The Book Thief

 

The Book Thief

 

Picture: amazon.co.uk

This book sat on my shelf since January. I scanned the blurb and amassed the key words “Death” “Nazi” and “War” and wrongly decided to delay reading until Christmas festivities were well and truly put to bed. I made a mistake. I should have read it immediately and spent the following six months pestering all of you to do the same.

Set in 1939 Germany, Death narrates the story in small broken chapters with small broken characters. He shows us Liesel; the nine year old protagonist who grows up more than anybody should over three or four years in the confines of oppression, fear and misplaced hatred.

Despite this, it is the trickles of compassion, hope and love which burn brightest in the novel. It is Mama’s put-down’s and Papa’s devotion, his quiet defiance in a world where human decency looks like weakness. It is her best friend Rudy Steiner’s strife for a kiss. Death looks in occasionally, he makes every character appear vulnerable. Something about the young girl fascinates him but he’s getting busier and busier elsewhere. Alas, he eventually meets all of us once..

The prose is easy to follow and the chapters really short. Get used to Death’s quirky little narrations and side-notes. If at first it feels unnatural – watch it charm you. Markus  Zusak portrays the setting of Nazi Germany very well, there are some worrying similarities to our world, how fear and anger can be manipulated by soundbites and opportunists.

It’s a dark book within a dark (real) world though you are honestly just as likely to laugh as you are to cry. Death is final and this book delivers finality. You feel satisfied with the answers. Ultimately, I took comfort that, if the world really does have Liesel’s and Papa’s and Rudy Steiner’s and if Death trulty is anything like this fellow, then it’s a life worth living (and dying).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Sweet Revenge

My Sweet Revenge

Picture: amazon.co.uk

This weeks reading was My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon.

The concept is fairly straight forward, a devoted wife finds out her husband is having an affair with much more attractive woman and plots her revenge. The problem is she’s fairly sure if she just tells him to leave he will gladly do so, she wants him to care enough to split up with his other woman and fall in love with her again, just so she can tell him to get stuffed and walk out forever.

This was a tempting read, and there were a quite a few twists in in, however there are a couple of plot holes and in the end there are one or two turns that just don’t make any sense. I felt that there were a few subplots that didn’t really go anywhere and we don’t really get a great deal of context for reason the characters personalities are the way they are, such as Saskia – we don’t really know why she wants to leave her husband, especially as she is so devious it would sense for her to stay with the person who would advance her career – her current husband, but she doesn’t want him. Also we’re not really given a lot on the main characters husband, other than he is very vain and self important.

It was a largely entertaining read, however, and I wouldn’t mind reading others, as I am assured from Amazon reviews this is not the author’s best work. I would recommend for a bit of light holiday reading you can dip in and out of, possibly with a large cocktail, as I assure you; you don’t really need to worry about following anything too complicated.

 

 

The Summer Seaside Kitchen

The Summer Seaside Kitchen

Picture: amazon.co.uk.

 

The Summer Seaside Kitchen – By Jenny Colgan

“Grab some excellent cheese, crackers, and a glass of wine and curl up on a frosty evening” – Heather.

This weeks read was the Summer Seaside Kitchen. Based on the fictional isle of Mure in Scotland, the story focuses on Flora, a young paralegal who seems to have escaped the island to London to persue a professional career, and escape her past.

After a wealthy client needs their help in Mure herself and her stony-faced boss are swept back to the island, where Flora must confront her family, the local villagers and a tragedy that drove her to London. She must convince them to come round to her clients way of thinking, whilst facing her past.

After discovering a notebook of her beloved mother’s precious family recipes, she and her brother woo the wealthy client, the villagers and her closed off boss, Joel, with a feast of local produce, and after opening a certain closed pink fronted shop, an array of cakes, pastries and coffee in the Summer Seaside Kitchen.

Will Flora win her case, win over her boss, and fall in love with more than just the island??

This is a lovely book, and typically of this genre, easy to read with excellent descriptions of the island of Mure (even if it is fictional) and has a real cosiness to the atmosphere. Like others in this bracket, I find myself wanting to read them with a slice of cake and a cup of tea, although for this one a glass of red and some good cheese and crackers works wonders, as there are constant descriptions of the local cheese, butter and pastries that are produced in the dairy farm owned by Flora’s family. It holds an excellent question mark over the busyness of life, and promotes a simpler, rustic outlook, which champions good food, good company, a roaring fire and and a happy dog.

A great book for a weary Friday night when you want to escape….