Saturday, 14 May 2016

Jakob's Colours by Lindsay Hawdon

I'm finding some absolutely beautiful and also absolutely heartbreaking books in the library at the moment - this one, Jakob's Colours, was recommended by a friend, and is right up there with the best of them.

I am conscious that I've been using the word "beautiful" quite a lot in recent reviews, but just switching the word does not alter the fact that sometimes it is the best description. Jakob's Colours is beautifully written, and I adore the characters who inhabit its pages and the tiny cupboards within its walls. The Roma Holocaust - the Porajmos - is little-visited in literature, and rarely does any book telling the untellable do it with such devastating beauty.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

And the Mountains Echoed is a beautifully written, intense, and accomplished novel, as you'd expect from the author of The Kite Runner and the even more splendid A Thousand Splendid Suns.

I did feel that I'd have liked to have spent more time with some of the characters at the heart of the novel, followed them in more detail over all the years they travelled in search of what was lost, but that's a testament to Hosseini's engagingly human characters and powerful storytelling in what is both a heartbreaking and an uplifting journey.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist is a wonderfully inventive and sensuous novel with fantastic characters - both human sized and miniature! - and a deeply engrossing plot. The sights and sounds and smells and claustrophobic politics of 17th century Amsterdam infuse this intelligent novel, and the plot has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing - even if you might have seen some of them coming!

The key to the sheer delight of this novel is the core thread of the relationship between the central character, Nella, and the mysterious miniaturist, which is nicely poised between the beneficent and the sinister and keeps you reading avidly to the end of this excellent book.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Gingerbread by Robert Dinsdale

This is another beautifully written book: Gingerbread by Robert Dinsdale, is a wonderfully eloquent and genuinely disturbing contemporary fairy tale which is also as old and as wide as the forest into which we venture, fearing the wolves in men's clothing; the wolves in all of us, even those we love and trust the most.

This is an often heart-rending story about trauma and love, about memory and forgetting, about the past and the present, about trying to keep impossible promises, and is above all a wonderfully-written, frequently nightmarish story, as well as a thoroughly gripping read.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

At Hawthorn Time by Melissa Harrison

This book caught my eye while I was browsing the library shelves because I'd previously read - and absolutely loved - Melissa Harrison's previous novel, Clay.

At Hawthorn Time did not disappoint: whilst, in some respects, Jack and Jamie reminded me of the central two characters in Clay, it was the style of her writing as much as the theme of the misunderstood which echoes through both novels here, and the intense and believable truth she evokes in her characters.
Harrison steeps her stories in nature in both novels, and it is in At Hawthorn Time that this is more explicit and intimately, outstandingly successful.  Another beautiful, beautiful novel, evocative, intense, and deeply moving.