I roared through many books in July, including one DNF (did not finish). I promised myself that at this late stage of my life – very close to my 80th birthday – I could no longer waste valuable eyesight and reading time on books that did not entertain, en,lighten or charm me. Take it or leave it.
Jeeves and the King of Clubs – Ben Schott. A sparkling combo of Bertie Wooster blundering along affably, being quietly rescued by the inimitable Jeeves at every turn. A winter tonic for me. See my review posted on 11 July. Not to be missed.
The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot – Marianne Cronin. An unusual story of friendship between terminally ill patients. Margot 83 and Lenni 17. Tender, funny, poignant, a lifetime of stories. Despite a tinge of dissatisfaction right at the end ( Margot’s relationship with Maia) it was a wonderful read.
Olive Again – Elizabeth Strout. The quotidian made luminous; a tender account of life in a small Maine town. Literary – and beautiful. Definitely on my 2021 Best Books of the Year list.
The Broken Earth Trilogy – N K Jemisin. Magnificent Fantasy saga, written by an outstanding female Fantasy writer. See my review published 20 July. A must for Fantasy fans. Highly recommended.
Smoke and Ashes – Abir Mukherjee. Capt Sam Wyndham lands up in the Indian Imperial Police Force, Calcutta, in 1921. He’s battling his opium addiction whilst trying to solve three murders. The thriller plays out against the colourful background of teeming, chaotic Calcutta where Ghandi’s Congress Party is staging massive anti-Brit demonstrations, and Crown Prince Edward is due in town for a ceremonial State Visit. The story builds to a dramatic finale, that had me reading breathlessly to the end. Recommended.
Exit – Belinda Bauer. Can a crime novel be funny and charming? In this case: yes. Well-meaning geriatrics are involved in a seemingly humane charity, which turns out to be part of an intricate loan shark scheme. An ingenious plot, completely unpredictable. Recommended.
The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennet. Stella and Desiree are identical twins growing up together in a small Southern black community. At 16 years old their lives split when they run away to the city. One twin passes herself off as white, whilst the other eventually returns home. Each twin has a daughter, and the strands of their lives twist and twine for decades. Enjoyable and engrossing.
The Seal Cove Theoretical Society – SW Clemens. (ebook) Finally, a well written e-book. A slice of life in a small coastal town unfolds, mixed with some philosophical musings, inhabited by a motley cast of people, and their amiable dogs. A pleasant light read.
The Two Lives of Louis and Louise – Julie Cohen. I found the basic premise of the story to be contrived, and the narrative slow. The book didn’t work for me. You can’t win them all!
Ali Smith’s Supersonic 70s – the Pocket Penguin 30 series. The book was a gift to me, back in 2008; hiding amongst bigger books. It’s a slim volume so no wonder I overlooked it. I’m enjoying the short stories at intervals. Ali S packs so much into one story, they need a bit of time to settle.
Word Freak – Stefan Fatsis. A fascinating survey of the top Scrabble players in the USA during the late 90s and early 2’s. The book was published in 2002, and Scrabble remains as popular as ever. If you enjoy words, Scrabble and an insider’s account of the geeks and freaks who inhabit the subculture, then you’ll enjoy the book. I certainly did. Another book that will feature on my 2021 Books of the Year.