Having just steamed through Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn I felt it was time to consider what other books have fallen into this category for me. I rabitted on and on about this book the whole time I was reading it (thank you to my patient pal). So I began to wonder, what other books have turned me into a one-woman marketing machine and is there anything that ties them together? I’m going to work backwards chronologically from Jamaica Inn until I run out of steam. I will include a short, probably excited, opinion here and will produce an extended review when time permits. In the immortal words of Rick Sanchez: ‘awaaaay we go’.
Jamaica Inn dark, brooding and oh so compelling. Something about the long descriptive passages carried me away throughout reading. The sense of threat is palpable and I may never enjoy rambling in the moors again. Mary’s proto-feminist sense of duty is wonderful. She’s not perfect, we’ve all made mistake because of dashing horse thieves so give her a break, but she is eminently likeable. Her devotion to her aunt is warming and her spirit is stronger than I could have imagined at the start of the novel, to use a horrible though apt phrase; she’s got spunk in spades. I have to thank my good friend Jules for lending me this beautiful book and, if you’re reading, I promise it will be returned to you shortly. I started this hoping to end on a ‘But…’ to demonstrate that I’m a good critical reader but I can’t (see what I did there? Does it count?).
I am Pilgrim This might be the only novel in the history of fiction that myself and all five of my immediate family members read and enjoyed (yes I am including Harry Potter). Any book which can enthrall a 15 year old boy, a 20 year old girl and a 54 year old man (and everything in between) must have something special about it. For this novel, though superbly written, I believe the hook was the plot. It’s rare to find a book with such a complex storyline which maintains a coherent narrative arc. I was hooked, it might look like a daunting long read but once I got into it every time I stopped reading I wondered where the last 100 pages had gone.
Poisonwood Bible I cried and cried and cried. The five narrators are handled beautifully and somehow each of the voices is equally authentic. Each of the four daughter’s and their mother, who narrate the novel, live in the shadow of the father, a strict minister on a civilising mission. The vulnerability of these girls and women tears at the reader’s heart as beneath the oppression each of them has a strong, independent personality. This novel forces questions of authority as well as making us consider our understanding of the colonising mission. Set in the 1950s I found this book greatly educational and as each of the narrative viewpoints reflects a distinct approach to the Congo The Poisonwood Bible encourages us to question our own assumptions.
Complicity I don’t know if this love affair was book or context led but this is probably my stand out favourite Iain Banks novel and I’m pretty fond of his work. First the novel itself. It’s speedy (pardon the pun), dark and ominous. Ostensibly a murder mystery this novel follows a journalist and an unidentified serial killer. The scene setting is wonderful, I have a soft spot for the Highlands, but so is the writing in general. Colley is despicable enough that for most of the novel you find yourself doubting everything he says. It’s a tough book to follow at times but if you ask me it’s 100% worth sticking with to its gruesome end point.
That’s all for now folks, although knowing me this list will grow into a monstrosity again before the month is out.
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