While I was recovering from my operation I had lots of time to read. Sometimes it was chapters, sometimes it was just one or two pages before I fell asleep.
I’m a pretty slow reader but got through three. I finished The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, a book that was recommended by one of my clients because it heavily featured Frida Kahlo – the greatest Mexican painter of all time.
The book wasn’t as great as I’d hoped; I enjoy Barbara Kingsolver’s writing and I enjoyed the first part – the writers childhood – and loved the Mexican story that featured Frida. However, I did feel like the movie Frida had been heavily relied on as source material. Essentially, if you paid attention during the movie then you’ve seen most of the Frida Kahlo components of the book.
The latter part of The Lacuna is about post-war communism. Not my cup of tea – I struggled on then skimmed the last 100 pages to the end. Although The Lacuna did win the Orange Prize this year, I’m not recommending it.
Along with the rest of the world, I loved reading Audrey Niffenegger’s novel The Time Traveller’s Wife a couple of years ago. I was keen to get into her next novel, Her Fearful Symmetry after picking it up at Arty Bees secondhand book shop in Wellington recently and wasn’t disappointed. If you’re after a page-turner that was a good number of storylines and interesting characters then this is it.
The book is an easy read, telling the story of two sets of twins (mother, aunt and daughters) and what happens to them once the aunt dies (I’m not giving anything away here) and the girls inherit her apartment, which backs onto Highgate Cemetery in London. The characters in this book are what make it worthwhile – from Martin the OCD guy in the upstairs flat and his wife Mirijke, to Robert – former partner of the dead aunt – to probably my favourites, James and Jessica, the elderly couple that work at the cemetery. Her Fearful Symmetry isn’t as good as The Time Traveller’s Wife but is still a thoroughly enjoyable book until the last page.
Aside: I tried to read We were the Mulvaney’s by Joyce Carol Oates but got bored by chapter three. Far too much hype about ‘the big scandal’ meant I’d guessed it pretty soon in and didn’t really care to read the story.
I bought Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford on my June trip to Whitcoulls where I burnt through some book vouchers I’d been given. I’d heard of the Mitford sisters because one of my workmates is a fan and the story seemed kind of nuts and interesting – a farce of high society where the most beautiful girl falls for her lecherous uncle who was once also the lover of her mother.
The story trotted along at a merry pace, all very jolly hockey sticks and the kind of thing you read for reading’s sake more than anything. I didn’t find any of the characters particularly meaningful but enjoyed the story and it’s pace none the less. It’s another easy read and if you buy the orange Penguin classic then it’s only $13 so why not? Here’s more about the story.
I’m now reading Featherstone by Kirsty Gunn, a birthday present from little friend Helen and it’s great (four chapters in).