A sad story of an estranged family reunited by the death of the husband/father; story in both Africa and America. Issues of (no) communication and secrets.
Introspective book about relationships (my favourite topic); a single woman teacher and a Lebanese-Parisian family of three. The “woman upstairs” is a female construct – quiet, polite and causes no trouble; because of putting oneself down, becomes invisible and discounted. There is a terrific section describing the difference between longing and desire.
Trans Atlantic is a wistful Irish-American story that follows 4 generations of women. A beautiful book. (previous book = Let The Great World Spin) –
A memoir by a book lover, a book binder (briefly) but mostly a book seller in Toronto. As a memoir, mostly filled with anecdotes but a wistful look at the era of second hand bookshops that is disappearing.
Another dysfunctional family book with abusive father, an alcoholic mother who dropped/threw a child into Niagara Falls (postpartum depression?) and three sisters who are the focus (how children cope). There is a chapter entitled Disneyland which is superb black humour; the next chapter is heartbreaking. Gowdy also wrote Fearless about a 9 year old girl who is abducted; the abductor is delusional and obsessed but amazingly becomes somewhat sympathetic because he tries to suppress his pedophilic tendencies. Both these books are tough reads but excellent.
- Winter’s End by Mark Helprin;
- The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman;
- Old Filth by Jane Gardam.
Double Fault by Lionel Shriver;
And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
- Majorr. Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson (very British story of honour and duty, unrequited love, racism and sexism …)
- The Boy In The Striped Pajamas – John Boyne (the tragedy of the holocaust from the contrasting viewpoints of two nine year-old boys)
- Behind The Scenes At The Museum – Kate Atkinson (her first book, excellent story-telling, both funny and sad; another “bad mother” book cf. Silver Star)
- The Painted Girls – Cathy Marie Buchanan (1880s Paris, three sisters and a dissolute single mother; one sister joins the ballet and is the model for Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer Age 14”. A hard life)
- Lionel Asbo (Martin Amis);
- Bone and Bread (Saleema Nawaz; complex relationship between sisters in a story set mostly in Montreal’s Mile End);
- How To Be A Woman (Caitlin Moran; stories about growing up in England, alternating between hysterically funny and insightful/poignant);
- The Tiny Wife (Andrew Kaufman; only 85 small pages but such an imagination)