This week has been a better reading week for me than last week, and so I want to write about the book I finished yesterday. I also want to give you my Top 10 (+1) Reads of 2012.
I just finished reading White Heat by M J McGrath, a novel of mystery set in the far north of Canada, on Ellesmere Island, and Greenland. Edie Kiglatuk is a teacher and hunting guide in Nunavut, where she has given up drink and wants her stepson, Joe, to complete his nursing training so he can have a good life in the community where he grew up. When one of the men on her latest hunting expedition is shot, the event is dismissed as an accident, although Edie is not happy with that conclusion. When, some time later, the other man from that first expedition goes missing, she begins to suspect that there is a connection, and that this is a situation that is much bigger than a couple of small-time hunting expeditions gone wrong. She proceeds to conduct her own investigation into the matter, with surprising results. This novel has been compared to Peter Hoeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow, and I can certainly see the similarities. Hoeg’s book takes place in I think Norway, and Smilla is a descendent of the natives of Greenland. Edie is also half-Inuit and half “qalunaat” (white), and of course the setting is similar to Hoeg’s book. Both Smilla and Edie are amazing in their resourcefulness and insight, and they are determined to uncover the truth no matter how much or in what ways their investigations are blocked by various parties. Smilla’s story is much “sexier” and the characters perhaps more likeable, but Edie and her group are more believable, at least to this reader. I also felt that I learned something about the Inuit culture and a bit of their history, including the shameful ways that they have been treated by the Canadian government and have been dismissed as “you people”. I found it compelling and well-written, and I guess this is the author’s first work of fiction. There was also a recommendation on the back of the book from an author, Liz Jensen, who wrote The Rapture, an eco-crisis novel which I loved. Having read McGrath’s novel, I want to read Jensen’s and Hoeg’s novels again! Alas, I have no time for that right now.
I’m also listening to Blue Diary by Alice Hoffman. It tells the story of a man and his wife and their son in a small town. The man seems too good to be true, so when he is arrested for the rape and murder of a girl in another town fifteen years earlier, their lives, and the whole town, are shattered. I’m not that far into it, and I have to say, I’m not loving it, but I will stick with it because it’s an interesting story. What I don’t really like is Hoffman’s writing style. There is too much “back story” to every encounter. For example, when Jory’s best friend, Charlotte, meets Barney, a local successful attorney, in the street, they can’t just have a conversation. Hoffman provides a whole history to their relationship, from his high school crush on her, and his now-successful career, his happiness and her failing marriage. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but there is so much of it that I as the listener begin to lose track of the actual encounter. I no longer remember that they are meeting in the street outside Jory’s house, and that the story is really about her. But I’m having a hard time finding a good audio book, so I will listen to this one to the end.
Now I have a list of my Top 10 (+1) Reads of 2012 (in chronological reading order):
Bel Canto Ann Patchett (book club selection)
Before I Go To Sleep S J Watson
State of Wonder Ann Patchett
*The Lightning Field Heather Jessup (“required reading” box)
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time Mark Haddon (book club selection)
*Before the Poison Peter Robinson
Detour Gerbrand Bakker
*The Large Harmonium Sue Sorensen (“required reading” box)
*The Town That Drowned Riel Nason (“required reading” box)
*Our Daily Bread Lauren Davis (“required reading” box)
*Tell It To the Trees Anita Rau Badami (“required reading” box)
(* - Canadian)
And I have a special request to anyone who reads my blog. I’ve been writing for nearly 2 years, giving my thoughts on books that I’ve read (and books I haven’t read!), audio books I’ve listened to, and other book-related news and events. I thought it would be a good idea to get some book recommendations from you, as I am going to have much more reading time in the immediate future and would love to know what you think I would enjoy reading. Your comments don’t need to be published if you would prefer that - they go first to my inbox, so you can indicate if you do not wish them to be published. I look forward to hearing from you and reading your recommendations.
Happy New Year!!
Bye for now!