Tuesday 23 August 2022

What I've been reading in August

 Let's dive straight in and see what our book club chose for this month's book

Imagine waking one morning to find a box on your doorstep.  A small brown box, delivered to every adult over the age of 22.  Seemingly made of wood, each one identical, except for the name of the recipient.  Inscribed on every box is the message 'The measure of your life lies within'.

Inside every box is a single string, hiding under a silvery white piece of flimsy fabric.  The box is warning you to think twice before lifting the fabric, because once you have done that, you cannot go back.  The length of your string will allegedly tell you how much longer your life will last.

Imagine.  What would you do?  Would you want to know the answer?  Would seeing a short piece of string make you give up your job, withdraw all your savings and travel the world while you could?  Would a long piece of string make you reckless, knowing that whatever happened you still had a long life to lead?  How about if one of a partnership has a long string and the other a short one?  How would that affect the relationship. A long string does not necessarily mean a charmed life, you could still contract illnesses or have life changing accidents.  

So many questions - and whilst you know it is just a work of fiction, what do you think you would do?  Would you want to know?  How would it change your decisions?

I don't know what I would do, or how it would affect how I would make decisions based on what I discovered.  What I do know is that this book challenged me to think about things and I am pleased that I have read it.

Now onto book two, Still Life by Sarah Winman

Now, this book was recommended to me by a guy I used to go to school with.  We used to be in the same English Literature class and when we have our reunions the conversation often turns to what we are reading.  Last time we met he had heard this book being reviewed on Sara Cox's 'Between the Covers' programme on BBC and was throughly enjoying it. 

It is 1944 and two strangers sheltering from falling bombs in a wine cellar in Tuscany share an evening together.  Ulysses Temper is a young British soldier and Evelyn Skinner is an older art historian and possible spy who has come to Italy to salvage paintings and relive the time that she met E M Forster.  Their meeting has a profound effect on Ulysses and over the time period 1944 - 1979 their lives almost cross on several occasions.  Unbeknown to either of them, they end up having several mutual acquaintances and it is so clever how their two stories are intertwined.

It took me a couple of chapters to get into this book but once it had drawn me in, I had trouble putting it down.  The characters are just so interesting and love is quite a theme in this book, love for friends, love for family and romantic love.  It is set in London and Florence and I really feel like I would like to live in that little square where Ulysses makes his new life after a very unusual set of circumstances which mean he goes from penniless ex-soldier in the war ravaged East End of London to a man of property running a Pensione and making hand made globes in Italy.  

The time period covers some huge historical events and it is interesting to see how these things affect the motley crew of characters in the book.  Don't ask me to choose a favourite because I couldn't - for many reasons I became fond of them all.

Do I recommend this one?  Yes I do!

And finally - one that sounded like it was going to be similar in style to Richard Osman's Thursday Murder club.

The scene is set in a bed and breakfast hotel in the Loire valley in France which is run by Richard, a middle aged Englishman.  Richard is happy with the normal routine of everyday life, so is somewhat upset when one of his guests disappears, leaving just a bloody handprint on the wall and smashed spectacles in the bathroom. A fellow guest, Valerie, persuades Richard that they should investigate the disappearance and he reluctantly joins her in the hunt.  

This was an easy read, and I can imagine it being made into a light hearted tv programme.  Poor Richard is dragged into the investigation, often out of his depth and all the time trying to come to terms with the imminent break up of his marriage.  It seems that whenever his daughter chooses to FaceTime him, she finds him in what looks like a compromising position and he is convinced that this is not helping his cause in trying to get back with his wife. There is definitely a wide range of characters, from the naturist 'swingers' running a nearby establishment to the Italian couple who seem very suspicious and the aged judge who is the twin of the man who has disappeared.

It was a light hearted read to end the month, a little bit predictable and a little bit cliche at times but it certainly held my attention to the end.


Barbara Eads said...

I always enjoy your book reviews. I keep adding the books you recommend to my list. I'll never be able to read them all!

Patio Postcards said...

I am currently reading The Measure. Very interesting. I've put this Still Life on the TBR list. Thanks for the reviews.

Susanne said...

I am on the fence about even starting The Measure, still on the waiting list at the library and losing interest by the day. Since August is nearly over I may see if I can hunt down Still Life instead. Thanks for sharing your reviews of the books.

Jennifer said...

Definitely some interesting choices - ones I would not have gravitated toward which is why I really enjoy reading reviews. Thanks for sharing yours....I hope you are having a good week!!