‘My Name is Leon’ by Kit de Waal is a story about two young children, mixed race eight-year-old Leon and his white half-brother Jake, who are taken into care in the early 1980s after their mother Carol develops serious mental health issues. While Jake is quickly adopted by another family, Leon stays behind with experienced foster carer Maureen and struggles to cope with being separated from his baby brother. When Maureen becomes unwell, he is taken in by her sister Sylvia and starts spending time with Tufty at the allotment but remains determined to find a way to be reunited with Jake and Carol. Continue reading
I was intrigued by Professor John Sutherland’s recommendation of ‘The Appearance of Murder’ by John Nightingale in his books of the year round-up in The Times last Christmas in which he described it as “the most teasingly pleasurable crime mystery novel I’ve come across this year”. It tells the story of crime fiction author David Knight who is trying to finish his latest novel but gets caught up in a mystery from his own past. A young woman named Perdita unexpectedly turns up at his house with an old photograph of five Cambridge undergraduates including David himself and a musician named Mark Ryland who died in mysterious circumstances. She believes that one of the five men in the picture is her father but doesn’t know which one. However, following an accident during a hockey game twenty-five years ago, David’s memory of that particular period of his life is decidedly sketchy, which somewhat restricts his ability to unravel the mystery of what happened to his university contemporaries all those years ago. Continue reading
I have been to a number of individual literary events in London over the last few years but until this weekend, I had never been to one of the many book festivals held in the capital each year. Now in its eighth year, Chiswick Book Festival in west London runs from Thursday 15th – Monday 19th September with talks from a wide variety of authors and other speakers. Armed with an all-day pass, I went to four events at St Michael and All Angels Church and the Tabard Theatre yesterday.
‘The Tidal Zone’ by Sarah Moss tells the story of Adam Goldschmidt, a stay-at-home dad and part-time academic, married to overworked GP Emma. Their eldest daughter fifteen-year-old Miriam suddenly collapses on a school playing field and nearly dies after going into anaphylactic cardiac arrest. In the aftermath of the incident, the family must find a way to move on and return to some form of normality whilst coming to terms with the possibility that Miriam’s condition could be genetic and may happen again at any time. Continue reading
Longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, ‘Serious Sweet’ by A. L. Kennedy is set over the course of twenty-four hours in London in 2014, following a day in the lives of 45-year-old recovering alcoholic Meg Williams and 59-year-old divorced senior civil servant Jon Sigurdsson. At first, the characters appear to lead seemingly separate lives but it is gradually revealed that their paths have already crossed before. The day revolves around the pair attempting to meet and whether they are able to move on from the traumatic events which have shaped their lives. Continue reading
1. I read more books than I used to. This must be something that pretty much every book blogger can identify with. Even though blogging itself takes up a lot of time, it’s pretty hard not to start reading more when following other blogs leads to so many new sources of book recommendations. However, I also know my limits and reading during my commute to work and sticking consistently to one or two blog posts a week feels achievable and has helped me avoid both reading and blogging burnout.
2. I read more new books than I used to. This is partly a consequence of receiving review copies from publishers but following other bloggers with similar reading tastes and literary award longlists means I often seek out copies of newly published books from other sources too.
3. My reading tastes have diversified a lot in terms of genre. As well as newer books, I have been reading more non-fiction and translated fiction and I don’t think I would have made so many new discoveries if I didn’t run a blog.
‘This Must Be The Place’ by Maggie O’Farrell tells the story of Daniel Sullivan, an American linguistics professor living in a remote farmhouse in Donegal with his reclusive ex-film star wife Claudette, their two children and Claudette’s son from a previous relationship. When Daniel learns that an ex-girlfriend died shortly after they split up in the 1980s, he sets out to discover what happened to her all those years ago, even if it risks destroying his struggling marriage. Continue reading