Reading August…it’s been a busy month with the upgrade of my site, but it’s never too busy to pick up a book. I have to say my choices have been mediocre, which is disappointing, but that’s the nature of the game. You never really know what you’re in for, even if you base your selection on reviews or if you go to the effort to read the blurb.
Having enjoyed Colm Tóibin’s first novel ‘The South’, I thought I’d give ‘Brooklyn’ a go. This is an easy read about a young Irish woman moving to New York during the 1950s. Her hometown was struggling with unemployment and an opportunity arose through a New York based Irish priest, that would set her life on a more prosperous path. The novel explores her life adjusting to the city, gaining an education and building relationships. But when she is unexpectedly called home, circumstances arise that make her question the decisions she has made in the immediate past. This book was totally readable and 3/5 star enjoyable. My problem with it though was the main character’s lack of foresight and her willingness to fall into line with what others wanted, which to me, went against the courage she displayed to make the journey in the first place. Worth a read though.
‘A Spool of Blue Thread’ (Anne Tyler) was in the same vain: a family saga about an ordinary family, leading pretty ordinary lives. But with several members hiding dark secrets, things ultimately unravel and we get to see how collective memories falter through individual interpretations and knowledge of key events. The trials, tribulations and history of the Whitshanks across generations is a good read. It’s well written, tells an interesting story, but for me, it’s a little on the bland side. It’s like watching a slow movie: you either sit back, relax and enjoy it, or you get frustrated by the pace.
And then there was ‘Ruby’ (Cynthia Bond). After struggling with this book I decided to check out the reviews. It appears you either love it or hate it. I fall into the latter group – I really didn’t like it. Unfortunately, I have this thing that once I start reading a book I feel compelled to keep going, despite how much I dislike it.
Ruby explores horrific topics in graphic detail: appalling mistreatment of people (children and adults), racism, and the impact of a mob mentality on perpetuating crimes of this nature. The subject matter; the inclusion of supernatural elements, which I found confusing; and the continuous mistreatment of Ruby as a child and as an adult, left me feeling wretched by the end. What was worse, I just couldn’t get it out of my head – the events described in the book were relentless, graphic and just made you feel horrible. I found it very hard to pick up a new book once I’d finished it but vowed that it would light-hearted and make me laugh. Hopefully I’ll be able to recommend something next month…