Friday, 27 April 2018

What Are You Reading? (3)

By Gillian Hamer

Spring is in the air …
Goodbye winter blues and hello daffodils, frolicking lambs and budding hedgerows. Yes, at last spring is here!

And it’s April’s turn to offer up a smorgasbord of literary delights.

In the hope of discovering a few more masterpieces, or at least adding to our ‘to be read’ pile, Triskele members share our current reads with you - and ask for your latest hot reads in exchange. Please join in the discussion and let's spread the word about some of the great books out there - whether classics or latest finds.

APRIL - What are you reading?


This Must be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

I found This Must be the Place an entertaining love story, spanning continents and expertly delving into a complicated family and marriage with its own web of intrigue, humour and affection. It wasn’t my favourite of Maggie O’Farrell’s novels though, as I found there was a few too many characters to identify with, and the story lacked a bit of focus. As always, though, her wonderful, lyrical prose carried me effortlessly to the end of the story.


When I Hit You, or Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kendasamy.

This is a story of domestic violence and rape within a short-lived marriage, told through the many lenses of a writer’s mind. It begins with the mother recounting, over and over, the state of her daughter’s feet when she fled home. It covers letters written to imaginary lovers, and deleted before her husband can come home and read them. It goes through story boards of films she will make of her experience, before dropping, intermittently into unvarnished accounts of a classic pattern of domestic abuse – control, isolation, verbal abuse, physical, sexual, and finally death threats. When the narrator finally escapes and speaks about what has happened to her, she faces the shaming women in her position so often meet. Why did she not run away? Why did she stay if things were as bad as she says? How much of this was really not consensual? Kandasamy answers these questions squarely within the narrative, taking you so deep inside her narrator’s head you are forced to understand, to acknowledge the funnelling of her choices into one, narrow conduit. There is poetry in this prose, and a humour so dark it’s like pepper on the tongue. An unforgettable read.


The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

I have a real affinity for war-time novels, if well written you always come away learning much and feeling the power of the human spirit. And never more so than in this book. Based on the true story of concentration camp survivor, Lale Sokolov and Gita, the woman who became his wife. The style of POV worked wonderfully well in that we were hit in the face with some of the worst atrocities ever known, but it was beautifully balanced by the power of love and the human stories going on within these terrible camps. Lale’s strength and courage take the reader through every known emotion and I would recommend anyone with a love of historical fiction to read this book.


Der Som Ger Sig In I Leken (rough translation - Playing with Fire)

This novel, by Luna Miller, is the Swedish original and I'm reading the soon-to-be-published English translation, by Aidan Isherwood.

It's set in Stockholm and the atmosphere is rooted in the Swedish capital, so you get a real feeling of the different areas and kinds of people who frequent them. This is a crime novel with a difference. Retired surgeon Gunvor Ström may be in her sixties, her hands might be too shaky to continue performing operations and her body complains every time she works out. But her mind is as sharp as ever. She’s curious, intelligent and experienced – perfect qualities for a private detective.

As the agency’s rookie, she gets a surveillance job. A straightforward case, they said. A domestic. Suspicions of infidelity. Follow the husband.
But when the husband is attacked and viciously beaten, his wife calls off the assignment. Too late. Gunvor wants to know what happened. The agency aren’t paying her, but her free time is her own business.

After intervening in an incident of bullying, Gunvor finds herself with two unlikely allies. David is a young, jobless waster who hangs about Fruängen tube station. 19-year-old Elin is shy and introverted, after spending too long in her bedroom hiding from her parents’ fights.

Who’s going to notice two young people and an innocent-looking elderly lady strolling the Stockholm streets? Turns out they're not quite as forgettable as they think. And we all know what happens when you play with fire.

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