Sunday, 17 December 2017

Six in November

Playing catch-up here … I read six books in November

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak
Read on Kindle for book group. I hadn’t read Elif Shafak before but was looking forward to this as I was interested in knowing more about her native country, Turkey.

‘Peri, a wealthy Turkish housewife, is on her way to a dinner party at a seaside mansion in Istanbul when a beggar snatches her handbag. As she wrestles to get it back, a photograph falls to the ground – an old polaroid of three young women and their university professor. A relic from a past – and a love – Peri had tried desperately to forget.’

The premise was good and the story started with a bang but it kind of lost me after that. Rather than learning more about Turkey we spend much of the time in Oxford listening to undergraduates putting the world to rights – as they have been wont to do in many novels (and in real life) over the decades. The ‘three daughters of Eve’ are three Muslim girls – Mona the devout, Shirin the rebel, and Peri the unsure – Peri is troubled in various ways because of tensions within her family and because of her obsession with a charismatic Oxford lecturer.

I could really have done without all the Oxford angst and with much more of Peri’s home, the violent, noisy and hugely colourful city of Istanbul.

Jam Busters by Julie Summers
Although the cover shows an image from the television series Home Fires (lamentably axed despite much protest after two popular series) this is a non-fiction account of the considerable part the WI played during the Second World War from housing evacuees to collecting animal bones. Julie Summers’ research was instrumental in the tv series hence the connection. The ingenuity and dogged cheerfulness of the women who kept the home fires burning is humbling.

Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin
The first in a new detective series, set in Dumfries and Galloway. A detective with a difference – Frank Farrell was once a priest. He’d turned his back on the church but a violent murder which seems to have direct connections with the local parish priest takes him into a past he really doesn’t want to think about, and he finds out some very disturbing personal information. A page-turner – look forward to number two due out next year.

A snowed-in school reunion – which some of the class of ’96 will never be leaving. Can’t you just hear the background music … da da DAAA!!! A good twist on a classic plot, very entertaining.

Love, Lies and Linguine by Hilary Spiers
This is the sequel to Hester and Harriet which I read in August and loved, about two widowed sisters, their young relative Ben, and Daria, a mysterious young woman they take under their wing. In this second novel Hester and Harriet take themselves off to Italy where their holiday takes some unexpected turns while back home Ben gets into a whole lot of trouble. A joy.

Crisis by Frank Gardner
A boys’ own thriller from the respected TV journalist, involving drug cartels in South America and a large cast of characters – all the more to bump off in various gruesome ways. Rollicking stuff.

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