What I read in December

Being snowed in has done wonders for my December reading.  What a good selection of books!

 The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers – Paul Torday – 4/5

Classic Torday: unusual storyline with unpleasant but strangely likeable characters.  Uncomfortable situations develop that would normally be resolved in other novels but Torday confronts them head-on with no sentimentality.

Brooklyn – Colm Toibin – 4/5

This tells the story of a young Irish girl, who goes to America to create a new life for herself.  An interesting and enjoyable read that’s not too demanding.

One Day – David Nicholls – 4/5

This follows the fortunes of two people over a twenty year period by telling their story on 15th July each year.  Things that I expected to happen, didn’t.  Things that I didn’t expect to happen, did. The structure of the novel could have made it very disjointed, but Nicholls weaved events together seamlessly.

The Winter Ghosts – Kate Mosse – 4.5/5

I don’t usually enjoy history or description and this novel had both.  A young man trying to come to terms with the death of his brother in WWI takes a trip to France.  This is so beautifully written and atmospheric that I couldn’t only imagine the scenes, I could feel them.  One of the best books I’ve ever read.

A Week in December – Sebastian Faulks – 4/5

We follow a group of characters during one week of their lives as their paths intertwine.  I found this novel very interesting, although some of the characters appealed to me more than others. I found it hard to concentrate on the financial explanations, which was a pity because I could have learnt a lot.  There are some interesting and thought-provoking observations on life in the twenty-first century.

A Redbird Christmas – Fannie Flagg – 2.5/5

Oswald T Campbell moves from Chicago to the South after the doctor warns him that his health is at risk.  The new community welcomes him with open arms.  For me, having read and enjoyed Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, this was a disappointment.  It lacked the latter’s quirky humour, leaving only a saccharine sweet story.

We are all Made of Glue – Marina Lewycka – 4.5/5

Georgina’s life is coming unstuck.  Her husband has left her and her son is obsessed with the end of the world.  She’s trying to write articles for an adhesives magazine and complete a romantic novel.  Life becomes even more complicated when she becomes involved with the eccentric Mrs Shapiro, her crumbling house and her stinky cats.  I loved this novel.  It was interesting, entertaining and well-written, and full of great characters.

A Special Relationship – Douglas Kennedy – 3/5

An exploration of post-natal depression and its chilling consequences, contained within a thriller-style plot.  I found it gripping but with stereotypical characters and situations.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark – 4.5/5

I hadn’t read this novel since I was the age of Miss Jean Brodie’s set and I really enjoyed it.  Miss Brodie is in her ‘prime’.  She picks her girls and undertakes to educate them in her own way.  I was completely taken in by Miss Brodie many years ago, but this time felt myself questioning her motives.  All-in-all, this made for an excellent, thought-provoking read.

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