I was part-way through My Best Friend’s Murder by Polly Phillips when it occurred to me it might be set in Australia. What I very much liked about that thought was not that it might be set in my home country, but rather it translated into any number of locations. An excellent idea for a debut author which would make the book relevant and relatable across a number of english-speaking markets. Of course there might (also) have been references to places or landmarks I missed or didn’t recognise!
I’m not sure why I wasn’t drawn to The Miseducation of Evie Epworth earlier. I’m a sucker for a weird book title. Think, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Not to mention almost everything by Swedish writer Fredrik Backman.
One of my friends loved this debut novel by Matson Taylor but it still took me months to get to it and I am so thankful I did. In fact, although I was keen for something light… a good psychological thriller about some murderous psychopath; from the opening lines of this novel I was transported into Evie’s world. It’s written in first person from 16 year old Evie’s point of view and almost akin to stream-of-consciousness thinking. Taylor gives Evie a really delightful voice and this is a quirky and often-funny read. At the same time however, there are moments of poignancy, some of which come as a result of life experience and realising things young Evie does not.
I must admit I hadn’t requested The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall for review. I hadn’t read the blurb so assumed it to be another book about a mother ‘losing’ a child or a child being hurt and – very literally – the mother being blamed, or at fault.
As someone without kids I struggle a bit with all of the books about parenthood and its highs and lows. But I kept hearing amazing things about this book so finally decided to give it a try. And I am soooo glad I did because I loved it and only later realised ‘fault’ was less about blame, than a geological reference. D’oh!
House of Correction by Nicci French is the latest standalone by the married couple Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. It’s an interesting book. I initially engaged with our lead Tabitha though was a little baffled by her naiveté about her predicament (ie. in jail on remand but assuming ‘the truth will set her free’). Then we see a side of her that had me realising she was perhaps not entirely a nice person. And – though I can cope with unreliable or unlikeable narrators if they’re psychopaths or sociopaths, I wasn’t sure I’d cope with one who was just a bitch.
The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish is the type of book that throws in an extra twist, just as you think you have things worked out.
In many ways it felt as if the narrative was ‘finished’ a number of times before it was. I kept looking at how many more pages remained wondering how on earth Candlish would eke the book out further. But… it’s because she takes the story in several directions we don’t expect… though wonder later how we didn’t predict their occurrence.
I really loved Anstey Harris’s The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, released in early 2019. It is an understated book. If I wanted to sound wanky I’d say it’s about the human condition. Or perhaps it’s about all of those things that happen in our lives that make us the people we are. That make us ‘why’ we are.
The Museum of Forgotten Memories offers something quite different. Again though there’s some quirk, past secrets and a focus on relationships.
I keep vowing to stop reading books about parenting. I realise actual parents probably enjoy them and can definitely relate; but the mummy (mommy) wars and good vs bad parenting dilemma aren’t really high on my relevance agenda. Having said that, I do read a lot of books about sociopaths damaged by bad parenting, so…. I guess there’s that.
As it happens, I decided to read Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan however because I’d read and enjoyed a previous novel, Anatomy of a Scandal, by the former political reporter.
There was so much I loved about Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen. Her writing is stunning. We alternate between three individual narrators and move to third person plural at times – which is something you don’t come across often. Those sections of the book…. the voices of the women in the marsh, are desperately tragic but also poignant. Not bitter, but strangely hopeful.
There is a sisterhood among them, these women in the marsh. Each time he brings another one, they understand what she has seen. p 160
I received an early copy of Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs. The Temperance Brennan series was one I once didn’t miss, though haven’t read many in recent years. My mother loved the TV series (Bones) and has read some of the books so I offered it to her first as I wanted to read it closer to its release date.
When she returned it she was a bit ‘meh’. I wondered if Reichs was starting to ‘phone it in’… I’ve talked about other long-running series and authors perhaps becoming too complacent or running out of ideas. However, instead I reminded how different my mother’s taste is to mine. Because I really loved it.