Thursday, 3 November 2011

Thursday evening tea and book talk...

I don't often post at night, but this is the first chance I've had to do so in this unusually busy week, so here goes...

I wanted to talk about a book I read recently that I absolutely could not put down.  You may recall that a film came out a few years ago, "Notes on a Scandal" starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, about a middle-aged high-school teacher who has an affair with a much younger student.  I went to the theatre to see this film, and then I borrowed it from the library so my husband could watch it.  It was an interesting film, but I wouldn't say it was one of the best films I've ever seen.  Well, I was reading book summaries in a fiction e-newsletter and the book upon which this film was based was mentioned.  I read the summary, then I read some reviews, and they all praised this book, whose actual title is What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal, by Zoe Heller.   I found it in the library catalogue and placed it on hold.  When it arrived the next day, I read the first page, and I could hear Judi Dench's voice reading the novel in my head.  Although I already knew the story, I really couldn't put that book down, it was that compelling.  I think they did a fabulous job of adapting the book into a film, and the casting was dead-on.  I flew threw that book in just a few days.  I'd never read anything by Heller before, and I must say, I was totally impressed by the way she could make this reader feel compassionate towards two rather unlikeable main characters.  She also left many questions unanswered, and left the reader wondering just how unreliable the narrator really was.  I highly recommend this compelling read, but be prepared for some scandalous scenes.

I also listened to an audiobook written by Nicci French, Until It's Over.  Some time ago I listened to my first audiobook by this author (actually a husband-and-wife team of authors) entitled The Other Side of the Door.  While I found this first psychological suspense challenging to follow, as it is comprised of alternating Before and After chapters (I find it harder to follow time shifts in books when listening to them rather than reading them, as I can't easily go back and check who is doing what at which point in the story), it held my interest until the end and made me think that I might be interested in trying something else by this author.  And so a few months later I downloaded Until It's Over, which tells the story of Astrid, a bike courier in London who becomes involved in first a bike accident, then three murders.  She is considered a suspect until the end of the sixth part in the audiobook's ten parts.  Once the murderer is revealed, the rest of the book tells his or her story leading up to the murders.  I tried to listen to the rest, but this part was just not that interesting.  I guess this character and storyline, starting back when he or she was in gradeschool, failed to hold my attention, so I deleted the audiobook without finishing it.  I wondered if that was wrong, but knew I was done with this story, so I just did it!  I don't know whether I would like to actually read books by Nicci French, but perhaps I should give it a try, as I may have an easier time following the stories on the printed page.

That's it for tonight.  I want to leave you with a quotation (well, a paraphrased quote from memory) from another audiobook I finished awhile ago, The News Where You Are by Catherine O'Flynn.  The setting is a nursing home in London, and a man is visiting his mother there.  For many of the staff at this home, English is not their first language, and the mother is complaining about this.  She illustrates her concerns by telling her son about a situation where she is trying to explain to a staff person that she likes her tea weak.  The staff person doesn't understand right away, but then seems to have an "A-ha" moment and she responds to her client, "Ah, week, week, not every day!", and the mother says to her son, "I haven't had a cup of tea since!" I don't know why I remember this particular scene in an otherwise unmemorable, but still enjoyable and well-written, book, but it makes me chuckle whenever I think of it. 

Bye for now!
Julie

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