Sunday 6 November 2022

Late evening post on a long-ish weekend...

It’s late on the first Sunday in November, my favourite weekend of the year because we get that extra hour due to the clocks being turned back.  Obviously I didn’t use the extra hour to write my post this morning, but I figure it’s better late than never.

My Volunteer Book Club met yesterday to discuss Alex Michaelides’ psychological thriller, The Silent Patient, and everyone LOVED this book!!  Here’s what I wrote about it when I read it the first time in February of 2019:

“I read two books last week and finished listening to an audiobook, so this might be a long post.  The first book I read, or should I say devoured, was The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.  Artist Alicia Berenson is in an institute for the criminally insane after stabbing her husband to death.  For seven years, she has not spoken a word, not even to defend herself or explain her actions.  Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber, convinced that he can break through her wall of silence and get her talking, gets hired on at the institute and takes on her case as his personal challenge.  But as he digs deeper, he discovers that her silence is covering up secrets far more complex than he ever imagined.  And he must consider whether, ultimately, he really wants the truth revealed.  This debut thriller sucked me in right away, and kept me flying through the pages until the very last paragraph.  It was one of the best “unreliable narrator” novels I’ve read in a long time, and the plot twists were so sudden and shocking that I had to stop and think about it all until everything fell into place and I was amazed at the final picture these puzzle pieces created.  This would be a great novel for anyone who enjoyed The Silent Wife (ASA Harrison), The Widow (Fiona Barton) or Before I Go To Sleep (S J Watson).”

I really can’t add any more details than what is written above, as I wouldn’t want to give anything away.  This also means that I can’t really talk about our discussion, as we mostly discussed aspects of the novel (such as characters, narratives, timelines, etc) in relation to the ending, but I obviously don’t want to reveal the ending.  It was a really, really good book that I found unputdownable, even the second time.  I kind of remembered the ending, but not all of it, so it was still somewhat of a surprise for me, and I can understand why I had to think about it the first time before figuring out just what had happened.  If you like psychological thrillers, I would highly recommend this novel.

And I finished another book today, The Burning Girls by C J Tudor, which was pretty good as well.  This novel tells the story of Jack Brooks, a vicar and single mother of fifteen year old Flo, who moves from her home parish in Nottingham to the small village of Chapel Croft in pursuit of a fresh start.  Well, Chapel Croft wouldn’t have been her first choice, but she does her best to settle into a community that is steeped in tradition and history, particularly around the martyred parishioners who were burned at the stake in the 1500s.  Jack is taking over from the former vicar who hanged himself in the chapel, but she is determined to make a go of this, despite the hardships she and her daughter face when trying to get used to village life.  When creepy things start to happen, Jack is suitably frightened, both for herself and for her daughter, but rather than abandoning their new home, they stay and try to figure out what’s going on.  Oh, along with the martyrs, two teens, Merry and Joy, disappeared from the village 30 years before and have never been heard from again.  This would definitely be enough to send me running to the nearest bus station and heading back to Nottingham, but clearly Jack has a stronger constitution (and calling) than I.  She is also running from an unfortunate incident in her recent pass that makes her reluctant to return to her former stomping grounds. Despite the warnings and visions experienced by both Jack and Flo, they continue to search for clues to help solve the mystery, but can they do so before someone else gets hurt?  Reading this book was a bit like watching a classic horror movie, where you yell at the main characters to “go back, don’t open that door”, and yet they not only open the door, they step out into the night (alone!!) searching for whatever made the noise.  It was not literary, but it was good creepy fun, perfect for reading around Halloween, when our thoughts turn to ghostly apparitions and things that go bump in the night.  If you are looking for a good, creepy story set in a small British village, you could definitely do worse than this one.

That’s all for tonight.  Have a good evening!

Bye for now... Julie

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