Thursday, 14 October 2010

First impressions can be deceptive!

My two new recommendations are books that I wouldn't have normally picked up myself but that I ended up enjoying a lot.

First up is A Special Relationship - by Douglas Kennedy. It tells the story of Sally Goodchild, an American who falls in love with British fellow journalist Tony Hobbs. She gets pregnant, they marry and, taking advantage of her post-natal depression, he takes their baby away from her soon after his birth. Battle ensues. Now, I thought: how can a male author successfully narrate this story from the female point of view? I was sceptical. After reading the book I still don't know how he has done it but I do know that it is possible.

My second recommendation is Save Karyn - by Karyn Bosnak. A young woman moves to New York for work and - shop after shop, beauty salon after beauty salon - ends up owing lots of money to lots of people. Not seeing a way out, she builds a website telling her story and asking people to contribute to her salvation. She does it out of sheer desperation, not really believing that people would give anyone anything without a personal return. The result: many offensive letters and, surprisingly, a little money from a lot of people. Not just a book about a person useless with money, rather a true story to teach you that there are still good people around.

Book review: Room

By Emma Donoghue
Published by
Picador

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010, Room is a book that, regardless of any literary prize, will be remembered for a long time.

Little Jack and his Ma live in Room with Wardrobe, Rug and other various objects-cum-friends. They spend their time playing, singing, reading, exercising and watching a little television. At night, the person they named Old Nick comes to visit Ma and Jack goes to sleep in Wardrobe. Jack likes his world with the exception of those days when Ma doesn’t move from the bed, when she is “gone”.

Ma has also another name but Jack doesn’t know it. He is going to find it out soon though because Ma decided that she doesn’t want to live in Room anymore. She wants to live in Outside. Jack is not sure. There is Room and then there are the people in television. Now his Ma his saying that the things they see in television are real and he doesn’t really understand that. But he will have to. Soon.

Room makes you smile even when you almost want to cry. The boundaries between sadness and happiness are blurred. Horror and hope co-exist. It is one of those books that you will find yourself coming back to again and again.

Book Review: The Prince of Mist

By Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Translated from the Spanish by Lucia Graves
Published by
Orion Books

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, better known as the author of The Shadow of the Wind, is the pen behind The Prince of Mist, a 1993 mystery and horror novel that earned him the Edebé literary prize in the young adult fiction category. Labelling it as a YA book only, however, would be a great mistake.

The story follows Max Carver and his family to a small coastal town that, at least during the war, will be their home. Following their arrival at the station, Max, his two sisters and his parents are met by what can only be described as dark forces. A clock moves backwards, a cat coldly observes them. Is it just Max’s fervid imagination? The answer becomes more evident as more discoveries are made. The house that the Carvers moved into holds many secrets, as does the old lighthouse keeper.

In Zafón’s typical style, this book grabs the reader’s attention from the very first page and never lets it go. One could complain that the compact format of this narrative leaves many questions unanswered but this could also be considered the beauty of this little gem.