Friday, January 30, 2015

Perfect by Rachel Joyce

Hardback: 361 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday 2013
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: In 1972, two seconds were added to time. Britain agreed to join the Common Market and 'Beg, Steal or Borrow' by the New Seekers was the entry for Eurovision.
Review Quote: "A near-flawless novel of emotional truth. Joyce executes this story with precision and flair... Its unputdownable factor lies in its exploration of so many multilayered emotions... It is her clever did-I-read-that-right twist at the end that really got to me and had me scrabbling back through the chapters, open-mouthed." (Evening Standard)
Favourite Quote: “That's what nobody realizes. Two seconds are huge. It's the difference between something happening and something not happening. You could take one step too many and fall over the edge of a cliff. It's very dangerous.” 
My Opinion: A beguiling read.

Whilst researching for an author profile of  Rachel Joyce recently I discovered that the character of Byron, the protagonist of 'Perfect' has been in her thoughts for much longer than her previous novel 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' With this information in mind I decided that despite not having read the earlier novel, I know how did I miss out on it,  I would go ahead and read 'Perfect' first.  Rachel Joyce tells us in a letter on her website that  ' The idea about the cost of perfection and an idea that changes everything, as well as the central characters, has been loitering in my head for many years.' 

Perfect scene setting draws one in immediately, a hot English July day in a country garden where the air is heavy with the scent of flowers.  The story revolves around the female protagonist Diana, the fragile middle class wife that is in an unhappy marriage. Her husband is a control freak, even managing to rule her life when he is away in the city working all week. One summer day in 1972 two seconds are added to time and it is this that causes, dramatic life changes for the family 
with poignant consequences. Her son Byron was terrified by the addition of those seconds, thanks to a vivid imagination and what happened that day. With a friend he seeks to try and find out what really happened, but is he successful. 
Jump on forty years to the present day and we meet Jim, a discharged psychiatric patient who finds life out side an institutional setting over whelming. Just how these two stories link up and provide the reader with a beguiling read I leave you to discover for yourself.

Having enjoyed the writing style of this author I will look out for any future novels she writes and have of course added 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to my wishlist. Do not be misled by the title 'Perfect' which does create in one's mind something completely different to the tragic story that unfolds in this novel which I highly recommend to all lovers of literary fiction.

Author Profile

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestseller The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Perfect published in July 2013. She was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards 'New Writer of the Year' in December 2012.
Joyce has also written over 20 original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, and major adaptations for both the Classic Series, Woman's Hour and also a TV drama adaptation for BBC 2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for best radio play.
She moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court, and Cheek by Jowl, winning a Time Out Best Actress award and the Sony Silver.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Goodreads - Author Profile     Amazon Author Profile   Rachel Joyce - Official Website

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Heroes' Welcome by Louisa Young

Hardback: 260 pages
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Publisher: The Borough Press, Harper Collins Imprint. 2014
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: Riley Purefoy did not think very much about the war. He didn't have to. It was part of him. 
Review Quote: ‘Powerful, sometimes shocking, boldly conceived, it fixes on war’s lingering trauma to show how people adapt – or not – and is irradiated by anger and pity’ The Sunday Times
My Opinion:  A moving account of the after effects of the First World War.

The latest choice for a book club I belong to Louisa Young is an author I had not come across before, so I had no idea that 'The Heroes Welcome' is a sequel to 'My Dear, I Wanted To Tell You'  Had I perhaps known this beforehand I would have made the effort to read this first, as I do feel it would have given me more insight into the background of the main characters who all appeared in the first novel.  'The Heroes Welcome' does however stand alone as a moving account of the after effects of the First World War. 

The story is indeed a very depressing one as it follows the attempts of the main characters Nadine, Riley, Julia, Peter and Rose to come to terms with all that they have suffered. Starting on a happy note, it is the Spring of April 1919 and Nadine Waverney marries her long-time sweetheart Riley Purefoy. Riley is badly disfigured due to a wartime wound and feels that his relationship with Nadine has changed from one of passion and deep love to one of pity and dependency.  The character of Peter Locke, formerly Riley's commanding officer, now his friend is struggling to readjust to family life with his overwrought wife Julia and young son at the family home in the Kent countryside. The other main protagonist is Rose Locke, a cousin of Peter's who just happened to nurse Riley after his injury. All of them have been damaged by the Great War and this novel is an evocative account of their trials and tribulations. 

A moving account of the after effects of the First World War on a group of friends. Well written this novel will appeal to those that have read the prequel and want to find out what happened to everyone. Also anyone that is interested in the psychological effects of war on not only those that fought but those left behind as well.

Author Profile

Louisa was born in London, England. Her father was the politician and writer Wayland Young, Lord Kennet. Her mother is Elizabeth Young, Lady Kennet. She has several siblings, including the sculptor Emily YoungShe was educated at Hallfield Primary School, Paddington; St Paul's Girls' SchoolWestminster School; and Trinity College Cambridge. She was for many years a freelance journalist, working mostly for the Motorcycle Press, Marie Claire and The Guardian. She has travelled widely and published ten books. She lives in London and Italy with her daughter (born 1993). She is also the author of the best-selling Lionboy trilogy, with her daughter Isabel Adomakoh Young. She was engaged to the composer  Robert Lockhart when he died in January 2012.

If you are interested in more biographical detail Louisa has written a great profile on her Official Website

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Amazon Profile - Louisa Young     Author - Official Website    Wikipedia - Louisa Young 

 Twitter Profile    Louisa Young - Facebook Profile

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Threshing Circle by Neil Grimmett


eBook:  1501 KB
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Grimpen Publications (19 Feb 2014)
Source: Loaned from Amazon as part of my Amazon Prime Membership.
First Sentence: Kapetanios Michaelis crept through the village, blending with shadows, listening to sleepers snoring, dreamers murmuring, another young widow weeping.
Favourite Quote: 'They're like the pieces in a mosaicuntil they're all set in place,there's no clear picture.'

My Opinion:  Tangled and absorbing tale of revenge.

This novel is well outside my normal preferred genres, but I do like to step outside my comfort zone from time to time. In fact I do read thrillers but normally psychological ones. How shall I describe this thriller, well it is very intense with evil bloody scenes and sexual violence, you have been warned. Everything the author has written is relevant to the storyline though as this complex mystery is set in Crete, a country that has a long history of occupation by other nations. It is this history that fuels the tradition of vendettas that last for generations. One such family feud is at the root of this tangled and absorbing tale of revenge.

 In May 1942 during WWII a dreadful crime was committed on the island of Crete and sixty years later  a young couple arrive on the island determined to find out what really happened all those years ago. The problem is they disappear, local Scottish ex-pat Kirsty and local Barba Yiorgos form an unlikely alliance in a hazardous attempt to find them. Their search is full of danger, mysterious happenings and fascinating and evil characters. Romantic myths and violence abound before some choices have to be made if this mystery has a chance of coming to a satisfactory conclusion. Immerse yourself in this powerful mystery if you want to learn what happened, in the wilds of Crete. 

Set in a beautiful location, with a mystery that will hold your attention right to the final pages I recommend this to any one that enjoys a well written and intense thriller.

Author Profile

Neil Grimmett was born in Birmingham and after having travelled extensively in Greece and Spain now lives in Somerset with his wife Lisa. the Threshing Circle is his first full length novel to be published. He has had over eighty five short stories published, by among others: London Magazine, Stand, Panurge, Iron, Ambit, Postscripts Magazine, Pretext etc. Australia, Quadrant, South Africa, New Contrast. Plus stories in the leading journals of Singapore, India, France, Canada, and the USA, where he has appeared in Fiction, The Yale Review, DoubleTake, The southern Humanities Review, Green Mountains Review, Descant, The Southern Review, West Branch and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. He has appeared online in Blackbird, Plum Ruby Review, Tatlin's Tower, Web Del Sol, In Posse Review, m.a.g., Word Riot, Blue Moon Review, 3AM, Gangway, Eclectica, The Cortland Review, Segue, The Dublin Quarterly , Ducts, Sugar Mule, Mysterical E, Thuglit and over thirty others. His stories have also appeared in the anthologies: ENGLAND CALLING, BOOK OF VOICES and Italy’s ISBN’s Top International Stories. He has made the storySouth Million Writers Notable Short Story list for the last three years. In addition, he has won the Write On poetry award, 7 Oppenheim John Downes Awards, 5 major British Arts Council Awards, a Royal Society of Authors award and was just awarded a major grant from the Royal Literary Fund.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and his writing.

Goodreads - Author Profile     Neil Grimmett - Twitter   Author's Official Website   

 Neil Grimmett - Amazon Author Profile