My Latest Reads

I love any book which has me wondering: “What would I do?” It goes without saying, therefore, that I loved The Light Between Oceans which held my attention from start to finish. If I were being picky, then I might indeed argue that it is only the setting - on a remote lighthouse - that makes the turn of events at all possible. Such was the lure of the storytelling that I found it easy to suspend disbelief. 

 

This is the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who make a momentous decision, borne out of unbearable heartbreak, which devastates the life of another - and eventually their own lives. War hero Tom Sherbourne, the lighthouse keeper, will be tortured by the decision he takes for the sake of his beloved wife, Izzy, especially when he sees the impact on others. He is at the same time both complex and simple, the character with whom the reader most identifies. As he tries to put matters right, everything goes from bad to worse and it looks as if he will lose everything. 

 

It was difficult to predict how the story would end, how justice would be done, and if and how Tom and Izzy would find any kind of peace. Not everyone will have liked the conclusion but I found it sad and somehow satisfying. 

 

Another debut novel - another good read. Tissues at the ready, though!

 

This book was one of Mr B’s Christmas presents and - much as I love Only Fools and Horses - I think it’s fair to say that Mr B was looking forward to listening to it rather more than I was looking forward to reading it aloud to him. How wrong could I be?

 

I thought it would be one of those celebrity reads, mostly regurgitating anecdotes I had heard before from TV interviews and magazine articles. Only Fools and Stories was much more than that, and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

 

I loved hearing how much input David Jason had into forming the personalities of the characters he played - from Del Boy, to Pop Larkin, to DI Jack Frost - through important decisions on clothes, hair styles, voice, body language, even accessories. “I quickly got to the point with Del where it was as though I had a switch and I could flick him on and off ….of course you can only do it when you’re absolutely sure you know who that person is, when they’re coming from a place inside you. With Del, I knew.”

 

Jason was lucky that the writers, producers and directors he worked with were happy - keen, even - to have his input into scripts and settings: “Every show I’ve been in, I’ve considered it my duty to find things I can add or invent to get a bigger laugh”. He was also fortunate, indeed, to be working with a writer of the genius of John Sullivan, a fact he acknowledges with enormous affection  and great regret at John’s too early death: “he was a supreme improviser, an utterly brilliant solver of problems that arose along the way.” One of those problems was writing into the script the death of Grandad after the sudden death of Lennard Pearce: Jason reminds us of Del’s heartfelt torrent of words, answering brother Rodney’s accusation that he had got over Grandad’s death too quickly. That speech, says Jason, is among the most poignant John wrote for him. Reading the speech aloud, with a lump in my throat, I couldn’t help but agree. 

 

When developing the character of Jack, in A Touch Of Frost, Jason recounts the wise words of script writer Richard Harris pointing out the great truth of detective series which is that, essentially, there are no new plots, after all this time; the variable is the detective. Jason thereupon set out to construct Frost’s character, quite a departure from Del Boy. 

 

My only (minor) quibble is the rather annoying way Jason keeps drawing attention to the fact that his previous book, an autobiography, is still available in bookshops. Though, to be honest, after enjoying Only Fools and Stories, I may just be paying a visit to W H Smith…

This book was among my Christmas presents so I couldn’t wait to read it. I loved the whole idea of the story - how an elderly man, over the course of many years, had collected lost items, carefully labelling the date, time and place of each find. A glove, a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, a white umbrella decorated with red hearts - what was the story behind each “lost thing?” On his death he bequeathed his house and all his possessions to his young assistant, on the understanding that she would make it her business to return as much of the lost property as possible to its rightful owners. 

 

Having two separate but eventually intertwined casts of characters - Eunice and Bomber in the 70s, Anthony (the Keeper of the title) and Laura in the present - seemed a little contrived and potentially confusing. I found it difficult to like the character of Laura over much and the relationship between her and Anthony was nowhere near as poignant as that between the more likeable Eunice and Bomber. But the introduction to the story of innocent Sunshine with her startling understanding about the origin of the lost things was inspired and beautifully drawn. 

 

I think I would have liked to hear more of the stories behind the “lost things” - possibly this is what I expected from the book’s title so I’d set myself up for disappointment. It is author Ruth Hogan’s first book and the inclusion of some of the humorous scenes seemed a little out of place, as if she had been determined not to miss out any of her ideas, cramming them all into this one book. Then I heard that she wrote the book while having treatment for cancer which might well provide a very understandable explanation.

 

This is a light and entertaining read which (though this is only my opinion - it has enjoyed rave reviews from others) promised rather more than it delivered.

The hero of this book, the Alex Woods of the title, suffers brain damage at the age of ten when a meteorite bursts through the roof of the house he shares with his clairvoyant single mother. I mean, could there really be a more unlikely back story than that? 

 

Author Gavin Extence’s first novel is reminiscent in some ways of The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time in the unpredictability of its hero and his outlook on the world. It’s the tale of the unlikely friendship between Alex and the reclusive Mr Peterson, the bonds they cement through the establishment of a somewhat specialist Book Group and a momentous life and death decision the boy has to make for his friend. 

 

Alex is hugely likeable, particularly in his approach to the calamity which befell him at such a young age - which he sees as forming the person he is. Without the meteorite, he ponders, he would be a completely different character because his brain would function differently. Despite the   epileptic fits, the bullying he encounters, he steadfastly continues to believe that the meteorite strike has changed his life for the better.

 

I loved the first meeting between Alex and Mr Peterson - Alex is hiding in the old man’s shed from the school bullies pursuing him when he sees a silhouette in the doorway: “It was a man. There was a man looming in the doorway and he was pointing at me with a stick - a long, cylindrical stick. It gleamed dully in the darkness. My heart jumped into my mouth. The man was pointing a gun at me.” So ends Chapter 7. Chapter 8 sets the record straight:

 

“The gun resolved itself into what it had been all along. Three feet of lightweight aluminium, grey plastic handle. A crutch.” 

 

As Alex muses: “Fear distorts the world. Fear sees demons where only shadows dwell. This was the lesson I’d eventually learn.”

 

The book is full of such unexpected encounters, some funny, some tragic - Alex battles the Universe and somehow emerges to tell the tale and the lessons learned in his own inimitable way. 

 

Definitely a recommended read.

Last year was a difficult one for me as far as reading was concerned. For a book-lover like me, it was so very sad not to be able to curl up with a good book whenever I wished. Three eye operations later (after all, why have one eye operation when you could have three?) I can now see clearly again - so I’ve started a new webpage to record “Books I Have Read 2018”. I hope other book-lovers will enjoy it - and will feel free to agree, or disagree, with my opinions. Happy reading!

Latest comments

13.11 | 09:24

As I rapidly approach retirement I'm glad I just read this. Sound words!

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25.09 | 13:00

Yo

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25.09 | 12:59

Not helpful at all was trying to teach my daughter how to do it and was dreadful

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12.08 | 09:53

Very nice, really i appreciate....well done.

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