The Grey Man

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Read 20/09/2019-01/10/2019

Rating 4 stars

The Grey Man is an historical adventure novel set in South Ayrshire around the villages of Maybole, Girvan and Ballantrae and across the moorlands of Carrick and Kyle. Narrated by Launcelot Kennedy, it concerns the warring factions of the Kennedy clan, divided between the Earl of Cassillis and the Laird of Bargany, during the 17th century. Launcelot is of the clan that supports Cassillis.

I bought this book because we have holidayed a few times in the area, and I wanted to read a novel that revealed something about the history of the region. I couldn’t have chosen better. Continue reading

The Confessions of Frannie Langton

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Read 24/06/2019-25/06/2019

Rating 3 stars

A friend recommended The Confessions of Frannie Langton to me ages ago, so I reserved it at the library. Everyone else in Manchester wanted to read it, apparently, so it took weeks and weeks and arrived just when I already had an armful of library books to read. When I finally got to it, I only had two days left in which to read it. Fortunately, it’s a page turner, and I managed to whip through it.

The story of Frannie Langton is a feisty one. She begins her tale as a prisoner on trial for murder, but not even she is sure whether she did it or not. Her lawyer asks her to write down anything she remembers that will help her case, and so she writes her life story.

Continue reading

The Shape of the Ruins

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Read 18/05/2019-29/05/2019

Rating 5 stars

The Shape of the Ruins is the story of the writer Juan Gabriel Vásquez and his involvement with two men who are obsessed by the assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in 1948. Gaitán is real. Vásquez is real. I don’t know whether Carlos Carballo or Dr Francisco Benavides, the man who introduces Vásquez to Carballo, are real. It’s a novel about truth and the multiple truths of history. It’s a novel about how politically charged events can have decades of reverberation, affecting the lives of those who are unaware of the origin moment. It’s a novel of connections obscured by the twists and turns in their paths. Ultimately, it’s a novel about power and its influence over truth. Continue reading

The Crimson Petal and the White

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Read 22/12/2018-08/01/2019

Rating: 5 stars

I loved the BBC adaptation of Michel Faber’s novel about life in Victorian England from both sides of the wealth divide. It was a pleasure to finally read the book. Faber writes with fluidity and poise, balancing a phrasing appropriate to the era he describes with a tone that suits the modern ear.

I truly loved this book, Continue reading

Washington Black

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Read 21/10/2018-10/11/2018

Rating: 3.5 stars

I was itching to read Washington Black as soon as it made the long list for the 2018 Booker Prize. Its strapline “Escape is only the beginning” carried an air of intrigue and adventure with it, and the premise of a young black slave plucked from the horrors of plantation life to assist an inventor in his flights of fancy promised something a little different in approach to the usual telling of the story of slavery. The book mostly hits its mark and is worthy of its place on the Booker short list, the thing that prompted me to pick the book off the New Stock Just In shelves at the library. Continue reading

White Houses

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Read 24/07/2018-29/07/2018

Rating: 5 stars

I don’t recall who brought Amy Bloom’s White Houses to my attention, but I’m grateful. Since my first degree I have had a history crush on FDR. It was later that I developed a separate history crush on Eleanor.

Bloom’s book is an imagining of Lorena Hickok’s relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt. The prologue got me thinking about being in thrall to love. Or maybe the feeling of falling in love. Continue reading