This month has been quite uninspiring for books unfortunately. I was all geared up for London Book Club, but at the last minute could not attend, and that slowed me down a bit to be honest – all that hard work for nothing! And boy, was it hard work.
Book # 1 – Brodeck’s Report by Philippe Claudel
After being blown away by Monsieur Linh and His Child and unimpressed by Grey Souls, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Philippe Claudel’s Brodeck’s Report, but I had read and heard good things. As is his style in Grey Souls, this book is a rambler. He jumps around with dates and people, but it is essentially readable.
Quiet villager Brodeck is called upon to write a special report, surrounding the death of a ‘newcomer’ to the village. This task leads him to thinking about his time in the labour camp, his friendship with the newcomer, and his relationship with his family. The story is compelling, with a mixture of laughter (not that much actually come to think of it) and horror. As the pieces begin to fit together, we get a real feel for the nature of the villagers, the effect his past has had on him, and the weight on his shoulders to invent history.
In this type of novel, having never lived through a world war or anywhere in rural Europe, I found it hard at first to relate to the story or characters. The more I read though, the more I realised that I could relate – to the village. Much like the village in Mick Jackson’s Five Boys, and somewhat like the village I grew up in, the atmosphere is darkly protective and threatened. I felt that the feelings and actions of the villagers reflected a magnified version of most people living in a small community – being weary of the ‘other’. It was quite like Lord Of The Flies in its portrayal of the human condition away from any authorities.
I’d recommend this novel, as though it is quite serious, it is definitely food for thought.
Book # 2: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harback
This was the London Book Club October read this week, and though I had to miss the meeting I did make it through the book. I say make it through because it really did feel like a painful and unrewarding endeavour (and yes, I know I’m in the real minority here..).
I was going to write in detail about why I disliked this book, but I know how horrible it is to read negative things about a book you loved (which the whole world seems to in this case!) so I’ll leave it at this – it just wasn’t my cup of tea. And yes, I did make it to the very end – I rarely give up on a book!
Book # 3: Lovejoy: The Judas Pair, by Jonathan Gash
If you weren’t judging me for my last review, you certainly will now. I loved this little book. I plowed through it in two days (I’m not a fast reader, was just travelling a. lot. those two days).
I found this book in the book shop in a doctor’s surgery, quite randomly. There were three from the series but I limited myself to just this one, which turned out to be the first in the Lovejoy series!
Lovejoy is such a character. This novel is such a romp, and written so delightfully that I didn’t even mind that I knew ‘who did it’ pretty much from the very beginning. It’s a great story, and moves incredibly quickly. This is a book which I learned a lot from, as Lovejoy is an antiques dealer (you’ve probably seen the BBC series) and he goes into detail about the tricks of the trade. If it wasn’t for this book I never would have known that those codes written on labels in antiques shops tell the owner how much he originally bought them for, so then he can make up the price depending on who he’s dealing with!
This is the only book that has made me scared, too. It’s a real adventure where near the end I became genuinely worried for Lovejoy’s safety! This might have had something to do with my car sickness, but still… felt like real fear! As a result of reading this book I have asked everyone to get me Lovejoy books for Christmas – I just hope they are all as good!
Currently reading: Iceberg, by Clive Cussler (it’s very random)