Friday, 19 September 2014

Two books by mates

The trouble with being a writer is that I know lots of other writers and they write such a lot of very good books and I want to read them all. Have I whinged about that before on here? Very probably. Anyway, here are the latest two I've read.

The Last Dance by Sally Quilford 
Sally is probably the best writer I know at plotting. Her books twist and turn and keep you guessing and turning the pages or clicking the kindle buttons. This is the first of a series (yay!) featuring 1960s policewoman Bobbie Blandford. She's new to the job but in her small town posting still ends up helping solve a murder case. Great setting, very evocative of the era (I can tell loads of research was done on policing in the 1960s!) and some wonderful characters. And through it all, there's a great plot as usual.

The Good Guy's Guide to Getting the Girl by Peter Jones
I first heard chapter one of this a couple of years ago at a writers' conference, and read another chapter on Peter's website afterwards. The finally finished book is structured quite differently I think to what I read before though my memory is atrocious so that might not be the case.

Jason Smith is around 30 and in need of a good woman. He's a good guy, but has no idea how to go about finding and chatting up suitable women. Until he takes up glamour photography, after losing his nine-to-five job. This book follows his adventures, the various women he comes across, some of whom take their clothes off for him (for the photos!) all the while aided or not by his best mate Alex.

There were times I wanted to slap Jason and give him some advice - in the way I'd want to slap a male friend who behaved the way he did. That I think is the mark of a great character - one who begins to feel like he's a real mate of yours.

Warm and humorous and brilliantly written. I hope this is the first of many novels from Peter.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Gallery of Vanished Husbands

The Gallery of Vanished Husbands by Natasha Solomons

Bought in Waitrose, as I have read her earlier two books and love her quirky style. Plus she's a local Dorset author!

Set mostly in the early 60s, Juliet is a young Jewish mother whose Hungarian refugee husband has deserted her. He just left, on her birthday, taking a portrait of her but leaving no explanation. No amount of searching for him by the local Jewish community throws up any trace as to where he has gone. Juliet needs to rebuild her life - and she does this by opening an art gallery. She has an eye for what's good and what's not, and it becomes a huge success. Along the way she acquires dozens more portraits of herself.

Eventually news comes that possibly her husband is in California, and Juliet goes there with her children in search of him...

I loved this book, just like Solomons' previous titles. Quirky, unusual, firmly rooted in its time period and community and with a heroine I won't forget quickly. As an 'aguna' (deserted wife) Juliet has no real identity in her community. That, I think, is why she felt the need to collect so many portraits of herself.