Falling Angels by Barbara Gowdy

falling-angels-by-barbara-gowdyAnother 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.

July 2013

  • 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)

April 2013

  • 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)

Best of 2012

  • Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern): magic and reality are integrated
  • The Informationist (Taylor Stevens): excellent adventure/mystery; intriguing central character; set in Africa
  • 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami): outstanding; real imagination
  • Dancing Lessons (Olive Senior): really excellent; introspection into roles as woman/wife/mother; failure to communicate; perception/reality
  • Something Fierce (Carmen Aguirre): Giller winner; emotional cost of being a child of revolutionary parents in South America
  • The Art of Fielding (Chad Harbach): baseball as a metaphor for guy relationships and the pursuit of perfection
  • Canada (Richard Ford): excellent
  • By Blood (Ellen Ullman): really interesting book about identity, adoption, Jewish heritage
  • Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn): really excellent psychological who-dunnit; best book in 2012
  • Hanging Hill (Mo Hayder): excellent murder mystery set in Bath and SW England
  • Defending Jacob (William Landay): legal thriller, about the possibility that a son is evil; really excellent