A re-read of this brilliant 2004 book reveals themes that feature prominently in her subsequent books: family relationships, especially between sisters, and the cruelty of religious fundamentalism. Nomi is 16 years old and living a stultifying life in a strict Mennonite community characterized by sin, shame, powerlessness, fear, and punishment by silence (shunning). In short, this is a chilling portrayal of adolescent angst in an extreme context, with some inspired comic interludes – a must-read book.
Another brilliant book by Ms. Mandel, a sweeping epic that spans from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a moon colony in 2401. Intriguingly, there are links to Mandel’s previous novel, The Glass Hotel, and to post-pandemic literature in general. And there is an author on a book tour and a time traveller. Absorbing and immersive, this is a fantastic futuristic novel that eerily captures our current reality. Highly recommended.
Ms. Winman writes inspired novels (When God Was a Rabbit, A Year of Marvellous Ways, Tin Man). Her new book is a love letter to Florence and to Italian life in general. There is love of art, great food and wine, and love between humans with all its complications. The lives of diverse English people are detailed beautifully over 35 years, from 1944-2009. There are some remarkably eccentric characters that constitute an extended family. This is a “must read” book.
Amy adds: one of my favourites of the year so far – she’s a favourite author.
Ms. Rooney’s new book is about four 30-year-olds: Alice and Eileen, Simon and Felix. Although older than the teenagers in Normal People, these adults are no more successful in their relationships. Despite deep friendships and yes, love, they can be frustratingly emotionally distant, deflecting a question with a question as the rejoinder. Overall, a fabulous examination of the modern world. Desire is complicated with delusion; perceptions of happiness are clouded by anxiety and uncertainty. A brilliant book – highly recommended.
An early Atwood treasure from the 1970s with beautiful descriptive writing – this description off a restaurant meal is on page 1: “two restaurants which served identical grey hamburger steaks plastered with mud gravy and canned peas, watery and pallid as fish eyes, and french fries heavy with lard”. Is your mouth watering? The narrator is an un-named young woman who travels to a remote lake in Northern Quebec with three friends, to seek her missing father. There is an eerily effective transition to sinister happenings, but the true gem of the writing is the unfiltered dialog in the narrator’s head: this story is both spooky and brilliant, a must read.
This is the continuing story of Frank Starlight. Much of the story is quiet and contemplative, describing how to live as one with the land through solitude and your senses (sight, hearing). The result is healing and redemption, expressed in two very different lives. The story was unfinished at the time of Wagamese’s death in March 2017 but the conclusion is evident. This is just masterful story-telling, a final fitting legacy for a remarkable author.