Sunday, 26 January 2020

Tea, treats, books, repeat...

Steaming chai tea, freshly baked Date Bread, a delicious date bar… what could be better to cheer the spirit on this rather crappy-weather weekend?
I wanted to say a couple of things about our book club discussion on Monday night.  There were five of us at the meeting, and exactly 50% of us had read the book; that is, two had finished, two had not read it, and I had read half the book.  I just thought that this was interesting. No one loved the book, and everyone found it incredibly difficult to read. One member who finished the book said that it was more a history lesson than a novel; another said it was just one long rant.  The two who finished did not agree with the comment written by a member of the Booker Prize judging panel who said Milkman is "enormously rewarding...if you persist with it”.  They felt it was an accomplishment to have finished it, but this would not be a book they would recommend… to anyone!  I am determined to finish as well, but I need a break, so I’ve renewed my copy from the library and will go back to it later.     
I started reading The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan, which I thought would be totally engrossing, a real page-turner, but it didn’t grab me, so I picked up another older book by her, The Perfect Girl, which certainly proved to be both engrossing and a page-turner.  Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, I had less reading time last week than usual, so I haven’t finished it yet, and I have to set it aside for a bit because I have another book club meeting on Saturday and I have to read that selection, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.  I’ll tell you about that next week, but I started it yesterday and right from the first page I was reading through tears, as Enzo, the poor dog who is the narrator, is literally on his last legs and his owner must decide whether to prolong his dog’s life or make the most difficult decision a pet owner ever has to make.  I would never have picked this book, as I have a hard time reading books about pets (you know they always have to die, and it is heartbreaking), but it was recommended by one of my members so it ended up on the list. I’m sure it will be an interesting read, and not every page will be heartbreaking, but I’m preparing myself by keeping a box of tissues close at hand during my reading hours.
I finished a good audiobook last week that I want to tell you about.  The Dry by Australian author Jane Harper,  is set in Kiewarra, a small farming town about a day’s drive from Melbourne.  There have been serious droughts for two years, and this community, among many others, has been feeling the strain.  As the novel opens, Aaron Falk has returned to the town for the funeral of his childhood friend Luke Hadler, who, days earlier, apparently killed his wife and son, then turned to gun on himself, leaving only baby daughter Charlotte alive.  While this is the scenario accepted by the investigators from Clyde, the bigger city nearby, who consider the case closed, Hadler’s parents can’t believe it and ask Aaron, an investigator in the Australian Federal Police in Melbourne, to look into Luke’s affairs, particularly the family finances, to see if there could be any explanation for this horrific, tragic event.  Aaron has been away from the town for the past eighteen years, ever since he and his father were driven out by accusations that Aaron or his father were involved in the drowning death of another teen. The only reason he’s back for the funeral is that he received a note from Luke’s father: “You lied. Luke lied. Be at the funeral.” What follows is an investigation into the deaths of Luke and his family, but Harper also intersperses scenes from the years when Aaron was growing up, his friendships, his first love, his friend's drowning, and the impact his alienation and subsequent departure had on him.  It is the first in the “Aaron Falk” series, and, knowing nothing about this author, I thought she was a seasoned writer, but I just found out that this is her debut novel. WOW! What a complex mystery, where nothing is as it seems, and no fact or observation is included unnecessarily. The narrator, too, did an awesome job, and I’ve just placed the second audiobook on hold. I would highly recommend this to anyone, and I’m sure that it would be interesting to read as well as listen to.
That’s all for today.  I’ll try to get out for a bit of a walk, but it’s supposed to be quite slippery today, so I’ll have to be careful.
Bye for now…
Julie

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