It’s a hot, sticky Canada Day, and I’m trying to stay cool by not doing too much. I went for a walk already this morning and picked up a delicious Date Bar (it’s too hot to bake anything), and I’m pairing it with a steaming cup of Pu-erh tea. They say that drinking hot beverages actually keeps you cooler than drinking cold ones… I guess I’ve been doing it right all these years without even knowing it!
I didn’t plan very well so I don’t have a book by a Canadian author to tell you about today. What I have instead is a bit of a rant about a book and an audiobook I finished yesterday. A number of years ago I saw the film adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ psychological thriller, The Girl on the Train and I was quite disappointed, even though my expectations were low. But I wondered if the book might be better, and I had a copy on my bookshelf so I decided that I would either read it or get rid of it. Well, this past week I read it and my response to the book was the same as to the movie - low expectations but still disappointment. Here is a short summary, in case anyone out there does not know what this book is about: Rachel is the binge-drinking ex-wife of Tom, who is now married to Anna, and they have a young daughter. Rachel has lost her job due to her drinking and mental instability but she still takes the train into London every day. From the train, she watches as she passes her old house, but she also fixates on a young, seemingly happy couple a few doors down whom she names Jess and Jason. When she catches Jess (real name Megan) kissing someone other than Jason (real name Scott), she is horrified, as they represent everything she wants but does not have. When Megan goes missing, Rachel decides to tell the police about the other man, and thus becomes involved in the investigation. What follows are the stories, told from the points of view of Rachel, Anna and Megan, about the time leading up to and immediately following Megan’s disappearance. Unreliable narrators, binge-drinkers, psychological and physical abuse, miscarriages and obsessions about motherhood… these are all themes explored in this novel. I guess if I had read this before reading so many other great books that dealt with these themes, I may not have been so disappointed in it, but there are just so many others that did a far better job at this, in my opinion. My favourite book in this genre is still A S A Harrison’s The Silent Wife.
At the same time that I was reading Hawkins’ book, I was also listening to The Wives by Tarryn Fisher, a novel told by Thursday, a woman who is married to a man with two other wives. She gets to see him for two days each week, always on Thursday, but his other wives, Monday and Tuesday, are her constant competition. She is not supposed to know about them, but after five years of marriage, she becomes curious when she finds out that Monday is pregnant. Thursday tells herself that she has nothing to worry about, that she, not Monday, is Seth’s legal wife, and that he divorced Tuesday to be with her. So what if she can’t have children? So what if she desperately longs to be pregnant? When she accidentally finds out the name of one of the other wives, she can’t resist the urge to search for more information about her. As she delves deeper and deeper into the lives of the other women in Seth’s life, she discovers that the man she is married to is nothing like the man she thought she knew. Unreliable narrators, binge-drinkers, psychological and physical abuse, miscarriages and obsessions about motherhood… these are all themes explored in this novel… hmmm… does this sound familiar? This is a newer title, so the author definitely stole ideas from other books, and I’m just tired of novels with so little plot and so much internal dialogue concerning how a character ended up in this situation and what she should do about it. I think I actually preferred this novel to The Girl on the Train, as I felt it had a more satisfying unexpected twist at the end than some others (they ALWAYS have unexpected twists at the end!). Still, they were so very similar that it was like listening to and reading chapters from the same book, just told by different narrators.
So I need a break from this! I think I’m going to find a children’s book to read, and I just started listening to a mystery, The Lost Man by Australian author Jane Harper.
That’s all for today. Stay cool, stay safe, and have a Happy Canada Day!Bye for now…
PS This is my 500th post - WOW!! Thanks for continuing to read this blog.
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