Tag Archives: Family drama

Three shorter reviews

look at me

Trading Futures by Jim Powell Matthew Oxenhay is having an existential crisis. He set his hippy ideals behind him long ago, swapping them for a career in the city, wife, kids, nice house in a nice London suburb. Then it was his 60th birthday, and shortly afterwards he lost his job, but his boss let him keep coming to work… Read more »

5 Characters in Search of a Theme Song

Love, Love Me Do by Mark Haysom Looking at the title and cover of this book, I was expecting something light-hearted, a little bit sixties rock’n’roll, a bit Nick Hornby-ish if you will – and involving a caravan. Well the last bit was right, less so the others. The title, that of the Beatles’ first hit single, is an anchor in… Read more »

A little London loving – 1960s style…

Georgy Girlby Margaret Forster Margaret Forster is somehow one of those familiar authors, although I’ve read any of her books.  Over the last fifteen years or so, I’ve seen several of her books in shops; The Memory Box is a title that stuck in my mind.  Although I’ve no idea how old she is, or what she looks like, I… Read more »

The other half's story …

Mr Bridge (Penguin Modern Classics) by Evan S Connell Written ten years after  his 1959 novel Mrs Bridge, Connell’s companion piece Mr Bridge tells the story of the Bridge family through the same time period from the 1930s into WWII, but from the husband’s point of view. I read and adored Mrs Bridge a couple of weeks ago (see my review here)…. Read more »

A life unfulfilled, funny but full of melancholy…

Mrs Bridge by Evan S Connell Just before Christmas, I acquired a review copy of the imminent Penguin Modern Classics reissue of Mr Bridge by Evan S Connell. I knew nothing about the book at all, but the synopsis intrigued me. Finding that Connell had previously written Mrs Bridge, and that Mr Bridge was therefore a sequel of sorts, I… Read more »

Re-reading one of my favourite books…

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx I’ve now finished my re-read of Annie Proulx’s novel The Shipping News, that I told you about a few days ago here. When I finished the book the first time, so sure was I that I’d be re-reading, and hopefully re-loving, it that I bought myself a luxury numbered edition with specially commissioned foldout… Read more »

Who is Silvia?

AnnaBookBel   January 1, 2013   No Comments on Who is Silvia?

Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French Shakespeare’s question from The Two Gentlemen of Verona is an apposite one to ask of Dawn French’s new novel, for the title character never says a word, being in a coma after a fall from a third floor balcony. Instead, Silvia’s story is told from many different points of view including her mad hippy… Read more »

One for the new year …

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice Take one big happy family; add some horses, a big country manor in Cornwall, plus doses of first love which doesn’t go easily. Shake it up and relocate to London; mix with rock’n’roll and serve with love again. This is the essential recipe for Eva Rice’s new novel, a thick and satisfying… Read more »

“Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way”

Quiet Life

A Quiet Life by Beryl Bainbridge Alan sits in a café waiting for his sister Madge, whom he hasn’t seen for fifteen years – there to discuss their late mother’s effects. Both are now in their forties, and they’re still as different as chalk and cheese. Rewind twenty-five years. It’s the 1950s; petrol is still rationed, the spectre of the… Read more »

A tale of two families at war with themselves

Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan There is a much used quote of Leo Tolstoy’s from Anna Karenina: -“All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This is particularly true to the two chronicled in this novel. Firstly we meet Meridia. Her mother Ravenna had nearly died giving birth to her, and… Read more »

Running away from country ways and city life – a family’s dilemma

The Good Parents by Joan London This accomplished novel starts off as the story of eighteen year old Maya de Jong, a girl from Western Australia who escapes the country to get a job in Melbourne. She works for Maynard Flynn, a slightly shady businessman, and it’s not long before they embark on an affair. His wife is dying of… Read more »

Complicated emotions are explored in this big novel

The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale This was the last novel I finished reading in 2009, and it was solid yet gripping, a satisfying read that explores big and complicated emotions – yet I’ve struggled in my thoughts about how to do it justice in a review. Where to start? Examining the cover gives a clue to the two strands of… Read more »

Three middle-class brothers – three family mid-life crises

The Bradshaw Variations by Rachel Cusk A year in the life of the Bradshaws – three brothers, their ageing parents and their families. Firstly, there’s middle brother Thomas who has taken a year’s sabbatical to learn the piano, his wife Tonie who has been promoted and back at work full-time, and daughter Alexa. Older brother Howard is successful and impulsive,… Read more »

Two short novels – Two complex stories

This week I passed the 100 books read this year landmark, and numbers 99 and 101 were both cracking short novels… The Beacon by Susan Hill is a claustrophobic and suspenseful family drama which leaves you wondering what you believed in the tale. It tells of four siblings, Colin, May, Frank and Berenice who were born and bred at ‘The… Read more »

A slow-burning yet rewarding novel

How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall I hugely enjoy reading all the buzz about the Booker Prize, but I normally don’t indulge in any deliberate speculative reading, preferring to pick and choose a select few short/longlisted titles after the event. Today though I can say I’m totally with it just this once, having started to read Hall’s… Read more »

Hard to grasp the plot in this confused novel

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi A few years ago, Helen Oyeyemi was hailed as one of the future stars of UK contemporary literature, having written her first novel The Icarus Girl to great acclaim whilst studying for her A-levels. Now she’s in her twenties and this is her third … There’s a lot going on in this book…. Read more »

Grim but gripping …

Once Upon a Time in England by Helen Walsh This book was totally gripping from the outset – the life experienced by the working class family within is truly grim; an unremitingly bleak existence, reinforced by a series of poor decisions and having to live with the consequences. Each time they pick themselves up, something else seems to happen to… Read more »

A three-hanky novel…

If I Stay by Gayle Forman I came to this novel knowing nothing at all about the plot other than it was a family drama; but I had read several recommendations of the book from respected sources. They all said that it was a novel best encountered fresh, that knowing would spoil the enjoyment of reading it. I concur wholeheartedly…. Read more »

A vivid dissection of middle-class life

In a Summmer Season by Elizabeth Taylor Many have told me that I should read the books of Elizabeth Taylor – an author I’d not heard of until the publication of Nicola Beauman’s recent biography The Other Elizabeth Taylor by the wonderful Persephone Books. Published in 1961, it follows one summer in the lives of a family living in the Thames… Read more »

A beautiful and quirky journey

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen This book is a thing of beauty. It stands out being an oversized hardback and invites you to pick it up and look inside … whereupon you’ll see all the intricate illustrations, sidebars and marginalia. Then reading the blurb, you’ll find out that it is the story of a 12 year… Read more »