Books I have read …

The Book of Strange New Things : A Novel by Michel Faber

I started reading this book because I so enjoyed Faber’s Crimson Petal and the White. Since I an not a science fiction buff, I was a bit wary of ruining my enjoyment of the author. But The Book of Strange … is a gem of a novel. Again, Faber writes in great detail, which might put some readers off. His books tend to be thick, with detailed language. The protagonist, Peter, and his wife, Bea, are separated when Peter’s job takes him to another galaxy to share the Bible’s gospels. Bea remains and her faith and survival is tested by earthly disasters. “Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us” (publisher).  Read an excerpt here.

The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn

I was listening to an NPR podcast with Jennifer Jason Leigh as the guest, and she said how much she loved this author and that she, Hugo Weaving, and Benedict Cumberbatch (as Patrick) were going to star in a TV series version. I knew I had to read the book first. I have not been disappointed. This collection of novels takes Patrick through his abusive childhood, addiction plagued early adulthood, to a recovering man who sees the world through intensely sharp but skeptical eyes. While the stories might best be read separately, they hold up as a series. But, by the last book, I was a bit tired of Patrick’s complaints and tribulations. You understand his pathos, having read his life from age five to late adulthood, but might not have much sympathy by the 650th page. Read an excerpt here.

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Ann and Wade live a solitary life in northern Idaho. In his 50s, Wade has early-onset dementia. He no longer remembers his first wife killing one of their daughters while the other girl disappeared into the surrounding forest. Ann is determined to figure out what happened and why, while incarcerated Jenny stays zombie like and uncommunicative. It’s a good story line, but the unrelenting misery of the characters makes for a depressing read. Since this is Ruskovich’s first novel, I am hoping she learns to alleviate the morose mood with some lighter moments. Since the novel moves back and forth between the past and near future, adding some happy memories would be a welcome device to make the tone of the book not such a one note tragedy. Read an excerpt here.

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