Sunday, 16 September 2018

Book talk on a hot, lazy Sunday afternoon...

There seems to be no end to the humid days around here, or so it seems to me as I try to stay as cool as possible during the hottest part of the day.  I’m trying to use the air conditioning as little as possible, so went for a long walk early this morning while the temperature was still bearable; hence the late post time, but hopefully I’ll finish before the actual time scheduled to get this out to email subscribers.  I’ve got my delicious cup of not-so-steaming chai tea and not one, but two!, date treats, a slice of homemade Date Bread and a delicious Date Bar. YUM!!
Early last week I read Snap by Belinda Bauer.  Bauer is a British crime writer who has a number of mysteries to her name, but I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by her before.  This novel begins with a mother and her children travelling on a road and needing assistance. The mother leaves the kids in the car and walks alone to find a phone to call for help, but she never returns.  After an hour goes by, eleven-year-old Jack carries his three-year-old sister Merry while Joy shoulders the diaper bag as they head out to meet their mother. What they find instead is the receiver hanging from the phone box and no mother.  Eventually someone stops to help, but by then the damage has been done - Jack was meant to be in charge, and in his mind, he’s failed miserably. Three years later, Jack is fourteen and taking care of his family as best he can after his dad went out one day and never returned.  He will do anything to keep the family together, and so keeps up the appearance of a clean, tidy and well-organized home, but the reality of their situation is much different. Jack relies on theft to supply the family with food and the funds to keep the house running at the barest minimum.  When he enters a house one night with the intent to steal, he discovers a clue that may lead to the truth about what happened to his mother, but he must count on the actions of others to bring this to light or risk being discovered himself. What unfolds are parallel stories that are sure to keep you turning pages until the final satisfying paragraph.  I thought I’d maybe read a review of this book and put it on hold based on that, but I realized that this novel has been longlisted for the Man Booker prize. It was a good mystery, for sure, with solid characters and interesting storylines, but I’m rather surprised to find it chosen as one of the 10 best books published in the Commonwealth countries and the US in the past year, according to the selectors.  I guess they might be trying to make the nominees more accessible to more readers. It was an interesting read, and this may have served to introduce me to a new mystery writer, but I won’t have time to read anything else by her for a while.
I also tried reading three other nominees, The Overstory by Richard Powers, about trees (not for me, too magic-realism-ish), Sabrina by Nick Drnaso (graphic novel - too visual, obviously!) and Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, which started out really well but then became more about the flight of the first hot-air balloon than about the experiences of main character, Washington Black, which totally shut down my interest.  So I picked up The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak, which I will eventually have to read because it is our next book club choice, and I’m enjoying it as much this time as I did during my last reading.  I’m glad I started early, too, as I’ve been so busy this weekend I’ve barely made any headway on this 400+ page novel. A proper post about this book next week, and highlights from our book club meeting, too,
That’s all for this afternoon.  Stay cool and read in the shade!
Bye for now…
Julie

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