Captivating and intense epic

THE INTERESTINGS BY MEG WOLITZER

In short, I couldn’t leave this book alone. From the first page I was drawn deeply into the world of the Interestings – perhaps even a little too much! For the week that I was reading this exhilarating novel I felt completely absorbed in its unfolding drama to the point that I lay awake worrying about some of the characters and their actions. Sad, I know!

In the summer of 1974, six talented teenagers sit together at summer camp drinking vodka, smoking weed, being ironic and vowing to always be interesting. From there we follow the lives of Jules, Jonah, Ethan, Ash, Cathy and Goodman over the next few decades as the hopes and dreams they had that summer unravel, some slowly, some spectacularly.

Envy, depression, talent, loss, disappearance and disappointment put their friendships under intense strain.

Wolitzer’s writing is as compelling as I’ve ever read. This really is a “one more chapter then bed” kind of book. It feels massive – like it tackles everything that happens in life. The themes are big, epic and sprawling but it’s the real human moments, the touching scenes that stay with you more than the major events. Continue reading

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Going on the favourites shelf

WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE? BY MARIA SEMPLE

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Ok, ready for a great big bold statement? This is one of the best novels I have read in the last decade! Maria Semple’s second novel pretty much cleaned up the Best of 2012 awards but I’d put off reading it as it came with so many heavyweight recommendations and gushing reviews that I was bound to be disappointed.

No way! This was fresh, funny storytelling with clever twists and satirical digs that I found delightfully original. Throughout the book I had no idea what was coming next and that made for a really thrilling ride.

Where’d You Go Bernadette is an epistolary story told through emails, letters, handwritten notes and FBI reports. Set in Seattle we meet Bernadette – local menace, architect genius, recluse, wife of Microsoft golden boy and pushy mother to 15 year old daughter Bee. We join Bee on a journey literally to the end of the earth to find her mother when she disappears. Continue reading

Just the (Italian) job this summer

BEAUTIFUL RUINS BY JESS WALTER

BEAUTIFUL RUINS

Italian coastline! Glamorous movie stars! Romance! Everything you need from fantastically written, modern, summer fiction can be found right here in Jess Walter’s exquisite, rich story, Beautiful Ruins. In his book he takes us to the coast of Italy and to Rome, with brief stop offs in Idaho, England and Scotland before concluding half a century later in Hollywood.

Set mostly in a remote Italian fishing port in 1962, we meet Pasquale, a young man with big dreams but only a small forgotten hotel (amusingly called The Hotel Adequate View) to show for them. A beautiful young American actress mistakenly comes to his hotel (from the movie set of Cleopatra with Burton and Taylor) to hide from the world, convinced she is dying. Fate, circumstance and a langauge barrier seek to block a promising romance between the actress and the unassuming hotellier as she faces up to the real cause of her illness and he questions everything that has gone before. From there a fabulous tale unfurls featuring flawed characters, crazy romance and scenic landscapes spanning  fifty years and two continents. Continue reading