Friday, 31 August 2012

Catch-up part 2

A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel
This novel is set in the French Revolution and has as its main protagonists Georges-Jacques Danton, Maximilien Robespierre and Camille Desmoulins. What Mantel does here (as she does in Wolf Hall) is to take characters who are traditionally seen as out and out evil doers and show a different, more human side to them. She doesn't gloss over their faults or the terrible deeds they commit, but they are rounded human beings, not pantomime villains. This is an absorbing story, and one which I had to concentrate on. There is a vast cast of characters and I had to refer frequently to the character list at the front of the book. How does this work on a kindle? Is possible to mark a page and go back to it without click, click clicking right through the book?

The Good Father by Noah Hawley
This is a thrilling novel about a man whose son shoots an American Presidential candidate. Paul Allen is a successful man who is living a happy, secure life with his second wife and their two young sons. The news of what his son from his first marriage has done completely knocks him off the rails. He is determined to prove his son didn't do it, the more he learns about his son, the more he questions his effectiveness as a father. I thought this was an excellent book.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
This is a real page turner. After the death of her mother Blue van Meer and her father travel seemingly aimlessly around America, never staying anywhere for very long. But when Blue's father decides he wants her to go to Harvard they settle so that Blue can concentrate on her studies and finish high school. Here she falls under the spell of teacher Hannah Schneider and her group of acolytes who are known as the Bluebloods. The Bluebloods think of themselves as the elite of the school but in fact are quite damaged young people. A tragedy occurs, and Blue's life takes a different trajectory. I was a bit unsure about the ending, but did enjoy the book.

A Quiet Life by Beryl Bainbridge
This story begins with Alan meeting his sister for the first time in years. Their mother has died and he wants to sort out the will with her. But she's not interested, though she's glad to see him. This sends Alan's memory spinning back to when they were children in the 1940s and what a wayward girl Madge was. Bainbridge creates the home life of Alan and his family beautifully. Tense and angry inside the house, but everyone must put a united front for the neighbours, it made me tense just reading it. I've read a couple of other books by Beryl Bainbridge and I'll definitely be looking out for more.


  1. That Hilary Mantel is a chunky book!
    I've wanted to read Special Topics for a while, so I'm glad to see you enjoyed it.

    1. It certainly is Sam - it's one to immerse yourself in! I'll be interested to see what you make of Special Topics, particularly the ending.