No matter what’s happening in your life, or the world, you can always turn to a good book for comfort or inspiration. I always find time in my day to read. It’s the last thing I do before bed, and it’s no exaggeration to say I’d be lost without it.
Here’s all my latest book reviews and recommendations:
The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O’Brien
Edna O’Brien’s trilogy of Country Girls novels (The Country Girls, The Lonely Girl and Girls in their Married Bliss) tells the story of two Irish girls in 1950s Ireland and beyond. They caused quite a stir when they were first published (and banned) in the 1960s. We follow Baba and Caithleen as they discover the weakness of men, the cruel compromises of motherhood and the lasting bonds of their unconventional friendship. The prose is stark, bleak and sometimes comic – much like the strict Catholic convent school both girls attend, and the eccentric boarding houses of London and Dublin they encounter as young women. Every woman should read these books!
Diary of a Somebody by Brian Bilston
Meet Brian: hopeless case and poet for the Twitter age. His wife has left him for a motivational life coach, his son despairs of his flakiness and even his cat walks all over him. This, his diary, charts his loneliness and missed opportunities over the course of the year – from a faltering love affair, a toe-curling poetry group and a keen interest in the neighbour’s bin bags. An amusing read with the best literary evocation of cat I’ve read in a long time. My only criticism is that it was a little too long and I was beginning to lose interest towards the end (sorry, Brian). If you like Charles Pooter (Diary of a Nobody) or Adrian Mole, then this is for you.
Perfect Love by Elizabeth Buchan
I picked this book up in the charity shop on a whim and thoroughly enjoyed it. Prue Valour got married young to a man twenty years her senior and has always been the ‘good’ housewife. She’s used to putting other people first – her daughter, her husband and her demanding step-daughter – but cracks are starting to appear in her perfectly ordered life. Soon, Prue’s world is shifting dangerously on its axis and things will never be quite the same. I’ve got to admit that it’s very dated. It was written in the 90s and now almost feels like a period piece – with nice middle class village life and silly stereotypes a-plenty. If you can over that (and you might not want to) it’s a good read. It’s out of print, but there are plenty of copies on Abebooks or you can download it on a kindle.
All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison
This beautifully dark novel is set in rural England in the 1930s. Edie is a naive fourteen-year-old, living an isolated and sheltered existence on the family’s farm. One year, a stranger from London turns up. Constance FitzAllen is writing a column on country folklaw and customs – ruffling more than a few feathers along the way. Over one hot summer, Edie becomes swept up events she doesn’t fully understand and there are devastating consequences. In scenes reminiscent of both The Go-Between and Atonement, we see the confusing adult world through Edie’s eyes. Her life will never be the same again, and it’s painful and rather horrible to experience. Not exactly a barrel of laughs but it’s certainly a compelling read, especially if you enjoy reading about the countryside.