Reading during September has been a bit of a struggle. I decided I needed a little bit of humour to lift my spirits out of the funk that ‘Ruby’ (Cynthia Bond) caused, so with that in mind, I went searching in the local library.
I’ve read earlier novels by Marina Lewycka, so grabbed The Lubetkin Legacy from the trolley when I saw it. Anticipating another quirky drama, that’s exactly what I got. This time it was set in North London and revolved around the trials and tribulations of Berthold Sidebottom trying to avoid eviction from his mother’s council flat following her death. Enter Inna, an elderly Ukrainian woman his mother befriended in hospital, who attempts to pose as his mother during Council inspections. The novel essentially examines the problem of affordable housing in the London area, but there were too many intermingled storylines. It went on and on….and left me disappointed. I loved A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and Two Caravans, but this just didn’t hit the mark.
And so I moved on to Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All, Jonas Jonasson. This was another case of choosing a book based on the earlier works that I have read and loved. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window was hilarious and very clever. I became an immediate fan of Jonas Jonasson, and wasn’t disappointed when I read The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden. But this, I’m not sure about. It has the quirky characters (a woman priest who doesn’t believe in God; a receptionist at a cheap hotel; and a hitman who has found the Lord), doing crazy things to make money and live a comfortable life (not necessarily legal). It’s funny. But it didn’t make me laugh out loud. That’s what I’ve come to expect and that’s what I wanted.
The Life and Death of Sophie Stark (Anna North), marked a change in direction. Time to leave the humour behind and move on. I found this hard to get into but not because of the writing. It was a case of not picking it up for long enough in any one sitting, which meant it came off as a little disjointed. How wrong I was. This was a great book and I am very pleased I persevered.
Sophie Stark is a film maker and this is the story of her life told through the eyes of the few individuals she becomes close to. We get to know Sophie through exploring these relationships and her impact on the people she leaves behind, when she moves on from the difficult situations she creates.
And when you find a really good new cookbook, you just have to add it to the month’s reading list. After all, I’ve spent many cups of tea in the month of September browsing Neighbourhood. This is a book full of salads: salads that you can’t wait to make and eat. Hands down my book of the month.