Fiction Shelf #2

Nora Webster By Colm Tóibín

I loved this book. It is like no other book I’ve ever read. I wouldn’t even know what ‘category’ to pigeonhole it in to. & I like that about it too. Tóibín’s writing is delicately & precisely paced, allowing you to experience the emotions & understandings of the main character, instead of the metaphorical neon signs some books use to force you in the right direction.

Nora, the female protagonist, is one who doesn’t ‘follow the flow’ but creates her own path in life. Recently widowed, & still deeply in the grip of grief & denial, Nora seeks to remain her own person, not giving in to the necessities which she fears will place her back in the neat yet stifling little box that marriage allowed her to escape from. Nora is frustrating & yet cheer-worthy, fierce yet empathetic, & making connections with the character is easy & yet takes some cathartic rethinking.

Near the end there were, for me, a few unanswered questions, a read back through the last sections allowed me to metaphorically answer a few but not one last one; maybe we’re not meant to: & i certainly didn’t need to know the answer to ‘feel’ the book’s impact.

The North Water By Ian McGuire

[listened to 🎧]

Set aboard the unforgiving context of a gruellingly grim whaleboat, the characters play amongst scenes of a declining whale oil industry, a captain’s damaged reputation, a company conspiracy & the murderous cover-up of a heinous crime.

The story is ultimately of one man’s journey away from his past, perhaps trying to atone as he does so. Our protagonist, one Patrick Sumner, is the ship’s doctor & it is his hope & interests which keep us invested in the story, as we follow the developing storyline whilst also slowly learning of his past. & the villain, is most definitely a villain, of the most despicable order. A man who i shall attempt to forget but probably never will.

Ian McGuire is a literary realist & this book threw shades of Melville (Moby Dick), Shelley (Frankenstein) & Beckett (any of them) at me. It is highly detailed & highly descriptive & it’s lack of gimmickery, literary tropes & boring obvious plot developments is very refreshing. This story is beautiful, yet in a very un-beautiful way.

When The Wind Blows By James Patterson

[listened to 🎧]

I first read this as a teenager, & i was memerized. I remember how it totally gripped & left me thinking of the world in an entirely new way. Picking it up again, after so long, I wondered it would live up to the hype I’d created for it. It really did!

The story has three main characters; Kit, an FBI agent working without sanction, on a supposedly old case of several mysteriously dead doctors with several dubious things in common: Franny, a Colorado veterinarian whose husband had been one of THOSE⬆️ doctors: But most importantly of all, Max, an 11-year-old girl with secrets to hide & secrets she could never hide, whose strength & purity is all anyone could wish to be. Having spent her life being submitted to vile, inhuman, unethical & cruel experiments; experiments to create superior humans: has Max finally found someone to trust, someone on her side? Can they save her from those who’ve already harmed her? Can they uncover the place & people who’ve done this to her?

With themes of grief, disconnected youth, protectiveness, ethics & an ever-advancing world, this is an exhaustingly energetic, tangibly descriptive & thought-provokingly ‘human’ story, if a little predictable at times. & apparently it now has a sequel ‘The Lake House’, & i think i might just have to buy it pretty soon.

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