I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump recently; I abandoned Claire Fuller’s Bitter Orange, yet another novel of complicated relationships set in a stately home during a heatwave summer; this pitch feels too familiar to me now, and the protagonist wasn’t engaging enough to keep me reading. I also struggled with Lucie Whitehouse’s first police procedural, Critical Incidents; Whitehouse is an elegant and effective writer of psychological thrillers, but this first instalment in a series was horribly over-complicated, with three interlocking plots that were all tied up too swiftly at the end.
I’m currently reading Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney, which is a extremely well-written story of a religious fundamentalist family spending time on an isolated piece of coastline in north-west England in the 1970s, but it’s also a classic case of a book that’s been let down by its marketing. With the current resurgence of ghost and horror narratives, it’s been repackaged, as my friend Alex pointed out, as part of that genre even though it really isn’t a spooky novel. If I’d started it in a literary fiction frame of mind, I think I’d be getting on with it much better. Finally, I’m about two-thirds of the way through Richard Powers’s massive The Overstory, which actually is very good, but demands time and effort.
I’ve got six books left on my TBR pile, and I’m hoping to read these before Christmas rolls around. They are:
- Unsheltered: Barbara Kingsolver. After hearing her speak in London recently, I obviously wanted to get hold of her latest novel, and although I’m unsure about the historical strand (which deals, yet again, with the impact of Darwin) I’m intrigued with her contemporary take on the economic crisis and boomerang millennials.
- The Fishermen: Chigozie Obioma. Set in 1990s Nigeria, this 2015 Booker Prize shortlisted novel tells the story of four brothers who receive a curse from a local madman.
- The Rapture: Claire McGlasson [June 2019]. I heard Glasson speak about this novel at the Durham Book Festival. It tells the story of a real-life inter-war all-female cult, the Panacea Society.
- Golden Child: Claire Adam [January 2019]. Again, Adam spoke about this debut at the Durham Book Festival. Set in Trinidad, the novel follows one brother searching for another.
- Testament: Kim Sherwood. Based on Sherwood’s own family history. Eva is seeking to uncover her grandfather’s past when she discovers that he underwent forced labour service in Hungary before being taken to the death camps during the Holocaust.
- The Boat People: Sharon Bala. A ship of refugees from Sri Lanka reaches Vancouver and are thrown into a detention processing centre. Told through the perspectives of a range of characters, including refugee and father, Mahindan, his lawyer, and the adjudicator. Thanks to Rebecca for passing on her proof copy!
What are your December reading plans?