I am definitely not disciplined enough to write a comprehensive review of each book I read, so I thought a brief and semi-regular post about my most recent reads could be the ticket. Below are some musing on three books I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed over the last few months: The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, Burial Rites, and The Bronze Horseman.
The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, Joël Dicker I’ve inherited from my mother a love of a good murder mystery, the grizzlier the better truth be told (thanks mum). This one was a recommendation by the lovely Ruth from A Model Recommends, and it didn’t disappoint. Struggling with his second novel, author Marcus Goldman travels to Somerset New Hampshire to stay with his former writing teacher Harry Quebert, where he stumbles across a sordid secret from Harry’s past – in his thirties he had an affair with a 15 year-old girl, whose subsequent disappearance scandalised the small town. Cue to present day, and the body of the very same girl is found buried in the grounds of Goose Cove, Harry’s secluded seaside home, which is described to perfection by Dicker and makes a perfect backdrop for the unfolding murder mystery. Through flashbacks, diary entries, and his own investigation, Marcus slowly starts to unravel the truth behind the decades-old mystery and the secret life of Harry Quebert, who I think should be played by Stephen Fry if they ever make a movie out of this (which I hear the Howard/Grazer dream team are planning on doing). I know he’s unsuitably British, but he’d be prefect otherwise right?
Burial Rites, Hannah Kent I had heard good things about this one in the Australian press, and seeing it pop up on booksandquills 2015 To Read List sealed the deal. The first thing I will say about this book is, it is bleak. Set in Iceland in the 1800s, it’s based on the true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, a woman convicted of murdering her lover and his friend and sentenced to death by beheading. I told you I like them grizzly. While the particulars of her execution are ironed out, Agnes is sent to work on the farm of District Officer Jon Jonsson, his tough-as-nails wife Margret, and their two daughters – understandably reluctant hosts to a convicted murderess feared by all in the land. As Agnes confides in a young priest tasked with absolving her in her final days, the truth about what really happened on the night of the murders starts to emerge, and before you know it, you’re kind of hoping this crazed young killer with an excellent work ethic is shown some mercy. The unforgivably brutal Icelandic backdrop absolutely drives the story, making Agnes’s desperate plight all the more grim. I can’t wait to see how this interpreted in the film adaptation, which is already in the works with Jennifer Lawrence tipped to play Agnes.
The Bronze Horseman, Paullina Simons Generally I’m not one for books that fall into the romance category (see above), but recently I attended the launch of Zoë Foster Blake’s latest novel, where she mentioned that her story had been inspired by this one. I knew then and there I had to give it a whirl. The book centers on Tatiana Metanova and her sister Dasha, living with their family in a tiny apartment in Leningrad during WWII. Enter dashing young soldier Alexander, and you have yourself a pretty epic love triangle. Paullina Simons is the queen of descriptive prose – when Tatiana first meets Alexander, you can picture the red rose-print dress she was wearing, taste the ice cream she was eating, feel the high-heeled sandals that were hurting her feet, and as clichéd as it is, you can feel the underlying fear of a city at war and a future full of uncertainty. I really enjoyed this one – it’s grim, heartbreaking, very very soppy, and I positively devoured the next two books in the trilogy – Tatiana and Alexander and The Summer Garden. Followed immediately by Six Days In Leningrad, the author’s personal memoir describing a trip back to her homeland to research the series. As a running theme, The Bronze Horseman is also coming to a cinema near you in the future, however no casting has been announced as yet – any thoughts on who should play Tatiana and Alexander?
My list of books to-read-next is a long one, but the below four are sitting pretty at the top. What’s on your list?
Funny Girl, Nick Hornby
Station Eleven, Emily St John Michel
The Miniaturist, Jess Burton
The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton