Monday, 29 March 2010

Bit of biography

Just read Alistair Duncan's The Norwood Author. It's a biography of Arthur Conan Doyle, covering the few years he spent living in Norwood. During this time he wrote several Sherlock Holmes stories including the notorious one where he kills off his hero.

I bought this one following reading an interview with the author on Helen Hunt's blog, and reading her review of the book on Bookersatz. A pleasant enough quick read, though I expect appeals more to diehard Sherlockians more than to me. I was hoping for a little more social history, I guess, as I'm fascinated by Victorian times. There were bits of it, but not enough to really grab me. Nice little book though, and well illustrated.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Just finished

The Wave Theory of Angels - Alison MacLeod.

I bought this one after quoting on my other blog from Alison's essay in Short Circuit. I Googled her to find out what sort of thing she wrote, and liked the sound of this book.

What a mix! 13th century Christian philosophy (are there 9 realms of angels or 10?); 21st century String theory (how many dimensions do you need for a Grand Unified Theory, 10, or 11?) Daughter Christina of heretic wood carver Giles in 13th century France falls into an unexplained coma. The cathedral towers come crashing down. Daughter Christina of physicist Giles Carver falls into an unexplained coma. The twin towers come crashing down.

It's not a novel which can easily be summarised. It's very clever; in places perhaps a little too clever for me (kept hearing that whooshing noise concepts make as they went over my head); but I do like a bit of modern physics. The connectedness of all things. Couldn't put it down once I got into it.

This month so far

Three books by buddies:

A Mother's Guide to Cheating - Kate Long. Excellent as always, finely observed emotions of family life.

My So-called Afterlife - Tamsyn Murray. Teen fiction, lively, fun, and made me cry.

Prestwick - David Hough. Gripping page-turner. Satisfying ending. Am never getting on a plane again.

A book from a small press:

Breeze from the River Manjeera - Hema Macherla (Linen Press). Indian girl comes to England for an arranged marriage. Husband is a brutal pig and his family are even worse. She's treated as a slave, but eventually manages to break free of them and forge her own life. English is not the author's first language so writing this book is quite a feat. Enjoyable story which kept my attention throughout. In places perhaps a tighter edit would have improved it.

A book from a Waterstones promotions table:

Sacred Hearts - Sarah Dunant. In 16th century Italy a girl is forced into a convent to separate her from the unsuitable man she's fallen in love with. She can sing, and the convent's reputation is built on its muscial prowess. She's a pawn in the church's politics, but she rebels against it, and with the help of the convent's apothecary, eventually gets out. Great characterisation, and an unusual but believable setting. I was completely hooked.

In the beginning...

... there was a reader with a poor memory. She'd read and enjoy a book, and a month later would forget what it was all about.

I know, she thought. I'll create a blog and write a few notes about each book I read. Just for my own benefit, you understand, as a reminder. I wouldn't expect any one else to read or comment on this blog.

Unless they wanted to, of course.