There is nothing better than snuggling up in bed with a book during the winter months. This winter I’ve been making my way through a hefty pile of books stacked on my nightstand. So here are some short book reviews on my favs from the last two months.
+ Grief is the thing with feathers by Max Porter
I really enjoyed Grief is the thing with feathers. It’s a small but moving book about a father and his two young sons as they deal with the sudden death of their wife and mother. Then there is Crow who comes to help them deal with their loss.
It is a prose novel but the language is really poetic. In fact the father in the story is actually a Ted Hughes scholar and this book can be read alongside Ted Hughes’ collection of poetry- The Crow.
I read it across one evening and one commute but it’s so short you could probably be read in an hour, I wanted to take my time though. I normally read longer novels so this felt refreshing and made me want to seek out shorter books and more poetry. The writing is so good, every word is chosen perfectly, nothing is wasted and it’s a really sad but affirming story.
+ The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild
I really enjoyed this book and I think it would make an excellent holiday read. The book opens as a handful of the world’s richest are gathering for the auction of a famous painting that has recently been uncovered. After that we are taking back to the moment where the painting is inadvertently discovered, we read through the events that ensue and finally come back to the auction.
This book is extremely plot driven and told from the view point of many different characters, even the painting narrates some of the chapters. While this means that the characters are not particularly well developed, to me that doesn’t matter as the story is really engaging and fun.
+ The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
The Narrow Road to the deep north tells the story of Dorrigo Evans, a celebrated war veteran. In this book he reflects back on his youth, love affairs and his time in a prisoner of war camp during WWII where he was the camp doctor treating prisoners who were used to build the infamous Burma Railway.
It was difficult to read about how the Prisoners were reduced to skin and bone, left to rot in filth and disease while being forced to carry out physically demanding work everyday. I found this book immensely sad. Although this is a work of fiction, many of these brutal acts actually happened which makes this story all the more tragic.
Some of the language and the imagery in this book is beautiful but it wasn’t always an enjoyable read. I think it is an important read though. I find so much of WWII literature is focused the events that took place in Europe so it was interesting to read about the conflict from an antipodean perspective. Thanks Nick Is Always On Holidays for the recommendation.
+ NW by Zadie Smith
NW is a novel set in London, specifically North West London and centres around four characters who grew up in a housing estate there. While they all started from similar humble beginnings, they all took quite different parts in life. Those paths end up intertwined in this book.
While this is undeniably a good book I’m actually have mixed feelings toward it. Parts of it I really enjoyed, but then parts didn’t interest me at all. What I do like is that Zadie Smith plays with structure and sentences. Each of the sections is told from a different view point and the style of the section is changed according to the narrative.
Her writing is different and interesting, some sentences I reread just because they read so nicely. Her characters are excellent too, so believable. Even if I didn’t really identify with them I empathised with them. But then I would read passages that would bore me. So on the whole while I can appreciate that it is a good book, it wouldn’t be a favourite for me.
So that’s that, I have a lot more books on my nightstand to get to but as usual I’m always up for recommendations…