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?
Almost everything I’m reading at the moment is a re-read in preparation for either the Summer School or for one of the five book groups I now find myself leading. Thank goodness three of these are groups organised very much like this meme, in as much as we talk about what we have just read and are intending to go on to read so no specified texts are involved. With a new library group starting in September, I’ve just put up a second blog site where I can record those books recommended at each meeting to encourage what might be called cross-fertilisation. If you’re interested you can find it here. For the groups where we discuss a particular book, however, I am re-reading Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls. I normally love Barker’s work and I was intrigued by her stated subject matter: the Trojan War as seen from the point of view of the women involved. First time round, however, I was very much underwhelmed by the novel. I thought that those passages that were focused on the men came to life and involved me as a reader so much better than those from the women’s point of view. I am going to be interested to see if I have the same reaction on a second reading and also how the rest of the group respond. We had a very positive discussion on Madeline Miller’s Circe a couple of months ago and inevitably comparisons are going to be drawn.
Putting aside my re-reads, the most recent book I’ve finished is Stone Cold Heart, Caz Frear’s second novel in her series featuring DC Cat Kinsella. The first book, Sweet Little Lies, won the Richard and Judy search for a best seller competition and deservedly so, in my opinion. Frear not only plots well – a must for genre fiction – but she also creates well-defined, believable characters and has a real feel for the rhythm of language. The first book centred around a murder that proved to have links to Cat’s own family and as a result of her covering this up, her own career prospects are over shadowed by the possibility of her father’s criminal associates revealing her personal involvement. This threat is very peripheral in Stone Cold Heart, which more centrally is concerned with the murder of a young Australian woman working in London as a PA to one Kirstie Connor, a woman whose family all ring alarm bells when the police start to investigate. Chief suspect, however, is Kirstie’s brother-in-law, Joseph Madden, a man you really, really want to be guilty. A complete narcissist, who believes the world owes him whatever and whomever he wants, there is ample evidence that Joseph can turn very very nasty when his demands aren’t met. But the contradictions in his wife, Rachel’s, behaviour hamper the police as they try to build a case against him and when their eighteen year old daughter, Clara, also proves to have been lying, Kinsella and her colleagues, DS Parnell and the formidable but likeable, DCI Steele, have their work cut out to finally bring about a resolution.
Frear is definitely a writer to be watched. I would put her up there with the likes of Jane Casey and Sarah Ward, which is high praise indeed.
The re-reading will continue, I’m afraid. Thank goodness they are all such good books. This week I have Simon Mawer’s Tightrope on my list and by the beginning of next week I want to be well into Leo Marks’ From Silk to Cyanide. Both of these are in preparation for our discussion focused on Mawer’s earlier novel, The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, about a young woman, Marian Sutro, who served with the Special Operations Executive during World War II. Tightrope is a continuation of Marian’s story. I hope those taking part in the Summer School don’t actually discover that this exists, as the earlier book ends on something of a cliff hanger which could be spoiled by knowing that there is a sequel. From Silk to Cyanide is a factual account of what those young men and women went through, written from the point of view of someone who devised the codes by which they were able to send messages back to the UK. Some of you may have ‘met’ Leo Marks through the pages of Helene Hanff’s accounts of her time spent in London. He was the son of one of the proprietors of the bookshop at 84 Charing Cross Road and he and his wife became great friends of the American writer. Hanff portrays him as something of a dreamer, almost a bumbling P G Wodehouse type of character. There is no indication of the vital work that he carried out during the war nor of the suffering that he endured as agent after agent failed to return. You meet a very different man in his own book.
If I have time, as something of a light relief, I hope to get round to James Oswald’s latest book in his new crime series featuring Constance Fairchild, Nothing to Hide. I’m a great fan of Oswald’s Tony McLean novels and the Fairchild stories, set in London rather then Edinburgh, are shaping up to be every bit as good. In the first there was one rather unexpected cross over character and so I’m intrigued to see if there is going to be any further interaction between the author’s two worlds.