I Let You Go, by Clare Macintosh, is totally silly and totally fun and I listened to it on audiobook and then book an ebook version for the cottage because I can read faster than anyone can read to me, and I wanted to know! what! happens! next!
Oh I get it, it’s plenty flawed with damsels in distress, and deceit, and assumptions about women-and-work. But it’s still… so fun. Like when Patrick-the-vet gets introduced as a character and his blond hair is waving in the wind and sun dappled skin is glowing, you’re just like… romance!
I’d caution ever reading this with expectations to think deeply about anything. And strong warnings about descriptions of domestic violence and the death of children that are difficult and could easily make the book one you’d rather skip.
That said, if you do choose it, I’d hazard a guess you stay up late to finish it because It Has All the Plot! Plot! Plot!
I loved Aravind Adiga’s first novel, White Tiger, and so I was eager to read Selection Day. It was just okay. Following a father and two sons in the slums of Mumbai as the father abuses them in his efforts to secure them a place on the Indian cricket team, and with that spot, a new life. I don’t care very much about cricket, and I didn’t care very much about these characters, so it was a stretch to make it to the end. I was carried along by the relationship between the youngest son, Manju, and his friend-competitor-would-be-lover, Javed. I wondered and wanted Manju to figure out what *he* wanted for his life (I guess I want the same for my own) and struggled with the resolution to this question as it felt… disappointing. Not in a narrative way, it makes narrative good sense, but because of the lost potential. Mourning possibility and all that. In those painful moments of life where it’s abundantly clear you are making a Big Decision, how do you know you’re making the right one, until decades later when the regret has found its way to you?
Everyone is reading Where the Crawdads Sing. Like over a hundred person waiting list at the library so I decided to buy it kind of everyone. And I’m glad I did. It was a perfect cottage read, even with a couple of flaws that prevent it from being great or an unqualified go-read-it-now.
Set in the lagoon-swamp of the Carolina coast, the novel opens with a dead body (always an exciting hook) and then moves decades back in time to follow Kya, or ‘Marsh Girl,’ an abandoned child who raises herself amid the wilderness. Pulling at all the appeal that comes with person-versus-nature stories, Kya, must finds ways to both maintain her physical life through trading food and scraping up materials, as well as develop some kind of emotional-social life through relationship with animals and the natural sphere, while also courting – as much as she can – connections with people in the neighbouring town. Even while she always – and deeply – fears that everyone will always leave her. The propulsion of the plot is both in rooting for Kya and some kind of resolution to her absolute loneliness, but more in the understanding of her connection to the dead body, Chase Something-Maybe-Andrews(?) and an explanation of the crime.
Where the novel does incredibly well is in the vivid description of setting and place. Kya’s lagoon and her connection to the natural world is at once detailed and lively – the reader readily accepts along with Kya the magic of the land and its tenuous preservation amid efforts to develop it. No surprise, perhaps, as author Delia Owens was first a non-fiction nature and science writer. It also does well in the characterization of Kya, who we come to know intimately – in part because we feel through the third person limited narration, paired with her total isolation, that we are the only ones to truly know her.
*MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD* Continue reading
People. I have been reading. A lot! And not posting. I don’t know why. Must be something about the summer night and just wanting to read more on the patio. Whatever the reason, I’ve read a bunch of things and I’m too overwhelmed by the backlog and I’m headed out on holiday in a couple of days, so I’m only going to read more, so the only thing to do is plea for an amnesty, and just tell you the things I’ve read/try to remember the things I’ve read:
This Is Where I Leave You – Jonathan Tropper: I remember it was about a dysfunctional family gathered to sit shiva after their dad dies. And it was funny. And sort of silly, but mostly funny. Oh and about divorce and life falling apart. And like my life is mostly together but I could relate. Beach worthy? Maybe.
The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears – Dinaw Mengestu: Ethiopian refugee to Washington meets a fancy white lady and her kid. There’s something like a romance, but the whole novel is weighted with the certainty that none of this is going to work out, and it’s a protracted ending and you’re like does he kill himself in the end or try again or does it matter. Super… uplifting? No.
Big Sky – Kate Atkinson: Mystery! By one of my more preferred authors. But it was only okay. Like I didn’t really care much about any of the characters, which is surprising because there’s enough detail and slowed down timelines that I should, but maybe it was because this is one of a series and it was my first one so I was missing the part of caring about the detective? Anyway. Just, meh,
I think there was one more. It had a red cover. But it’s lost to me and the world now. I’ll do better while I’m on holiday. Really! Maybe. Mostly forgive this terrible post. Remember those other ones where I had smart, funny things to say. Right? Maybe.