Sunday 15 March 2020

Tea and treats on a strange morning...

It’s bright and sunny this morning, but with the COVID-19 pandemic warnings, I suspect there won’t be many people outside enjoying the lovely day.  I plan to go for a long walk after finishing this post, but I’m sure it will feel strangely desolate out there and the atmosphere subdued, a bit like those post-apocalyptic novels.
I just finished reading a novel that I brought home from the library conference I was at earlier this year, Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier.  I must have met the author, because my Advance Readers’ Edition says “For Julie” and is signed by the author.  This psychological thriller centres around Marin, a forty-something woman who seems to have it all, a perfect husband, a darling child, and a successful chain of upscale hair salons.  One day, just before Christmas, in a moment of carelessness, her son is taken and her perfect world unravels. Sixteen months later, Marin is a mere shadow of her former self, still struggling with the feeling of guilt that his abduction was all her fault, but when the PI she’s hired to keep the search for her son active informs her that her husband is having an affair, she comes alive, determined to hang on to the only family she has left.  When she enlists her oldest friend to help her out, things spiral out of control, and she learns that she’s not the only one with secrets. This novel was good, not great, a bit too wordy, but I’m glad I stuck with it because it delivered the kind of twisty ending I was hoping for and anticipating. It was a bit predictable, but still held enough elements of surprise to make the conclusion satisfying. I may or may not read others by this author, but I’m glad to have read this one.
The recent empty shelves in grocery stores and pharmacies and the desolate streets and shops have reminded me of that fabulous novel by José Saramago, Blindness.  Published originally in Portuguese in 1995 and in English in 1997, this novel deals with a mass epidemic of blindness affecting nearly everyone in an unnamed city, and the chaos that ensues.  Although it’s been many years since I’ve read it, from what I can recall, this was an amazing novel, one I would recommend to just about anyone.
And, as usual at this "tempestuous weather" time of year, I’m also reminded of another interesting novel, The Rapture by Liz Jensen, which centres around Gabrielle Fox, a psychologist who, after a tragic car accident has left her wheelchair-bound and alone, is determined to rebuild her career.  When she is assigned to work with Bethany Krall, one of the most dangerous teens in the UK, she begins to rethink her choices. But when Bethany, whose predictions of natural disasters are frighteningly accurate, predicts another disaster of epic proportion, Gabrielle cannot ignore her, and with the help of a brilliant physicist, they must fight to convince the right people to act before it is too late.  I just got this novel from the library yesterday to reread it, as the "doomsday" atmosphere surrounding us right now is perfectly suited to this type of eco-thriller.
I hope this wasn’t too dreary and depressing for you!  Please get outside and enjoy the sunshine, but stay away from crowded places.
Bye for now…

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