Sunday 3 April 2022

What I've been reading - the March edition


I started the month with our book club choice of 'I must betray you' by Ruth Sepetys.

I will begin by admitting that it wasn't the book I voted for and bearing in mind the troubles going on in the world at the moment I wasn't sure that I would find it easy to read.  The book follows a 17 year old student, Cristian, who lives in Bucharest, Romania in 1989.  The communist regime at the time is harsh; there are strict rules and the people live in constant fear.  Cristian is told that in order for his sick grandfather to receive medication he must become an informer.  As the story unravels it appears that there are more informers in his friends and family than he realises and he has no idea who he can trust.  The end of the story, when he discovers who has been reporting on him surprised me no end.  The book describes the revolution in Romania and ultimately the execution of the President and his wife.  It is only then that the people of Romania realised just how much hardship they had needlessly suffered and how many lies they had been told.

Reading this at the time of such awful atrocities going on enhanced the bleakness of the life Cristian was forced to live.  I learned a lot from this book and it has definitely left an impression on me.  In 1989 I was a young mum living a normal life in the UK, I had no idea how difficult things were for a family in Romania at the same time.  This is actually published as a young adult book and I believe that any young adult who reads this will be amazed at how harsh life was under a dictatorship.


I needed a little escapism after this, so turned to the second in the Inspector Gamache series, A Fatal Grace.

We are transported back to the village of Three Pines in the midst of winter.  We meet C C de Poitiers in the first pages of the book, and first impressions are of a very self centred woman.  Her death is unusual to say the least.  She is electrocuted on a frozen lake at the annual curling tournament.  There were crowds of people there, yet no one saw how it happened.  Inspector Gamache is called upon again where he finds that C C had few friends and the list of likely suspects goes on and on.  At the same time that this is being investigated, a homeless woman, known only as Elle, is found strangled in the doorway of a shop and among her few possessions is a book of poetry signed by the author (who coincidentally lives in Three Pines) and a box containing a random collection of alphabet letters. 

What a mystery.  There was certainly no problems finding someone who may have wished her dead, and at times you wondered if the whole village was in on the act!  I'm enjoying Inspector Gamache, I like his character and his ethics in solving the mysteries and I suspect that number three in the series will soon be finding its way onto my kindle!


The third book I have been reading is The Villa by Clare Boyd

This book concentrates on Nora, who has invited her daughters and their families to a luxury villa in France with a view to sharing a wonderful holiday before she passes on some devastating news.  She anxiously awaits the best time to tell them but is unaware that she is not the only family member with secrets to hide.  She has not been the best mother to either of her daughters and relationships between all the women are a little fragile to say the least.  

I wanted to enjoy this book, I really did, but I could not warm to any of the main characters.  Nora is completely self absorbed and I cannot see how on earth she could convince herself that telling her family what she is doing and what she had done in the past was ever in the best interests of anyone else.  I guess she felt that in sharing her secrets she was clearing her conscience. Sadly I found myself longing to get to the end. 


Patio Postcards said...

Always appreciate book reviews & recommendations.

I can highly recommend all of the Louise Penny, Chief Inspector Gamache books. I'm currently re-reading them & reading in order is important as characters develop.

Ruth said...

For the first time ever, there's nothing here making it onto my TBR list ... sorry about that!

Gail Is This Mutton? said...

I like the sound of Inspector Gamache so will give that a try! Your review of The Villa struck a chord, I often wonder why people always feel the need to share secrets which no-one will want to hear.

Barbara Eads said...

So many books! More to add to my list! The only books I read these days are referrals!