The Monogram Murders

From her own admission Sophie Hannah would say she has not tried to mimic or replicate Agatha Christie’s style in this Hercule Poirot offering that has been blessed by Christie’s estate, and even if she had I would not be the person to tell you how it compares. This book is my maiden voyage into Agatha Christie’s tales and I can only judge it on its own merit.

Through the narration of Mr Catchpool, Poirot is described as an articulate and precise man who rises to many a challenge and forgets not even the smallest of details. Between Poirot and catchpool we get a marvellously intriguing mystery that despite their two very different styles, and possible competencies, leads to a winding mystery that had me guessing right until the end.

The story had an antiquated quality, which is relevant due to the 1920’s setting, and focuses heavily on the uncovering of faux alibis and treacherous pasts and, regardless of the purpose of the book, I now want to pick up an original Agatha Christie novel… just to see.

I’d call that work well done to a clearly very brave author.

Man at the Helm

Nina Stibbe’s debut novel follows her successful epistolary memoir, Love, Nina, and I truly believe this book should be received with the same acclaim.

Following a far from pleasant divorce, Lizzie and her siblings move out to a village with their ponies, dog (Princess Debbie Reynolds) and their play writing, whisky drinking and initially purposeless mother in tow. The fear of becoming ‘wards of court’ leads them to the need for a plan and the plan that forms is to find the most appropriate man to be ‘at the helm’ of their family.

Set in the 1970’s and told from the perspective of the middle child, Lizzie, this book is laugh out loud funny. We follow the family from wealth and village exile to poverty and begrudging acceptance in addition to the ups and downs of their mother’s dalliances with men both on and off the ‘man list’.

Although a little slow initially I did end up reading the second half in one sitting and by that point I had a real emotional attachment to this slightly mad family and their array of worries, upsets and life’s idiosyncrasies.

 

8/10

 

The Giver/ We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.

I seem to have stepped out of the habit of writing, yet again, recently. So I thought maybe today I would try and get back to that place where I think words are worth writing and maybe, just maybe, my words are worth reading.

 

The last couple of books I have read at work have been enjoyable, thought provoking and one of which I cannot believe has been around for so long that I have NEVER heard of it. Now I have read it of course it is quite literally everywhere and now there is even a film. Who am I kidding? There is always a film.

 

 

So quick run down.

 

The Giver – Lois Lowry.

A book that was recommended to me by a friend who was made to read it when she was 11 or 12 (not sure of American grades) at school. I think if I were a teacher or someone in charge of all things literary curriculum I would certainly plop this one right at the top of the list! Being written for children, it seems to simplify language yet still throw words that can only enhance vocabulary and really hits hard at the topic of our world and how devastating and yet brilliant it is. The message for me was basic. Be good. Be kind. Don’t let’s lose our individuality and real, body and heart felt feelings for the sake of wars and bloodshed that surely can be stopped. Less hate and more love.

Obviously this is a simplified opinion of the book and as always with older, more defined and set into history, books I struggle to really assess my opinion and differentiate it from all the many opinions of other’s that litter the web and general media.

I think this is more telling about me then the book itself.

 

 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler.

This is Fowler’s most recent offering to the world and it is my first reach into her writing. In hindsight it turns out I had heard of a few of her books but have never been pressed to pick any of them up before now.

I must admit that a lot of the fiction I have read this year has been down to my magpie-esque fascination with long and short lists for literary prizes, this one coming from the Man Booker Prize 2014 long list. Personally I think it was one of my better decisions.

The story of Rosemary Cooke’s life is told to us from the perspective of Rosemary herself and my, she is one of the most confused, self deprecating narrators I have read yet I found her likeable, often very funny and on a regular basis I wished I was friends with her and yet wanted to shake her furiously all within the space of ten pages. This story is engaging, is thought provoking and yet profoundly different from anything I have read in a long time.

I don’t want to give anymore details. Don’t read about this book, just read it.

I want you to have the same experience I had with this one.