Review: The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock by Jane Riley

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I discovered this book in First Reads [for Kindle] part of Amazon’s Prime.

The Story

Funeral director/mortician/embalmer Oliver Clock is in a rut. He runs the family business, Clock and Son Funeral Home with the unnecessary and overbearing oversight of his mother. He has reached a certain age and has not married, nor is he actively pursuing anyone. He likes to make resolutions in his notebook to occasionally make a change in his well-ordered and very neat and tidy life. Then it happens that his life is thrown for a loop–a loss, new competition, two women, and more make him rethink just about everything.

My Thoughts

This was a fun little addition to what I’ve come to call the “Something, something life of somebody, somebody” genre. Oliver is a good guy and easy to relate to. The story line is simple, curves in the road are easy to spot and the resolution of problems are predictable. In this case, these are wonderful things. This will never be mistaken for a soul-wrenching, trauma-inducing Oprah book. Reece, though, may love it.

I did, however, find it hard to remember that Oliver was a man. He was so woman-like. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” I hasten to add. Instead of Seinfeld, though, I was left thinking of Friends–the one with Ross and “Sometimes I want to take a bath and put on Kenny G.” I don’t know any men of any age who’d admit to using bath bombs! I thought a lot of his reactions were very feminine. Happily, he finally showed me what he was made of and it made me love him all the more.

My Verdict

A Fun 3 Star Read

The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock by Jane Riley

Review: Travel Light, Move Fast by Alexandra Fuller

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My Interest

I’ve enjoyed all of Fuller’s memoirs of her family’s life in Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi due to my own stay in Malawi and visit to Zimbabwe. Her Colonial with a capital “C” mother, her wild father, disowned by his British family, are the sort of people I tend to love–their belief in Rhodesia and all it stood for aside. She has become a “must-read” author for me.

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Zambia–where the family now lives

The Story

Having had a childhood lived in unusual circumstances marks a person, but having such a childhood and having it in the middle of a war, can do real damage. Fuller’s growing up could be called Glass Castle meets Out of Africa. Part abuse, part wild ride, part fantastic adventure. In this installment of her family memoirs, she begins in Budapest with her father’s death while there on holiday. This time the author is narrating the audio version and she voices her mother EXACTLY the way I imagined her, which was very exciting for me.

Having very seriously contemplated staying on in Malawi, I always find the daily life parts of her memoirs to be the best and that continued in this volume. That the author is only about 7  years younger than me makes it all the more relatable. But this time the cracks are showing. The end of Dad is too much–and for the author, there is more in store after that [no spoilers].

Her eccentric parents, who “survive magnificently,” have aged and their daughters, “squaddies [i.e. G.I.s/soldiers] before they were sisters” are in their 50s and time has not helped the wounds of their childhood. The mother whose leaving the house checklist once went something like “Uzi, bullets, lipstick, sunglasses” is still her indomitable Memsiab self, surrounded by her beloved troop of dogs and cats, and after 50+ years of marriage, she and her husband still “do not bore each other” and still do not try to possess each other.

I adore her parents in spite of it all, in spite of a war to keep Africans from ruling their own country. They are backbone of the Empire sorts who let nothing defeat them. These are not the stuffy folks who inhabit the Cricket and Tennis Club, or who run the local Anglican Church and hold the Gymkhanas. These are the real settlers. Give them land, sufficient booze, dogs, books, and an old Land Rover and they will survive. The booze is the key. And cigarettes. Lots and lots of cigarettes–or those “anti-mad” pills Mum gets from the Indian chemist. It IS a rough life.

Her mother with her books and animals has transformed herself time and again and is now a very successful fish farmer, having educated herself for her new role. She may have lost the war, but she’s won the battle–the family survived. Her very Mitford U-ish speech adds to the whole picture of one who can “Keep Buggering On” as Churchill said, quite beautifully even in a war, even after burying three babies. In this book, even she has reached her limit. I could completely relate to her rant about being sick of people telling her she’s strong and that she’d love to just fall apart.

The author’s father, who can hunt from a moving Land Rover, probably could still have played a rugby match at 70, and like any good Colonial Bwana could drink everyone under the table, could also live on beans on toast, alcohol, and tobacco. Like my own father, I’m sure Tim Fuller could have taken the Lord’s name in vain as any figure of speech. (They also saw eye-to-eye on missionaries). He could light a cigarette, fire an Uzi, and keep driving the Land Rover even with a hunting guide on the roof. That’s a manly man. He loved his wife, his family, and his life. [He also loathed “online f—ing banking” to which I say “hear, hear” especially on the passwords.]

It is the sisters though who are doing the worst. Vanessa has been in a clinic in South Africa, both are divorced, Vanessa is remarried, and the author is in a new relationship. No one in the family is at all happy about the books–and, honestly? Who can blame them? While I have loved reading them, I can see it from their side: Why are you telling our secrets? Why is it all reduced to your perspective, your way of seeing it?  The fissures are deep and will rend the family with Dad’s passing.

My Thoughts

The author, though, became whining somewhere along the way. [No spoilers but I am NOT disregarding something I cannot reveal without spoiling part of the book–ok?] The end of the book was a lot New Agey, naval gaze-y, word salad-ish moaning. [Tiny spoiler] That her new relationship wasn’t going to be the love of the ages was about as obvious as Meghan’s “love” for poor, dim Harry. That one she needed to walk it off–follow her Dad’s advice and have a party. Alcohol, her parents believe, lets one suffer successfully. She should have done that and had a splendid and necessary hangover, then reloaded and got back in the war of life.

I found the end of the book [in spite of what I won’t spoil] annoying. It bordered on minor-league narcissism–“Me, me, me–my, my, my–mine, mine, mine]. A girl raised to be a stalwart Rhodesian, able to take what life sends you for Queen and Empire (well, Commonwealth) or just because you won’t take it off any bastard, shouldn’t have grown into such a whiner. It almost spoils the excellence of her writing. I’m very much like her parents when it comes to freaking out over everything. I’d have had to tell her to get over herself and carry on! I wanted to say, “Look, the did the correct first aid, loaded all the guns, loaded you into that station wagon and drove you through a war to the hospital–remember? They CARED.”

The author’s falling apart and her self-absorption [part of which WAS 100% understandable — no spoilers] and the family’s dislike of her books, brings to mind Madeline L’Engle’s Crosswicks Diaries. L’Engle’s children dismissed them as “fiction.” I don’t think that is the case here, but I could see the annoyance so clearly, and equally clearly hear the author’s belief that she was right and saw things right. That was a bit hard to take.

Now? Who’s for a cup of tea and who’s for a g & t? In spite of my feelings on the end, this book is a good read. Need an ashtray? Here–have a dog, or would you prefer a cat?

My Verdict

3.5 Stars

I couldn’t give it a full 4 stars due to the whiney parts.

 

Travel Light, Move Fast by Alexandra Fuller.

 

Alexandra Fuller’s previous books that I have read:

Review: The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches From the Border by Francisco Cantú

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The Story

A young man graduates from college where his major was international relations and where he developed an interest in border politics and joins the border patrol. He discovers that life isn’t fair, that decent people get hurt, and that bad guys often do win. He also finds out that killing and endangering lives is a part of law enforcement work and that law enforcement jobs are not for everyone.

The author then quits the border patrol and begins to virtue signal about helping a nice man with a family who is caught in the crack-down on illegal entry. The man had been in the USA illegally for 30 years and had 3 children–all American citizens. After 16 to 18 years of marriage, his wife still speaks no English, his children, educated here, speak broken English. This undocumented immigrant’s path to citizenship was pretty much assured if he just stayed put until his eldest son was 18, which was only 2 or 3 years to go.

Instead, he risks all and tries to go home to be with his mother at her death. The author, Francisco (once named Joshua Tyler) acts as his advocate and translated–all very good and noble and we need more such volunteers in courts everywhere. Never once does he question anything but that the man had been here 30 years and “should” be a citizen–he is the right kind of person. No arguing with the good person thing, but why did he never seek to normalize his status?

My Thoughts

I am surprised, yes I know they have a strong liberal bias, that NPR regarded this book so highly.  The first part perhaps deserved the praise. The rest? I was very disappointed in the last half of this book. The author’s biggest interest seemed in making a name for himself before applying to graduate school. He tries to make this book–especially the end–more impressive by interesting poetry and quotes from Mexican authors. The ploy may have gotten him a great fellowship for grad school (I do not know) but it did not save the book.

Thank you to Readerbuzz who made me aware of this book.

My Rating

2.5

The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú

Review: The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

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“Remembering is a chair that it is hard to sit still in.” [Hoopla edition, p. 760]

The Story

The Yellow house is Sarah Monique Broom’s memoir of growing up in a small, dilapidated house in New Orleans –a house that came to define her family. While they all “knew” without it being discussed that theirs was a house to which no friends could ever be invited, it was their soul.

“…the place I never wanted to claim had, in fact, been containing me… I was now the house.” [p. 788]

My Thoughts

When watching Katrina and its aftermath the media often painted a picture of people unwilling to help themselves. They painted a picture of people not very empowered or used to dealing with authority. This book shows that to be a not completely accurate picture. New Orleans was more than just the French Quarter and the hardest hit, often poor, neighborhoods.

Sarah and her large family had the normal sorts of dysfunction to which all families are prey, but in spite of the Yellow House falling down around them,  the family was educated and held decent jobs of the sort which anyone would be proud. Sarah’s mother, Ivory Mae was a nursing assistant and seamstress–going back to school to upgrade her skills. Several of her children went to college, another son was a chef in Paul Prudhomme’s famous restaurant, and a sister attended the prestigious Parson’s School of Design in New York another son was the grounds-keeper for the local NASA facility.

These are not “unempowered” people. That the city government was corrupt, morally bankrupt and at times barely functioning, that the local school had stopped educating and that the police verged on being a gang, was not the fault of the family or their neighbors. While this eventually came out in the Katrina coverage, this book made me see even more clearly than at the time just how racially biased the major new networks were in their coverage of Katrina and of the people it affected.

Ivory Mae, Sarah/Monique’s mother, is a true Southern African-American matriarch. She commanded, the family obeyed. When she saw Sarah getting out of line in Middle School, she put her into a private, Conservative Christian school where she was one of a small handful of African American students and made sure she was in church any time the doors were open. It saved Sarah and let her have the career she enjoys today. I admire that mother so much!

Sarah, in spite of attending a private Christian school, received no guidance on choosing a college even though she was an excellent student with excellent test scores. She chose the University of North Texas because a boy she liked was going there. Apparently, either she was not advised on financial aid, or owning the Yellow House was enough to keep her from adequate financial aid in an era when it still existed for she encumbered herself with student loans to pay out-of-state tuition to UNT. She was, however, savvy enough to use the school’s programs to attend semesters at other colleges in New York and New Jersey.

“By the time I was a junior at Word of Faith, I had gained an interiority, a place without strictures where I could live, and that inside space was the room I loved best. High school, for me, boiled down to my desire to leave it for an elsewhere that I did not yet know.” [p. 571]

The quote above is what made me love this book and love Sarah/Monique so much. We are soul-mates. This describes my high school experience perfectly.  But it was after this that I felt the book lost its momentum. It is still an outstanding book–but the drive of the story deteriorated. I felt a bit cheated when I read an aside about her attending Berkley for graduate school. That would have been far more interesting to me than Sarah’s end of the book homage to her temporary life in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  So too was her Burundi experience a let-down. The typical American experience of rushing in to help and not knowing enough about anything to get anything done. She’d have done more good joining the Peace Corps. I’d like to have heard more, too, about working for Oprah’s magazine–that’s quite a coup of a first (or early) job!

I also admired the role her older brothers played in her life. While some of these men had lost “two Dads”–a father and a loving step-father, they did not hesitate to step in and be a father-figure to their little sister. This, too, belies some of what the media tries to tell us of African American families–though at least one of the brothers did have a scattered family of his own and children with, different mothers, from what was shown in the book he was a true father to all of them. I found the brothers’ and the rest of the families’ post-Katrina lives were given too little attention–the author, or her editor, wanting to focus instead on the more “glamorous” jobs Sarah had earned.

My Verdict

The Yellow House was the first book in years that kept me sitting up reading for hours into the night.This book deserves the hype and the award it won. It will be forever on my list of favorite memoirs even if I had moments of disappointment in the direction the story did and did not go.

4.5 Stars

[I almost NEVER give 5 stars, fyi]

 

 

For More on New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina see:

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Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink

Review: Travelers: A Novel by Helon Habila

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I learned of this book from City of Asylum Books

Remember: Regardless of which online retailer I link to in my posts, I do not make any money off your clicks. They are simply included for your convenience. Today I am linking to an Indie bookseller–the one that introduced me to this novel.

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My Interest

Our world is experiencing an unprecedented flux of refugees. Border policies, immigration laws, and related policy topics are at the forefront of national debates. All varieties of exclusionist Nationalism are rearing their ugly heads all over the place.  Another book, a nonfiction title, Afropean: Notes From Black Europe by Johny Pitts, also caught my eye as I followed the rabbit trail through the internet that led me to this novel. I will review that book another time–if I am able to get a copy through the library.

The Story

Leaving America with his wife so she can do accept a prestigious fellowship in Berlin, a Nigerian graduate student finds life in today’s Europe to be an interesting mix of nationalities–all seeking to better their lives in affluent, well-educated Northern European countries. The various characters that cycle through the story come from different countries–mostly African nations struggling with poverty. Some have been refugees, others have arrived as students. All come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. The refugee experience, whether intentional or from lapsing out of legal status, is what they have in common.

My Thoughts

When Malawi was mentioned I knew I’d read this book. Zambia came up as well as other countries with which I was familiar.  I found the stories poignant, but not cloying. The characters were mostly very believable. One was a bit pc but it made me stop and wonder, if, just if, perhaps things truly have changed enough for that character’s story to be based on reality. The narrative was woven like a tapestry–the different people and experiences overlapping in a way that I enjoyed. The ways people adapted, the places they made into homes, those were the human side of things that we often forget and which the book made so real.

My Verdict

4 Stars

Travelers: A Novel by Helon Habila

I will definitely read more of this author’s work.

Review: Less by Andrew Sean Greer

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Thanks to blogger Book Club Mom for bringing this book to my attention.

The Story

“…Less finds himself searching for an appropriate prayer. He was, however, raised Unitarian so he has only Joan Baez to turn to and ‘Diamonds and Rust’ gives no solace.”

Andrew Less wants to escape his life. His ex-lover is getting married throwing him into a spin. Less accepts a writing assignment and travels to it via the world. A one-time bright light in the “Russian River School” of poets and writers, Arthur Less today is well, less than that. Told in shifting scenes back-and-forth in time, the novel shows us a sometimes, funny, often wonderfully ridiculous, middle-aged gay man whose life is less than he’d like it to be.

My Thoughts

I found Andrew Less to be an amusing character. The ordinariness of his novelist’s life was fun. I loved his run-ins with red-tape–like getting a refund on VAT-taxes. And then there were the all-too-real conference and talking head show scenes. Loved, loved, loved them! Those were the scenes that made the book so fun.

I liked, too, that Arthur Less encountered a group of Christians and didn’t go off on how bigotted they were–of course, they weren’t Americans so maybe that is why.

Had I picked this up without the Pulitzer Prize winner billing, I’d have really thought it as good. But what the heck? How did this beach-read earn the Pulitzer Prize for fiction? I must have missed some massive symbolism of something. I fun read–sure, absolutely. A memorable character? Sure. Think all those The Something Something Life of Somebody Somebody-titled books about quirky characters only male. That’s Less. The author must have set the world’s best lobbyists to work on the Pulitzer committee. To compare this to The Underground Railroad, The Killer Angels, The Color Purple, The Caine Mutiny, or The Good Earth (other Pulitzer Prize winners) is laughable.

My Verdict

3.5

A fun read, well worth your time, but forget Pulitzer Prize winner status.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

 

Review: The Last Train to London: A Novel by Meg Waite Clayton

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My Interest

If you read this blog regularly you will know that World War II and the Holocaust are major topics of my nonfiction reading. I have known of the  Kindertransports, but have read next to nothing about them. So, when an author I’ve enjoyed released a new novel on the whole rescue operation I wanted to read it immediately. I listened to the audiobook this week and was amazed.

The Story

In 1936 teen Stephan Neuman, a budding writer and playwright, his little brother Walter, the child’s beloved stuffed Peter Rabbit, (who plays a delightful role in the book) and the boys’ parents live in the lap of luxury in Vienna, their life paid for by the fabulous Neuman’s Chocolate company that is the family’s pride. As one of the wealthiest Jewish families in Austria, their lives are about to descend into chaos and hell on Earth. Žofie-Helene Perger, a Christian girl of Stephan’s age, is a math prodigy whose parents believe in writing and publishing the truth about Hitler and his regime.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, Truus Wijsmuller, soon to be Tante Truus to the many children of the coming kindertransports, is rescuing small groups of Jewish children and spiriting them across the border to safety with Dutch families. As time goes on more and more nations, the United States included, shut their doors to Jewish refugees. At last the British agree to take Jewish children on a “temporary” basis that everyone knows could be forever. Included, too, are children in mortal danger for other reasons–children with communist parents or children of other political opponents of the Reich.  When Truus wrangles an appointment with Vienna’s fearsome Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Nazi’s “Final Solution,” he agrees to the transportation of children out of Austria but sets seemingly impossible conditions under which it must be done. Any deviation from his set conditions and the whole deal is off.

What I Loved

First of all, Meg Waite Clayton can tell a story! Second, she’s done her research. While the story occasionally lurched just a bit, I couldn’t stop listening.  Stephan’s dramatic story clutched at my heart. His sweetness to his little brother was one of maturity–it was never precious or fake. That was so wonderful to read. His care for his poor mother, too, was that of a man, not what today we call a teenager. Žofie-Helene’s geeky math-love was used to such great advantage that even I was interested in higher math! The little “family” clinging to each other and the relationship between Stephan and Žofie-Helene, was poignant. But it was Truus, the woman we all hope we’d be in the face of such evil, that ultimately left me spellbound.

My Verdict

This book is a wonder. To tell such a story with such grace and such tenderness takes great talent. Yes, there were a few flaws–obviously, no one would have discussed such things on a telephone under the Nazis, but the reader instinctively knows these conversations were needed to drive the plot. The occasional lurches that I mentioned above made me wonder if there were last-second cuts by an editor. The title, too, was “off” to me–but I supposed it relates to a scene near the end [no spoilers] or was badly chosen by a marketing team. No matter! These are not things to concern the reader.

The book is lovely. Just read it.

4 Stars

 

You may also be interested in:

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Defying the Nazi’s: The Sharp’s War about two Americans who rescued Jewish children.

 

 

 

Other Books I’ve Loved by Meg Waite Clayton

Paris

 

My review of Meg Waite Clayton’s The Race For Paris

 

 

 

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My review, from my old blog, of Meg Waite Clayton’s book The Wednesday Sisters: “If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a writer….
If you’ve ever wished for a writer’s group in your own backyard….
This is the book for you! A novel of my Mother’s generation–when it wasn’t taken for granted that women SHOULD, let alone COULD make their own dreams come true. The husband’s dreams–well, of course! This is a book of sisterhood, of motherhood, neighborhood and, if such a word exists, wife-hood. I loved it. Yes, there are stereotypical things….So what? is what I say this time. My one and only complaint was that the only negative character was a Christian. Otherwise, I loved it cover-to-cover.”  The Wednesday Sisters, by Meg Waite Clayton.

Review: The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel

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My Interest

It’s always that ONE book you fail to add to your longer-than-lifespan Goodreads TBR that nags at you, am I right? I’d all but given up finding this (yes, a librarian is admitting to stumping herself!) when it popped up serendipitously in a book list. I immediately requested it from the library even though it was not to be had on audio.

The Story

“No one ever warned us that life would be long.” (p. 52)

I liked the whole premise of the book: Two passengers, who were briefly lovers in their first years of adulthood, find themselves seated side-by-side on a normal commuter train in late middle-age. As the journey continues, each tries to speak up and acknowledge the other while reliving their past relationship via flashbacks. Their emotions so conflicted, the story jerks along like a local train. When finally the chance to speak comes…. [No spoilers].

What I Liked

I liked the very ordinariness of both characters. Even though one was a greater success professionally, they were both utterly ordinary. Neither was brilliant. Neither had those magical, color-changing eyes or a profound wit. They were what they were: a 40-something executive and a 40-something salesperson. Both with spouse and family. But with a few weeks of shared past. That was all. Yet it was enough to tie them in emotional knots after all the years that had passed.

At 148 pages, this is either a long novella or a very short novel. Regardless, the length was exactly right.

 

The 6:41 to Paris  by Jean-Philippe Blondel, translated by Alison Anderson

 

Review: The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover

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My Interest

I learned of this book last month during Nonfiction November in this post of nonfiction favorites from blogger Book ‘d Out. During my stint in Peace Corps in Malawi in 1989 to 1991 the other expatriates with whom I was friends were Australians. I remember the wife being surprised when recounting her time at Syracuse University in New York state, that she was expected to have a home phone even though she would be there less than two years! Even in 1989 that was unimaginable to me–an American. Today I have another good friend in Australia, who, like me, grew up in the same era as this author.

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The Story

Richard Glover was the child of a Ten Pound Pom–an Englishman who accepted a bargain fare underwritten by the government to immigrate to Australia. There he did well enough to send Richard to a tony private school–something that would have been forever beyond his reach in the UK of that time. Richard tells of the various ways Australia was different back then–the title’s bemoaned lack of avocados being one way.  His humor takes us easily through all the ways children died back then–such as being flung thru windshields of cars due to no car seats. He wrote this book more to show that nostalgia is misleading–things are far better today for the average Australian than they were in the 60s and 70s–a more than 12 year gain in life expectancy being only one obvious proof.

My Thoughts

I was surprised to learn that “Night Soil” men still plied their revolting, but necessary trade even city neighborhoods into the 1970s. when a Prime Minister’s great achievement was getting everyone “flushed”–i.e. connected to sewers, rather than to septic tanks or worse. I also learned why my friend was so surprised that Americans expected everyone to have a phone–an up to two-year wait for one in Australia into the 1970s!

Overall, many “differences” between then and now were fairly universal among developed nations of the time. Kids roamed free, no one wore seatbelts, everyone tossed trash out the car windows, no one “hydrated” or ate broccoli, workers had Unions who saw to it that they earned a living wage and had affordable health care. Of course, the truly bad things were there, too–all those death in car accidents from no seat belts or drunk driving, widespread racial discrimination, no concept of sexual identity so discrimination against anyone not heterosexual, widespread office/factory floor sexual harassment, etc.

Today, worldwide, figures show we are ALL better off–yes all, even HIV/AIDS patients in Sub-Saharan Africa who now have hope of medication.  Still, we like to look back and say how great the good old days were when children routinely drowned in unsecured backyard pools or from swallowing medicine without a protective cap.

The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover

My Verdict

3 Stars

Two Reviews: We Met In December: A Novel by Rosie Curtist and The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

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The Story

When Jess takes her dream job in publishing in London, a friend offers her a chance to share a house in Notting Hill, a location she couldn’t afford ever, she jumps at it. The housemates all get along, but one stands out to Jess–Alex. A lawyer retraining to be a nurse, Alex has that “spark.” He takes Jess on walks to different places in London and along the way they become good friends. But, it’s complicated. Both are very British and so don’t butt in or pry–but maybe they should?

Either I missed the first mention in a bad moment in traffic (it happens since I listen to audiobooks on my daily commite) or else “The Book” [no spoilers] was only mentioned at that cruicial point. “The Book,” if you’ve read it, makes the story crystal clear, but I immediately sensed a slight change to the ending. I was right.

My Thoughts

This was a standard chick lit novel, but at times it grew annoying. Neither Jess nor Alex could bother to ask a follow-up question that would have solved their problems. Even for chick lit, which is never deep and isn’t really supposed to be, the characters were not well enough developed for me to keep them straight beyond Jess, Alex, and Rob. James made me flash all the back to the 80’s to Richard in the movie The Big Chill. I was also glad that “The Book” was mentioned because I was begining to scream plagiarism (sort of) since I’d read it and seen the movie and loved both. I do give the book high marks for allowing a platonic relationship to develp over more than a year. Gee, could that be why they learned to like each other?

The story also got confusing because I’d just read The Flatshare [review below], which also features a young woman in her dream job in the London publishing world and a guy who is a nurse (I think both nurses may even have had/looked at a flat in the same almost affordable neighborhood). Overall, I give The Flatshare the higher marks.

We Met in December was still fun, just not as much fun as it’s rival The Flatshare. I’ve rated it 3 stars since this is the author’s first book–I’m confident she will get better with each new book.

My Verdict

3 Stars

We Met in December: A Novel by Rosie Curtis is currently $1.99 for Kindle

 

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The Story

Tiffy is in a bad place. Her boyfriend, Justin, is great on paper, not great in real life. She has to be her own flat–must move out of his. Unfortunately, she’s a junior editor at a publisher specializing in DIY books so can’t afford anywhere in London. In desperation, she decides to try the add for a flatshare with one flaw: There’s only one bed. Not that she will be co-occupying it though. The man with the lease is a nurse and works the opposite shift. One in the bed at a time. Leon, too, has a less than fab partner. In fact, it is Kay, his girlfriend, who interviews Tilly and approves her as the flatmate. After Tilly moves in she leaves Leon a note and begins their getting acquainted on paper. Finally, though, the day comes when the inevitable happens (no spoilers) and then things really get going what with crochet, an Instagram influencer, a bunch of old men with the same name, and a girl named Holly.

My Thoughts

This was such a fun book. It is not corny, it is not too-light, it is just a darned good read (well, “listen” in my case–I listened to the audio on my commute). I fell for Tiffy and Leon instantly. My new book “crush” [that should tell you how old I am–probably no one says that now]. I’m pretty sure no one ‘ships couples anymore either, but wow! What a ‘ship! This is perfect to be turned into a movie. I hope unknowns are cast as the leads.

The Flatshare: A Novel by Beth O’Leary

My Verdict

4 Stars