What I read in June

These are my June reads

Brixton Beach – Roma Tearne – 3/5      Alice and her family are forced to flee Sri Lanka to escape political unrest and personal tragedy.  The first half of this novel is set in Sri Lanka, the second half follows their lives in a very different setting, London.  Although this is a very well written novel with a story that made me want to continue reading, there aren’t many (any?) light moments, which made it a bit gloomy and depressing.  This is the first novel I’ve read by this author and I would definitely read more.

 Saturday – Ian McEwan – 4.5/5     Set on the day of the Iraq war demonstrations, 15th February 2003, this novel follows the repercussions of Henry Perowne’s confrontational encounter with a stranger and explores both personal and public fear in the aftermath of the New York terrorist attacks.  McEwan is a ‘clever’ writer, simultaneously intellectual and accessible, and I always feel that every event and reference is there for a reason.  Very much a stream of consciousness novel, I have to say it’s one of my favourites.

Hearts and Minds – Amanda Craig – 4/5     This follows the intertwining stories of members of London’s immigrant population.  I felt irritated at the beginning as Craig’s presentation of the characters conformed to stereotypical beliefs about immigrants.  It also felt more like a collection of short stories.  However, as the various narratives progressed and interweaved and I got to know the characters better, it became more cohesive and I felt if she had been deliberately challenging prejudices.  This is very good novel and one which I found difficult to put down.

 The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters – 4/5     This novel explores a family clinging to their past in a changing world.  They are haunted not only by a lost way of life but also by their personal experiences.  I’d heard very mixed reports on this novel so approached it with some trepidation, expecting not to like it.  However, I found myself hooked from the start and it maintained my interest throughout.

 The Soldier’s Song – Alan Monaghan – 3.5/5     It’s 1914.  Ireland is facing political crisis and Europe is heading into war.  This novel is about one soldier’s personal experience of these events.  I felt a bit reluctant to read this as I’m not into Irish history/politics and the First World War, and there were several moments during the first half when I wasn’t sure that I was going to continue.  However, I persevered to the end and I’m so glad I did.  I found it a very realistic account of an individual’s experience of war and the impact it has on his life.  There were many different strands: family conflict, love, war, death and the psychological effect.  It is what I would call a ‘complete’ novel.  Some novels you don’t have to read until the end and in fact the end is disappointing and spoils the enjoyment of the rest of the novel.  For me, a ‘complete’ novel is one that you have to read it right to the end to fully appreciate it: the ending makes the novel.

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