I’m not sure if people like reading one book review posts so I thought I would do monthly reading wrap ups. I like to read a mixture of contemporary fiction, true crime and older novels. I’ve also started an online book club, which I will review and discuss separately.
First up is I read the January Book Club pick, America For Beginners. If you want to read my thoughts on it and leave your own, the post is here.
Next I finished next month’s book club pick, When All Is Said by Anne Griffths. There will be a post at the end of February on my thoughts.
The third book of the month was the Lost Man by Jane Harper. Like most people who read The Dry and Force of Nature, I was completely hooked on both but I think Jane Harper’s latest novel The Lost Man is the best yet. Set the unbearably hot and harsh Australian outback, the novel is the story of an unexpected and peculiar death. Cameron Bright was born and raised in the area and more than wise to the difficult conditions of the environment so when his body is found in the desert having died due to dehydration, his brothers, Nathan and Bub are surprised. The eldest brother, Nathan is convinced Cameron’s death was not an accident, it must have been something more sinister. The Lost Man is far than a murder mystery. It’s a story of family, relationships, loneliness, small town syndrome, secrets, mistakes and forgiveness. During the course of the novel, the secrets of Bright family are revealed, not just Cameron but Nathan too. It’s a real so burn, there is no rush to reveal what exactly what exactly happened. I think this novel will appeal to both fans of murder mysteries and family dramas, it straddles both genres, wonderfully. I love the how realistic The Man is, it doesn’t seem far-fetched or OTT. Jane Harper is properly brilliant at describing the scene. Her descriptions of the Australian outback are very vivid – the suffocating heat, the dusty desert and a isolation of town is comes to life through Harper’s passages. Considering how much I enjoyed Jane Harper’s first two novels, I even surprised myself with how quickly I raced through The Lost Man. It was genuinely a novel I couldn’t stop, I needed to know the outcome and the ending was incredibly satisfying. I knew she was great writer, her plots were very good and her previous novels were generally brilliant but her third was even better. I really enjoyed how the plot unfolded, and I liked the characters she created.
Next was a book I’ve meant to read for months, Crudo by Olivia Laing. I had heard a lot of good things about Crudo but I was disappointed. Set in the summer of 2017, the novella mentions Trump, Brexit, Grenfell, Korea climate change, the environment and gender equality. We meet Kathy, she is forty years old and about to get married for the third time, the novel is her thoughts and opinions about marriage, her husband, her life and the world today. I found it an odd novel. I generally don’t like stream of consciousness novels, I find the style quite annoying but the style was the main problem for me this time, it was the main character, Kathy Acker. Laing has adapted the persona of real life US author, Kathy Acker who died in 1997. From what I can gather, the novel is written by Laing in the style of Acker. I like the “currentness” of the novel but I wasn’t wowed by Laing’s writing style, I actually found her writing annoying. I don’t think it helps that I don’t particularly like stream of consciousness novels but I found this novel particularly hard going, I felt like I was reading a very long, rambling blog post. While I find the spate of very current novels interesting, the fact all the protagonists are wealthy, privileged and London based – it’s starting to become a little samey.
The fifth book of the month was Still Lives Maria Hummel.
Final book of the month Where The Crawdads Sing by