If you read my post earlier in the year you’ll know that I’ve gone on a 2016 reading spree with the aim of always having a book on the go, and since April I’ve finished 7 more books. If you are looking for something new to read I’d recommend every one of the books in this post, and I’ll share what I thought of each one below. Like last time I’m ranking them favourite to least favourite, but unlike my earlier post there have been no disappointing reads (which is always good).
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
So this is not exactly a book – it’s the script of the stage play, and it’s also not exactly written by JK Rowling – it’s a collaboration. I’ve seen a lot of people moaning about these things in the press, but personally I was pretty excited about its release and so, it seems, were plenty of other people – it’s now the fastest selling book of the decade! I’d obviously love a chance to see the show, but in absence of a ticket I have to say that I really enjoyed reading this script. It didn’t bother me at all reading the story in this format (but some people do love a moan…) and I honestly just loved being able to read something new from the world of Harry Potter. It was a good mixture of new elements and the familiar bits that we’ve all grown to love, and with some unexpected appearances I actually found it quite emotional.
- The Distance Between Us, Maggie O’Farrell
It may be early days as I’ve only read 2 of her books so far, but Maggie O’Farrell may be my new favourite writer! She has an amazing writing style with such lovely attention to detail that she just hooks you in to even the most mundane aspects of life. Even though you could say her books are love stories, there is much more to them than that. They all seem to have a mystery element to them which gradually unfolds until the big reveal near the end, and she writes very interesting characters whose experiences always seem quite sad. The Distance Between Us was my favourite of the 2 books, as I preferred the happier ending. It’s about love that develops between two characters with hidden secrets and unusual family experiences; and also about the very close relationship between two sisters and how it developed throughout their lives.
- After You’d Gone, Maggie O’Farrell
Another Maggie O’Farrell book – this one was about a woman called Alice, who is hit by a car at the start of the book and is in a coma throughout. The story flicks backwards and forwards through the different events of her life, focussing a lot on her family’s story and on the one big love affair of her life. Again I found it so interesting to read because the author knows how important the small details are, but I also found the story very sad.
- Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey
I had wanted to read this book for a while after hearing that the story is told from the perspective of Maud – an elderly woman with dementia. Trusting in the little notes she writes for herself (although never knowing when or why she wrote them) she starts trying to solving the mystery of her missing friend Elizabeth, which ends up mirroring a mystery from her past – the disappearance of her sister. If you like a mystery story it may not be for you though, because Maud is an unreliable narrator, and for me it was much more about what it’s like to have dementia than about the mystery. It’s a really well written book and so interesting to see the world from Maud’s point of view. Things like sensing when she has annoyed someone but never knowing why; or wondering why there is always an increasing number of cold cups of tea at the bottom of her stairs… Definitely an interesting read.
- Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson
Although I enjoyed it, this was quite a strange book – it’s the story of the different generations of a regular English family, as seen through the eyes of the youngest member, Ruby. It’s quirky, starting off with Ruby describing the moment of her conception, and her character narrates events of her own life as well as providing anecdotes from the generations that came before her, including various untimely deaths. It’s supposed to be quite amusing, which I liked, but it’s a dry humour that isn’t for everyone.
- The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton
The Miniaturist is set in seventeenth century Amsterdam and is about a young country woman who moves to the city into a new marriage and a strange aloof family who have plenty of secrets to hide. To distract her, her new husband gives her a miniature replica of their house to furnish, but the miniature items she orders from “The Miniaturist” disturb her when they seem to reveal too much about the secrets of the household. I really liked the main character of Nella, who despite being young and out of her depth is not annoyingly naïve and is actually self-assured and intelligent, and she’s probably the main reason I enjoyed the book. The secrets are gradually revealed along the way, which keeps things interesting, but I have to say that they weren’t exactly surprising secrets(!) and the mystery of the miniaturist character was a bit weird.
- The Island, Victoria Hislop
This was probably my least favourite of the books but still enjoyable, particularly as a holiday read thanks to the Cretan setting. I’d describe it as a family saga spanning several generations, as a young woman in the current day travels to the small town in Crete where her mother was born to find out more about her family history and how it relates to the leper colony on the island of Spinalonga. It’s quite an easy read and probably not as detailed as I’d have liked, given the subject matter.
Do you have any recommendations for what to read next?
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