After an extended break, I’ve started reading fiction again. I’d like to share my thoughts about what I’ve read. As my blog is more about my writing journey than it is about reviewing books, I’ve decided to do a monthly, rather than individual, blog book review post. Each monthly book review will contain a short review of some of the more interesting novels or books I’ve recently read. Please remember these reviews are only a reflection of my subjective experience of reading. If you have read any of them, I’d be interested to know what you thought, so please feel free to comment.
RAINMAKER (Don Pinnock)
THE VINTNER’S LUCK (Elizabeth Knox)
This is a difficult novel to review. ‘Strange’ is the word that springs to mind. The premise – a lifelong friendship between an angel and a vintner – interested me, because I like surreal and/or paranormal stories. When I started reading, I couldn’t put it down because the imagery was beautiful and the philosophical discussions on religious beliefs interesting although, at times, too obscure. So, what was the problem I had with this story? I couldn’t get emotionally attached to any of the characters. There was enough in the novel to keep me reading, but not enough to make me really care any more than an occasional twinge what happened to the characters because I was disconnected from their motives and emotions. Both Xas (the angel) and Sobran (the vintner) were not easy to know, and this was to the detriment of the story. The style was also difficult: too often, the reader was expected to make conceptual leaps of logic and/or imagination that, rather than intriguing me, simply made me lose interest. For such a beautifully written book, it’s a pity that it only engaged my head, but not my heart. I may have read the book, but I didn’t “live” it.
THE SIEGE (Helen Dunmore)
In the midst of the bitterest winter, and under siege from the advancing German army, Leningrad starves. And love could so easily die in the appalling conditions of deprivation and suffering. This interesting book paints a chilling (excuse the pun) picture of life in Leningrad in the early 1940’s, when Hitler’s army tried to invade Russia. The descriptions of extreme hunger and extreme cold, and their effects on the human body are detailed and fairly gruesome, but are well contrasted with human nature at its best and worst. A sister’s sacrifices for her young brother; a lover’s vigil in an icy room covered in frost and a doctor’s dedication to doing what he can in appalling circumstances, make this story real and readable. This is a harsh story about a bleak historical event, but it’s also an inspiring story about the strength of human nature.
THE DIVINE INVASION (Philip K Dick)
As I’m not a science fiction fan, I can’t remember why I bought this book. I struggled through technical terms and a vision of a future world that I fear may be all to real – isolated humans living in steel-cold domes on distant planets – and, when I realised that for four nights in a row I’d managed to avoid any reading rather than carry on reading this story, I eventually gave in about a quarter of the way through the novel. In between the high tech words, there were enough flashes of wit and glimmers of wisdom that make me think any sci-fi aficionados will find this a brilliant read.
That's it for this month! In October I'll select a few more books I've read and do another book review post. At last I'm making inroads into that huge "to-be-read" pile of mine! If I persist, and do not buy another book for a year, I may even finish the pile by, oh, about 2020!