WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words
The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?
I have two books on the go at the moment, Robert Harris’ An Officer and a Spy and Never Be Broken, the sixth in Sarah Hilary’s crime series featuring DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake.
An Officer and a Spy is the second of my 15 Books of Summer. It’s one of the longer novels on my list so I thought I would get started on it earlier rather than later; it must be really dispiriting to get to the middle of August and discover that you still have three or four epic length tomes to read. I picked this partly because I’ve enjoyed some of Harris’ other novels (I got bogged down in the Cicero series and didn’t finish book two) but mainly because it is about the Dreyfus Affair and this is an episode in history about which I have always wanted to know more. History at school, for me at least, stopped in 1870 and this is set twenty-five years later in a France made paranoid by their loss of the territories of Alsace and Lorraine to the Germans. So far I am enjoying it very much. It’s very readable and my biggest problem, which is keeping track of all the characters, is ameliorated to some extent by the fact that Harris has provided a list of the dramatis personae.
Never Be Broken, like all the Marnie Rome novels, is set in modern day London and is a harsh reminder of what life is like in the capital both for the displaced and disaffected youth and under class, and the police who have to deal with the consequences of their circumstances. Always underlying the tensions in these books is the fact that Noah is black and given that this particular instalment is concerned with knife crime this is especially relevant, as by many of the people with whom he comes into contact he is seen as a traitor; he has thrown his lot in with the wrong side. Noah’s difficulties are compounded by the death of his brother, Sol, a victim of just such an attack while in gaol for gang related crimes. This has mentally destabilised Noah, who only feels ‘comfortable’ when he can feel Sol’s presence at his side. I’m about half way through this and I’m still not quite certain where it’s going. I suspect we may be in for a debate about the extent to which knife crime is being ‘encouraged’ by some of the very individuals who are so vocal about the disgrace of allowing ‘such people’ on the streets. We shall see.
I’ve recently finished Zoë Heller’s Notes on a Scandal, which was the first of my 15 Books of Summer and which I reviewed here and Elly Griffiths’ new novel for children, A Girl Called Justice. Last week I said that I was going to curl up on Sunday afternoon with the second of these, a pot of tea and a plate of cake, which is just what I did. However, the book didn’t prove quite as enjoyable as I had hoped. A mixture of detective novel, school story and watered down gothic horror, the novel is set in 1936 when twelve year old Justice Jones is packed off to boarding school after the death of her mother. Home schooled up to this point, Justice doesn’t quite know what to expect and while Highbury House, situated in the middle of Romney Marshes, isn’t quite Dotheboys Hall, with its freezing cold bedrooms and appalling food it isn’t far off. Justice’s father is a Defence Lawyer (he defends murderers) and her mother was a detective novelist so, as you can imagine, it isn’t long before their daughter is on the trail of a mysterious death. Aided and abetted by the maid Dorothy, she works her way through most of the Gothic and School Story clichés before triumphantly exposing the villain and setting us up for further adventures by deciding that perhaps boarding school life isn’t so bad after all. My problem was that I couldn’t see who I would give this book to. It wouldn’t appeal to boys at all and most of the Year Five and Six (9-11 years) girls I’ve taught would feel themselves far too sophisticated for both style and content. However, equally, it would be a fairly advanced eight year old who could cope with the language and have the necessary reading stamina. A bit of an enigma. Would it have got published if it hadn’t been Griffiths?
At some point this week I am going to have to start Becky Chambers latest book, A Closed and Common Orbit. This has been chosen for next week’s book group meeting and I have to say that I am rather wary as to how the discussion is going to go. To begin with it is a sequel to an earlier novel and although the blurb says that it stands alone I am not sanguine that that will prove to be the case. In addition it is Science Fiction and the group as a whole aren’t keen on that particular genre. I think the meeting could be a bit rough going. The Amazon introduction reads:
Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has to start over in a synthetic body, in a world where her kind are illegal. She’s never felt so alone.
But she’s not alone, not really. Pepper, one of the engineers who risked life and limb to reinstall Lovelace, is determined to help her adjust to her new world. Because Pepper knows a thing or two about starting over.
Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that, huge as the galaxy may be, it’s anything but empty.
Have any of you read this or any other books by Chambers? Am I worrying unnecessarily.
I’m also intending to start M W Craven’s second Washington Poe novel, Black Summer. When I reviewed the first in this police procedural series, The Puppet Show, I wrote about how much I had enjoyed meeting the young statistical genius, Tilly Bradshaw, who acts as Poe’s sidekick. Tilly does literal like no one else you will ever have met and as someone with Asperger’s I immediately felt at home with her. I’m hoping she will have an even bigger role in this latest outing for the pair.