28. Title: Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
Recommended by: Emily, in the press office for the publisher, and sent to me by the same
Read: 2 – 5 August
Bernadette Fox, enigmatic architect and mother of Bee, lives in Seattle; she isn’t designing buildings but she is getting up the noses of the mothers at Bee’s school. I read this book in about three sittings: it’s witty and charming, easy to read, and refreshingly different. The characters are barking in a brilliant way, and it’s one of the more inventive books I’ve read recently, being compiled of letters, emails and, in one case, the transcript of a TED talk. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Author: Peter Bradshaw
Recommended by: no one – picked up from the book swap selection at last month’s London Book Club
Read: 6 – 8 August
This book has one of the most inventive premises of anything I’ve read recently: on the night of VE Day, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret are allowed out of the palace to party with the masses under the not-very-close supervision of a couple of dashing Scots Guards. Obviously, mayhem ensues. While some of the scenes are nicely handled, the whole thing didn’t quite live up to its potential.
Author: David Grann
Recommended by: The Writer, whose copy I’ve appropriated
Read: 12 – 22 August
I’m not normally a fan of non-fiction; and I’m rarely gripped enough by any book to take a break from my desk at lunchtime to go and sit in the park and read. This turned both of those on their heads. Don’t be put off by the title – the book has only the merest to do with Sherlock Holmes. Instead, it’s a collection of Grann’s essays on all kinds of weird and wonderful things you had no idea existed or that you found fascinating. From the Sherlock Holmes expert found dead in his flat with a shoelace and three mysterious phone numbers; to men devoting their lives hunting giant squid; to the injustices of the legal system in Texas which puts to death innocent people because officials don’t understand the intricacies of fire, it’s a phenomenal read.
Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Recommended by: chosen as the book for the London Book Club meeting at the beginning of September and bought from Amazon
Read: 22 August – 1 September
I will admit that I wasn’t blown away by the blurb for this, but reading outside of the comfort zone is what Book Club is about so. On this occasion, I should have stuck to my gut feeling. God, this is average. Quite how it was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize, I don’t know. Some of the writing is lovely, but otherwise distinctly meh, and a slog to get to the end. Butterflies, and rural nothingness, and that’s about it. Ooof.