I always read at least a couple of books when I go away on holiday so I have a few books to share this month!
The first is The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley which was our book club choice for this month.
After an unpleasant incident in London, Jess decides to take some time out in France and visit her half brother, Ben who is a journalist. On arrival in Paris she receives a voicemail from Ben with details of how to gain entry to his apartment block and to say that he will be there to meet her. However, on arrival, Ben is not answering his door and seems to have mysteriously disappeared.
Jess finally manages to gain entry to the building but Ben's absence is confusing. She gradually gets to know the other residents of the block. But there is an underlying feeling that no one is who they appear to be, and that everyone is harbouring a secret. Jess also realises that the other residents do not seem to particularly like her brother. She is also puzzled, because this is a very prestigious building, how on earth can Ben afford to live here? He had come to Paris to visit his friend Nick while carrying out research and has now simply disappeared. A more careful listen to his voicemail reveals background noises which may give some clues as to what happened.
I have mixed feelings about whether or not I would recommend this book. It was a little slow in places and some of the characters seemed a little cliche but it has a twist at the end that I did not anticipate.
I then moved onto another mystery - The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex.
In 1972 a ferry leaves the coast of Cornwall bringing over a crew member for his stint on the remote lighthouse, Maiden Rock. When they arrive, the lighthouse is locked from the inside, there are the remains of a meal on the table, the clocks have stopped at exactly the same time and the three lighthouse men are nowhere to be seen. When the investigations begin they find that the weather log which was completed daily by the Principal Keeper bears no resemblance to the actual weather conditions that the area has experienced. He has noted storms raging around the lighthouse, yet in reality the weather has been fine.
Years later, a writer convinces the three women that the men left behind to speak to him about how they have coped and to ask them what they believe happened to the men they loved. Instead of uniting the women, the tragedy has divided them and it seems impossible to find one true explanation of what happened.
Whilst this is based on a true story, I can only assume that the chapter which describes the final days of life on the lighthouse is pure fiction but it is an interesting theory on what may have happened to three very different men, with totally different life experiences, thrown together in a confined space in isolation for weeks at a time. In such unusual living conditions there can be a very fine line between reality and imagination. What really happened?
Time for a less mysterious novel! Next on my list was The Distance Between Us by Maggie O'Farrell
On a winter afternoon in London, Stella thinks that she sees a man who she has not seen for years and the shock sends her travelling to a remote location in Scotland which has a special significance for her and her sister Nina. Thousands of miles away in a crowd celebrating Chinese New Year, Jake is caught up in a dangerous situation which has far reaching consequences for him. Feeling traumatised by his experience he feels obliged to make a decision that he later regrets.
As time moves on, Jake feels trapped in a situation which was never in his plans. He is desperate to escape and in a quest to find information about the father he never knew, Jake leaves Hong Kong and finally ends up in the same location as Stella.
This book receives conflicting reviews but I really enjoyed it! The very odd relationship between Stella and her sister Nina is drip fed through the chapters and I felt real sympathy for Stella whose life has been shaped by an event that happened to Nina when she was growing up. Stella clearly loves her sister, but oh how her life could have been different.
And finally, How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
Emilia returns to her childhood home in the Cotswolds following the death of her father. She had promised that she would keep the bookshop that he opened following the death of her mother many years before.