At last! I finished Homo Deus – Yuval Noah Harari. The book languished on the TBR shelf for over a year. I had to go back to page 1, but it was worth it. YNH has got to be the liveliest historical writer of the century, plus his panoramic vision of history, across a wide spectrum encompassing religion, science, humanism and the age of AI, makes for a thought provoking read.
Two of my favourite sections were ‘A Short History of Lawns’ (astonishingly pertinent) and the final section of Dataism. Other reviewers described his writing as fresh and lively … a master storyteller and entertainer. Thrilling and breathtaking
If you like a substantial read, that is actually enjoyable along with the radical ideas about what the future might hold, then read this book.
WILDLY CREATIVE! WEIRDLY ORIGINAL! Gotta be Nicola Barker’s Five Miles from Outer Hope. One reviewer said: you will gasp, wince and laugh out loud. I did. The narrator is sulky 16 year old Medve ( from Hungarian, and translates as ‘bear’ – paws ‘n claws.) Medve’s eccentric family is disrupted by the arrival of a South African conscript who is a deserter; we’re in the 1970s. Events deteriorate disaster-wards from hereon in. The book is awash with crochet garments, lentils, rice cakes, the hippy lifestyle, and fond references to the American humourist James Thurber. What a read! If you crave something different, this is the book.
BIRTHING THE OED – The Dictionary of Lost Words– Pip Williams
Huh? What? The Oxford English Dictionary, the authoritative 29 volume fount of knowledge, that was 73 years in gestation? Yes, that one. A novelized account of the unsung workers, all women, who helped the mighty project to finality. It’s a skillful blend of fact and fiction, taking in the Victorian age with its huge families, domestic servants, life in academic Oxford with its dons, gowns, bicycles, colleges; and also, the Suffragettes. There’s a low key love story, plus touching accounts of women’s friendships and, of course, the lost words of women: intimate and earthy, deemed unfit for inclusion in the august OED. I loved every page and lovers of the English language will enjoy the book.
Peaches for Monsieur le Cure – Joanne Harris. More Vianne Rocher chocolate magic, lush late summer in the small village of Lasquenet, discord between the French villagers and the new incomer from North Africa; culture clashes, religious intolerance, and the mystery Woman in Black? Who is she? A sensuous book but with dark undertones.
The Dictionary of Lost Words – Pip Williams . Women’s words, lives and friendships. Oxford be
Peaches for Monsieur le Cure – Joanne Harris. Tons of French charm. To my surprise, I was captivated; it’s a good story and that always works for me. Recommended.
Five Miles from Outer Hope – Nicola Barker. Quirky, off-the-wall 1970s family slice of life. Exhilarating, funny and different. A huge hit with me!
Us and Them – Rosemund J Handler. A book that darkens as the story of twins Paola, Aliza, their Jewish mother Jen, and Irish father Gordon, unfolds. The burdens and secrets of family history, heritage, tradition, superstition and mental illness develops against a Cape Town background. I was enthralled and read obsessively until I was finished.
The Moroccan Daughter – Deborah Rodrigues. Arabic Moroccan traditional marriage norms collide with young Westernized Moroccans who return home from California to attend a family wedding. Much family drama ensues. A quick light read, with bags of Moroccan atmosphere – the souk, spices, the medina, life in a riaad, the desert, etc etc .
With your Crooked Heart – Helen Dunmore. An intense, convoluted story of two brothers, one wife, one child. Moody, dark exploration of family and relationships.
Homo Deus – Yuval Noah Harari. Prepare to have your every belief, cherished theory and your very identity, briskly shaken, Spring cleaned, then reassembled in different configuration. Futurists should enjoy this one. Highly recommended.