Thursday, 17 April 2008


AUTHOR: Patrick Gale


DATE READ: April 2008

NOTES: The story moves at a fast pace and is a very easy read. Lawrence’s wife leaves him, taking their young child, Lucy, following a violent quarrel. He is suspected of her murder and much is made of the case in the newspapers. But he is exonerated when she appears a few weeks later having been with an American she has befriended. After an intriguing beginning the book went downhill for me after that with too many wild coincidences and strange secrets. For instance he meets an American woman when he is working at a holiday complex in California and they are drawn to each other in a platonic way – surprise, surprise, it turns out that when Lawrence’s mother gave birth to him (illegitimately) he was a twin and the girl was given up for adoption.

And his father-in-law turned out to be a murderer….

All a bit of a disappointment after the previous two books I read by Patrick Gale.

Sunday, 13 April 2008


AUTHOR: E M Forster


DATE READ: April 2008
NOTES: A stunning read brimful with ideas and wonderful characters. Forster is very perceptive about class issues of the day and the place of money in society. Margaret says “few of us ……admit that independent thoughts are in nine cases out of ten the result of independent means”. The three families in the book represent different strata of society in Edwardian England. The Schlegels are intellectual, altruistic and middle-class, and interested in the arts and politics. The Wilcoxes are rich and money and property all important to their well-being. The Basts are working class and struggle financially and emotionally.
At the heart of the book is Howards End – the house that Mrs Wilcox inherited and wishes to bequeath to Margaret Schlegel. It plays an important symbolic role in the story – contrasting the idea of “home” and “house” (or prose and poetry).
Forster makes some interesting social comments that are still relevant a century later – the polluting role of the motor car in society, urban sprawl and the place of women.
A wonderful book that remains a classic.

Sunday, 6 April 2008


AUTHOR: Elizabeth Kostova


DATE READ: April 2008

NOTES: A re-working of the Dracula myth in a 20th century setting. Told through three narrators: Professor Rossi, Paul, his student and an unnamed sixteen year old girl who is Paul’s daughter. It is very intriguing at the beginning of the book but I soon got bogged down with all the detail that was included in this huge book. The author obviously did lots of research but was unable to discard any of it as being superfluous. We were also given lots in information that we really didn’t need to know – such as a description of every interior and of every meal eaten. This all slowed down the narrative and made the book very unwieldy.

The three narrators were not differentiated – all had a similar “voice”. But we do lots of travelling in the course of the 700 pages: USA, Oxford, Istanbul, Bulgaria, Hungary, France….. For gothic novel it lacked any real feelings of horror or evil. She attempted to link the powers of Dracula with Stalin and other East European leaders but this was all a bit feeble. Found I was turning the pages because I wanted to get to the end, not because I was desperate to find out what happened.