I have been silent for too long, I fear. I apologise, Term 4 at school is a tadge busy for me – something to do with Prize Giving organisation. I have still been reading and so as many of you have requested another blog – I am truly flattered – here it is.
Anyone who knows me well is often surprised by the fact that I will refuse to watch the movie that has been released on a book that I have recently read. So I haven’t seen the Book Thief or Mister Pip or Gone Girl or A Fault in Our Stars. This fascination with turning books into movies irritates me. They very rarely do the novel justice and often change the ending. So in a somewhat reversed situation, I perversely started to read The English Patient. I disliked the movie, in fact I do not think I even watched it to the end. And having just watched the trailer, I am convinced that I did the right thing as the characters do not look as I imagined them, nor are the settings as harsh or torn apart by war as my mind made them.
I was spellbound by this beautiful novel written by Michael Ondaatje. It took me on a journey through Italy, where I resided alongside Hana, a Canadian nurse in a bombed villa where she nurses the English patient. The characters are as unlikely as they come: Kip is a Sikh Army sapper, who defuses bombs surrounding the villa, Caravaggio is a Canadian thief whose profession is legitimized by the war, and has missing thumbs, lastly there is the English Patient who has been burnt beyond recognition. It is his story that held me; a well-known desert explorer in 1930s Egypt who carries a novel with him that contains his secrets. Ondaatje skillfully weaves his adventures and affairs with the desert throughout the novel – I never knew that vast areas of sand could so fascinate me. It left me wanting to explore Northern Africa and most definitely wanting to return again to Italy. I am now convinced that movie adaptations destroy our imagination.
The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse is a somewhat ghoulish murder story. However, Mosse’s novels are by default, my
intelligent woman’s summer read. I don’t mean to sound elitist, but I like quality writing and I like a ‘page turner’. The story is set in Sussex Fens in 1912. It opens in a churchyard, where villagers gather on the night when the ghosts of those who will die in the coming year are thought to be seen.
Standing alone is the taxidermist’s daughter. At 17, Constantia Gifford lives with her father in a decaying house: it is all that is left of Gifford’s once world-famous museum of taxidermy. The bell begins to toll and all eyes are fixed on the church. No one sees the gloved hand pick up a flint. As the last notes fade into the dark, a woman lies dead! While the village braces itself against rising waters and the highest tide of the season, Connie struggles to discover who is responsible, but finds herself under suspicion…
This is a gothic, psychological thriller that is just perfectly written. The mystery of Connie’s accident, combined with the recent murder of a young woman are intricately interwoven, producing a story that is both stunning and surprising in turns.
My find of the term is the Australian author, Kate Morton. I purchased The Distant Hours on Kindle, only because Amazon recommended that I read it! My poor husband hated it as there was no food in the house until I reached the end and then I went to book group and they handed me The Forgotten Garden. Little does he know that I am saving The Secret Keeper and The House at Riverton for our trip to Rarotonga.
The Distant Hours is a complex mystery. The central character, Edie Burchill stumbles across Milderhurst castle and remembers that she has been there before… The story shifts back and forth between several different pasts and to the present day. Milderhurst is the home of world renowned author Raymond Blythe who wrote, “The True History of the Mud Man,” a spectacularly successful children’s story. He has three quirky daughters – each with their own tragic tale. Central to the complex and thoroughly gripping plot is Edie’s mother, who was thirteen when she was evacuated in the war to Milderhurst and became entwined in the drama. Her part of the tale is only one of the things Edie discovers. Morton is a gifted storyteller. She has a gift for weaving multiple storylines together, all adding to the mystery.
The Forgotten Garden is a novel with;
A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery.
Kate Morton again provides the intricate layering of different times and places, gifting the reader with a story that captures the imagination and heart completely. It is an easy read, but so delightful that I cannot think of a better book to read over the holidays, whilst lying in the sun. (Hopefully)
The mystery centres around Nell who is found abandoned on an Australian wharf at the age of four. The story quickly moves to Victorian London and Cornwall – where the secret garden is, and where Nell’s grand-daughter tries to unravel the identity of the abandoned child.
I am currently reading, Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster – my classic for the year.
Kate Mosse also wrote THE WINTER GHOSTS, CITADEL and LABYRINTH and I can highly recommend them all!
Happy summer reading and I will try not to read too much over Christmas.