Another two months have flown by since I last wrote about the 5 books I read in January. Our Book Club is growing very quickly (hello perfect lockdown entertainment!) and I’ve tried to keep up my 2020 goal of a book a week. I’m a little behind but it’s not bad going! Below are quick and very honest reviews of the 5 books I managed across the last two months…
Join Beth’s Book Club! It’s a brilliant and highly-engaged online book club discussing a new read (or two) every month.
5 Mini Book Reviews: What I read
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Burrows
Set in 1946 at the end of WWII, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (try saying that after one too many!) tells the story of writer, Juliet Ashton, and her love affair with the channel island of Guernsey. Through letter writing with the islands’ residents she learns of their experience during the Nazi occupation. The narrative is brilliant; Juliet is one of the best written first-person narratives I’ve come across. The letters are charismatic and paint a really vivid picture. When Juliet finally embarks on a life-changing journey across the channel a gentle and romantic love affair begins…
It’s a sweet, gentle book for when you need something lovely to read. I didn’t find it particularly gripping but it’s the definition of heartwarming and a must if you enjoy historical fiction.
A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
A Spark of Light was our February book club pick. I’m only a teeny bit ashamed to say that I put this one in the DNF (did not finish) pile. I gave up just under half way through because I was struggling with the chronology and I really felt as though I had no desire to find out what happened! The premise is interesting; a shooting in an abortion clinic, a stand off with the armed negotiation team and a 15 year old girl captive. The book works on a backward chronology, unfolding the events that led up to the shooting. In theory its a great idea and a contentious topic but in reality I found it poorly executed and a little…boring. The consensus at our book club discussion was largely the same!
Read next: 42 Books to Read in Self-Isolation (split by genre!)
What You Did by Claire McGowan
What You Did is a very readable if not particularly exciting domestic thriller. I use the term thriller loosely…Ali’s husband, Mike, is accused of raping her best friend Karen. Ali is forced to decide who she believes. The exploration of the discourse surrounding rape and what it truly means to be an ally is interesting and provocative. There’s also a running side story as a cold-case from when the group were studying at Oxford is dragged up. The actual did he/didn’t he is quite boring, though I didn’t predict the ending. I struggled with Ali, the lead character, who is fundamentally not particularly likeable. My biggest objection was a running narrative in reference to Karen, who failed her Oxford degree; she’s painted as poor little drop-out Karen, working in a supermarket on minimum wage and living in an awful, repulsive flat. So unimaginative. I’m not rushing to recommend it but it’s gripping that I read it quickly!
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Such a Fun Age is one of my favourite books I’ve read recently! It took me a while to get into (maybe because I read it in hardback) but once I did I raced through it. Emira, a twenty-something black American, babysits for a wealthy, white family. One night she’s accused by a supermarket ‘cop’ of kidnapping her 5 year old charge. What unfolds is a really provocative look into inter-racial relationships, ally-ship and class conflict. I struggled with one of the lead characters, Alix, and found her narrative weak. I was able to forgive the parts in which I found the plot a bit lacking because I ultimately found myself thinking about what I’d just read each time I shut the cover. It feels a bit like a coming of age novel and at times is a little immature but ultimately a must read!
The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
Oh I just loved The Cactus. I went into it with few expectations and came out with watery eyes and a deep rooted love for Susan, the main character. She’s prickly, awkward, painfully specific and probably on the autistic spectrum. She’s also incredibly endearing. When she finds herself pregnant at 45 and in the middle of a legal dispute with her brother over their late mothers estate, Susan’s expertly organised life falls into chaos. Along the way she finds friendship and love in unlikely places. If you enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant or the Rosie Project series, you’ll love this. It’s even better!
What have you read recently?