loved them both, I think her writing is funny and smart, with the power to be heart-warming and heart-breaking. I have a feeling I’m going to be reading a lot more of her books.

Moved from Purple Hibiscus to Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (another name I am much more comfortable writing than saying). This is another beautifully written novel and another sad story but in a very different way. One of the quotes on the back of the book summed it up for me perfectly: “brilliant and quietly devastating”. I don’t think I expected to enjoy this one as much as I did, but I’m starting to really appreciate the ‘quiet novel’.

From butlers to spies: A Perfect Spy by John le Carre. I must say I was fairly daunted when this got picked out of the lucky dip, because it’s a bit of a monster. Naturally, my first thought was “damn, this is going to mess with my reading stats”, but I ended up moving through it pretty swiftly. It was enjoyable and readable, if a little too long. It started to feel a bit self-indulgent in the middle and there were definitely whole chapters that I didn’t see the point of. I also thought it left a few issues and characters unresolved – brother had 700 pages to work with, the least he could have done was tidied up the loose ends.

Any issues I might have had with Le Carre were quickly forgotten as I moved onto a book that I added to my list of favourites (in permanent marker) after just a few pages. Home by Marilynne Robinson, companion novel to another favourite, Gilead. Wow, just wow. Another quiet novel, and just the absolute perfect example of the style. This is one of those books that defies all adjectives, to describe how much it meant to me all I can do is mash my keyboard with joy and send Robinson mental messages to hurry up and write the third in the Gilead trilogy. I need it now. The only problem with Home was that it presented me with the classic reading hazard of not wanting to stop reading but also not being able to see the words on the pages through the tears.


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