My Review of the Lemon Grove… for what it’s worth

The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

My score: 8/10, just for the ending alone.

I was lucky enough not to have noticed the hype surrounding this book, as it has been deemed as the “summer read of 2014” by some. So I went in with a pretty clean slate, at least before the book club..

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In short, I loved it. Read it. Now.

Embarrassingly I had only read around 40 pages before going to the first ever Underground Book Club (by Books on the Underground) to discuss The Lemon Grove and I felt very out of the loop. Despite knowing pretty much every aspect of the plot by the end of the evening, I still thought I’d give it a fair shot.

The basic story (and this is on the back of the book) is about a married woman who takes an unnatural fancy to the new boyfriend of her step daughter.

The book club members were shocked about all the sordid things that happen in this book. Perhaps because I was ready for this, I wasn’t too put out by it all (it’s only really in a couple of places that you wouldn’t want someone reading over your shoulder on the tube) but the thing that most distressed me was the lack of regret, guilt or care that the main character has in doing the things she does. At one point my heart lifted as she sobbed about her misgivings, but then a few hours later, off she went again! I found this quite unconvincing and I know I’m not alone on this. I felt that her character could have been more fleshed out at the start.

I’ll be honest I didn’t enjoy the book while I was reading it. It felt like the author was patronisingly leading us by the hand – like someone saying “and then I did that, and then we went there, and I felt like this”, and it felt quite immature. I got frustrated with this way of writing, not to mention the excessive detail about everyone’s appearance all the time.

Saying that, I was hooked and I hadn’t even noticed. I had a hundred pages to go when I opened it for the last time and that was that – I had to know what was going to happen. This was so strange as I didn’t even care for any of the characters!

When I reached the end, or what I should describe more accurately as “the point at which the author stopped telling us what was happening”, I felt like I had been slammed in the chest. I realised that the whole reason she was taking us so patronisingly by the hand was so that when we had been led to the end of the cliff, she would let go. And we would decide whether or not we should jump.

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Book Review: The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Through The Window And Disappeared

Jonas Jonasson: The Hundred Year Old… you know the rest

a humble book reviewJonas Jonasson The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Through The Window And Disappeared

I must admit I was taken in by the title and cover, in the window of a book shop as I walked home. I am always impressed with a creative cover, but also the title did exactly what the first line of any novel should – it took me in and left me wanting to know what happens next.

“You might think he could have made up his mind earlier, and been man enough to tell the others of his decision. But Allan Karlson had never been given to pondering things too long.”

The events that follow the centenerian, Allan, escaping from the Malmkoping Old People’s Home are nothing short of ridiculous, and yet so believable within the plot. You are taken through events that could only happen in someone’s imagination, with all the threads meeting at various points, with hilarious consequences. The humour throughout is subtle and yet makes you laugh out loud – these are not full on ‘jokes’, rather comments made which in the context often made me laugh out loud (a trait which in other people I would normally scoff at).

The novel, which turns out to be extracts from a blog written in the ‘present time’, looks back on Allan’s extraordinary life and weaves his personal story with that of the world wars and subsequent events. I love that I actually found myself learning new things through this novel, as it went into detail about world events surrounding Korea, the Soviets and China following WW2. Again, every story is told with such humour and well drawn out characters that I couldn’t help but keep reading.

This is one of those books that I looked forward to opening every day. I even perfected the art of walking to work while reading! I’ve missed three Archers omnibuses as a result of my addiction to this book, which if you know me is quite a big deal…

I would recommend this to anyone looking to lose themselves in an intelligent and funny story about the past, the present and the future.

Books on the Underground

I’ll be leaving this book on the London underground this week, so that other Londoners can enjoy it as much as I did! If you haven’t heard of Books on the Underground, you can read my blog about it here, or follow @BooksUndergrnd on Twitter.

Books on the Underground

I love reading. I love free books. I love sharing books I have enjoyed… but before now there was no way of getting my books out to the masses.

Introducing Books on the Underground

Have you ever read a book so good that you simply have to share it with everyone and anyone? Well, now you CAN!

books-on-the-underground-logo-2Books on the Underground is a new movement to bring books to every Londoner for free.

how it works

All you do is request stickers from BotU and pop them on any books you have read and are happy to give away. You stick them on, and away you go! When you’ve left the book(s) at an underground station or in a train carriage, you simply tweet about it to @BooksUndergrnd using #booksontheunderground and pop up a picture much like this one:

Books-on-the-Underground - Book with sticker

There is nothing to stop this movement really taking off, and everyone in London having access to a constantly changing and moving array of books. You pick one up, you read it, and you return it to the underground!

This February Books on the Underground is launching love on the underground with the help of Mills & Boon… so now everyone can fall in love with reading on the tube.

If you love this idea, you can read more about Books on the Underground by clicking on the logo:

books on the underground colourSome lovely coverage for Books on the Underground:

Timeout: Join the underground movement of swapping books on the tube

The Unlikely Bookworm | love on the underground

What book would you leave on the tube? My I must share with the world books are definitely Phillipe Claudel’s Monsieur Linh and his Child and Mick Jackson’s The Underground Man