Sunday, 19 July 2009

31. Karen Armstrong - Through the Narrow Gate

What a powerful book! Ms Armstrong’s writing is beautiful even when what she must describe is not. She does not spare herself in this chronicle of her years as a nun but neither does she spare the Church or the Order of which she was a part. I found the narrative equally disturbing and enlightening. It was disturbing because I have certain character traits in common with the author and enlightening because she has found an alternative way forward. I look forward to reading the next instalment of her autobiography and shall look out for her other works.

Monday, 13 July 2009

30. Khaled Hosseini - A Thousand Splendid Suns

I bought this book fully expecting something very like The Kite Runner. In fact, I don’t think I bothered to read the blurb on the back page beyond ‘By the author of The Kite Runner.’ Having read it – both book and back page – I am a little disappointed.

Mr Hosseini’s main characters in this book are female – Mariam and Laila – while those of The Kite Runner are male. I’m never very sure about male authors writing female characters and I’m sure that speaks volumes of my own prejudices. In my eyes, Mr Hosseini struck perfection in The Kite Runner. This time around, however, he has just missed the mark and I can only attribute the slippage to those female characters.

The story is engaging and exquisitely plotted. The first shift from Mariam to Laila left me feeling a little lost but actually sits well within the overall structure of the book (so do read past this). Some of the scenes are brutal but, I think, each was necessary in this retelling of Afghanistan’s story, from a woman’s point of view.

The overall, lingering effect is one of sadness. I have, however, been educated as well as entertained and I think that this is likely Mr Hosseini’s intention.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

29. Donald Zochert - Laura

This was a fascinating account of Laura and her family which, I believe, holds to the truth. I feel great love for the characters Mr Zochert has introduced me to and wish, once again, that I could know them in person.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

28. Debbie Macomber - 16 Lighthouse Road

This is the second Macomber book I’ve read and I enjoyed it rather more than the first. 16 Lighthouse Road is the first of the ‘Cedar Cove’ series and chronicles a year in the life of Olivia and her friends and family. I found the beginning of the book a bit tedious – there was a lot of telling and not so much showing – but I soon found myself so enchanted with Ms Macomber’s skilful characterisation and nimble plotting that the pages flew by. I’m already looking forward to the next instalment.