Saturday, 25 September 2010

My So-called Haunting

My So-called Haunting by Tamsyn Murray

What's known chez womagwriter as a 'buddy book' - ie I know the author! Tam has built an incredible world of ghosts and psychics in this, and her previous book My So-called Afterlife. In this one, teenage Skye has a troubled teenage ghost who was killed in a gang shooting to help, and has her own troubles with her boyfriend, handsome bad boy Nico. A lively, humourous and warm book, and one that isn't scared to tackle big themes. The end, while satisfying, doesn't tie up all the strands of the novel and leaves you desperate for Tam's third novel, My So-called Phantom Lovelife which isn't yet published!
If you've got teenage girls in your house I'd say this series is a must.

The Dead Secret

The Dead Secret - Wilkie Collins

Collins wrote this book not long before his classic, The Woman in White. There are some similarities - this too is a mystery story.
A secret, contained in a note dictated by a woman on her deathbed, is the central mystery in this story. Dictated by Mrs Treverton to her maid, but never passed to Mr Treverton as his wife had requested. Years later, Mrs Treverton's daughter gets to hear of the existence of the secret and is determined to find it out, though it's to her own cost.
I was particularly interested in the theme of illegitimacy in this novel, and Victorian attitudes to it, and the class to which you were born.
It's an enjoyable novel - at times too melodramatic and sentimental for modern tastes, but a great mystery, lots of suspense, and plenty of humour in some of the minor characters.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The Last Time They Met

The Last Time They Met - Anita Shreve

I picked this one up for 10p from the community centre bookstall. I've had a bit of a mixed relationship with Anita Shreve books - adored Light on Snow and bought several more of hers on the strength of that one, but though I quite liked them I wasn't blown away. But for 10p you can't go wrong and I thought it would make a change from the historical fiction.

Well, I loved it. Really a very good read, and amazingly put together. It reads backwards - you start with the couple aged 52, go on to read a section when they are 27 and end with them at 17. (The only other novel I've read with this structure is Sarah Waters' Nightwatch, another brilliant book.)

It's a love story. Two writers meet at a conference in Toronto - they haven't seen each other for 24 years. They reminisce. They are clearly each others' soul mates, but somehow circumstances have kept them apart. The reader pieces together their past from their conversation. They get together, and it is so right, so perfect. Then we are with them the last time they met, aged 27, in Africa, both married to other people, but unable to keep apart from each other. And finally, we find out how they met, aged 17, at school.

Initially I was irritated by certain aspects of this book. The quirky punctuation around speech. The introspectiveness of the characters. And I wondered how on earth it could reach a satistfying end, when it was going backwards to what must be the beginning? But it all made perfect sense in the end, and I finished the book knowing it could not have been put together in any other way.

Thoroughly recommended, whether or not you're a fan of Shreve.