I’ve got a steaming cup of chai and a freshly-baked Zucchini Apple Muffin keeping me company on this windy, chilly morning, which definitely, finally feels like fall. Speaking of apples and fall, I finished Liane Moriatry’s Apples Never Fall last weekend and, as I suspected, the ending didn’t WOW me. Oh well...
I’ve been unable to finish a book this week, as I tried a couple different titles that I borrowed from the library that didn’t hold my interest. So rather than skip posting this week, I thought I could highlight some of the good audiobooks that I’ve listened to recently. These almost always get neglected in my posts, so audiobooks, this one’s for you!
The first book I want to mention is A Tale for the Time Being by Canadian author Ruth Ozeki, who also narrated. I have to say that this was a phenomenal novel. It was so good that I ended up buying a print copy and adding it to my book club list for next year. Told from the point of view of two narrators, this novel spans the globe and takes us to Tokyo, where troubled teen Nao (pronounced “Now”) is contemplating suicide as the only escape from the bullying and loneliness that she is experiencing. At her parents’ insistence, she spends the summer with her grandmother in a Buddhist temple high in the mountains and begins to find a connection to her past that may help her deal with her present struggles. She also finds solace in her diary, where she refers to herself as a “time being”. Travel across the Pacific and we find ourselves on a remote island off of the coast of British Columbia (I think the island was called Desolate), where Ruth, a middle-aged writer, finds a Hello Kitty lunch box containing these diaries washed up on the shore. Ruth also struggles with loneliness and a lack of connection, and these diaries give her a project to work on, purpose to her days, and an opportunity to connect with others on the island and across the ocean. This book is about so much more than what I’ve just written, I know I will never be able to do it justice. But I would highly recommend this novel to just about anyone, as it has a little bit of everything in it, history, romance, Buddhism, even quantum physics!
Broken Girls by another Canadian author, Simone St James, tells the story of a journalist who uncovers the hidden past and dark secrets of an abandoned boarding school where unwanted girls were sent fifty years before. I won’t give you a more detailed summary, but let’s just say that it was another interesting, well-written book by St James, with a more complex, darker plot than her previous books.
Invisible girl is a recent novel by one of my favourite authors, Lisa Jewell. In this complex, creepy and darkly disturbing book, social misfit Owen Pick lives in his aunt’s spare bedroom. Across the street lives the Four family, whose teenaged daughter swears that Pick has been following her. When Saffyre Maddox, a former patient of Roan Four, goes missing, Pick is the most likely suspect, but did he do it, or is someone else responsible for the missing “invisible” girl? This psychological thriller certainly lived up to, and possibly even surpassed, my expectations.
The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman was a re-read for me, and it was on my “Best Reads of…” list for a reason. Shifting between past and present, this novel tells the story of five childhood friends and the fateful night in 1979 that changed their lives forever. I loved this suspenseful psychological coming-of-age novel, which was just as good the second time around.
And speaking of coming-of-age novels, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart also focused on a group of privileged teens who spend their summers on an island privately owned by one of the teens’ family. But this summer is different for reasons that are slowly revealed throughout the novel. Something has clearly happened, but what? And who, if anyone, is at fault? This was another novel that deals with actions and their consequences, and I loved this one, too.
And finally, The Gown by Jennifer Robson (also Canadian) tells the story of Ann Hughes in 1947 post-war Britain, where news about the upcoming marriage between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip is a welcome distraction for a country that is rebuilding after the devastations wrought by the war. Ann works on the famed wedding gown with French-immigrant Holocaust-survivor Miriam Dassin, who will eventually become a world-renowned artist. Nearly 70 years later, Toronto journalist Heather Mackenzie comes across an intricately stitched fabric hidden in her recently deceased grandmother’s belongings. As Heather tries to discover what this fabric, saved specifically for her, is meant to tell her, we are shifted back and forth between past and present as a connection is slowly revealed. This was another interesting novel that weaves fact and fiction into a most engaging story. Who knew the story about a gown could be so interesting?!
Hmmm, I see that there are a number of similarities in the storylines summarized above, and I notice that a number of these books are by Canadian authors, which is not a bad thing. I guess I feel it’s my job to read and/or promote Canadian writers and Canadian literature. In fact, I’m reading an interesting novel by a Canadian writer right now, Good Mothers Don’t by Laura Best, which I hope to tell you about next week.
That’s all for today. Enjoy the crisp fall day!
Bye for now…