Monday, August 5, 2013

July Reading

Well, July reading, but first a book from November, because I just found my review sitting there in draft form!

Louise Nicholas: My Story by Louise Nicholas and Philip Kitchin
The story of Louise Nicholas, who was raped by policemen over a number of years, as told by Louise, and by investigative reporter Phil Kitchin. It is a horrible story of the intolerable situation of women raped, and left with nowhere to go to complain, because of the determination of other police to cover it all up. It is also the story of an amazingly courageous woman, with an amazing family. It is written with alternating chapters, one by Louise presenting the personal story, and one by Phil presenting his investigation as a journalist. This works really well. Louise's writing is simple and personal which, despite the extraordinary subject matter, would become irritating if the whole book was just her writing. Phil writes like the journalist he is, which again, would get irritating if the whole book was written as a series of articles. Together it works. I found it hard to put down, and despite the horrendous, matter of fact descriptions of the rapes, is an important read. It offers much to consider about the nature of society, the foolishness of trusting people just because of their job, and about the importance of loyalty and how loyalty must have boundaries. Louise sets such a wonderful example to us all: she didn't give up on exposing the truth; she didn't give up on herself; and even after all she has been through, she doesn't give up on the police, recognising and acknowledging that there are good cops. This is one amazing woman. 

And so, on to the books I've read this last month - and we'll just have to forget about all the books I read from December to June!

Novels

The Adoption by Anne Berry
Lucilla discovers when she is 14 that she was adopted, but it is not until she is in her late forties and her adoptive mother dies that she obtains information that enables her to search for her mother. The story is told from the perspective of Lucilla, her natural mother, Bethan, and her adoptive mother, and examines mother - daughter relationships, and other family relationships. It is well written, and best of all, it does not have a sickly, happy-ever-after ending, but rather a hopeful and unexpected ending. I really enjoyed this book.

So Happy Together by Maryann McFadden
Claire Noble is a single mother and history teacher. She has also been trying to care for her aging parents. Claire is engaged to Rick Saunders, who is offering her both security and the opportunity to travel. Before their wedding, she is planning to spend a summer at Cape Cod studying with a well known photographer.
However just before she is due to leave, her estranged daughter suddenly shows up pregnant, and her father's health deteriorates. Eventually, Claire, her parents, and her daughter, all go to Cape Cod, and the book revolves around the relationships between the characters, their own personal development, and again, the examination of inter-generational relationships and contrasts. I really enjoyed this library book, to the degree that I bought a second novel of McFadden's to read on my Kindle.

 The Book Lover by Maryann McFadden
Books have been Ruth Hardaway's passion all her life, and she has owned a book shop for 30 years. Lucinda Barrett's life has fallen apart around her, and so she decides to go after her dream for one last time. She has submitted a novels to many agents and been turned down, so now she decides to self publish and to publicise it herslf also. She drives across the country trying to get book shops to take her book, and eventually meets Ruth. This book is interesting because although it seems implausible, it is, in fact, what McFadden did with her first book, which proved popular enough that a publisher approached her and took over.
The book is about relationships, both the romantic / lover / marriage sort, and friendships. It doesn't have the depth of So Happy Together but is also quite good - I would say it falls somewhere between the previous two books above, and the three below.

The following are all reasonably well written, but lack anything for the mind to feed on.  They lack depth of plot and character, and, should be saved for those days when you need something easy and non-challenging  for a day in bed with a cold or a tummy bug.
Dune Road by Jane Green
The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick
Artistic Licence by Katie Fforde

Non-fiction

Four Seasons with a Grumpy Goat by Carol Altman 
As someone who lives on a life sentence style block, I like reading about other people's experiences as they live in a similar way but in different places. This book had the added interest of being set in Tasmania, where my oldest son's partner grew up.  Carol and her partner moved from Adelaide to Neika, 18 kilometres south of Hobart. Carol is a journalist, and so although I didn't learn lots of tips for country living, it is well written and fun to read. It would be a good read for anyone considering a move to the country, as it covers the first year of their life there, with salutatory tales, many of which apply where ever you plan to settle.  An enjoyable read in front of a winter fire.

Backyard Bounty by Janet Luke
Janet, her husband and three sons moved from Auckland to Havelock North to a house on a suburban section - but it is not like the usual section! She grows her own food, and after about five years living there she made a New Year's resolution that, for four months, they should eat only what she grew, or could barter for with food she grew. This book is about that four months, and also about her food growing, particularly her animals. She has the usual family cat and dog, but also food animals: hens, quail, rabbits, dairy goats, a worm farm and bees. Having met Janet, and been impressed with her energy I was interested to read more about her, and would recommend this as a good read for anyone wanting to become more self-sufficient in food. I like that at the end of each chapter there is a link to YouTube clips - and if you are lucky enough to have a new phone or tablet with the right apps, you don't even have to type the link in, you can just show the little square thingie, which I am sure has a name of its own, to you phone / tablet and watch away.
The one thing I didn't like was that she self-published, and there are typos, grammatical errors, misplaced apostrophes, and a stylistic awkwardness, all of which would have been easily corrected by a good editor. It isn't too horrific in this aspect, but it annoyed me because to some extent it spoiled an otherwise interesting book.



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