There were several books published in February that look interesting which, of course, adds to the ever growing to-be-read list. Here is a smattering of them:
Coral Glynn by Peter Cameron: Cameron is the author of several novels including Andorra and The Weekend. Cameron states on his website that he is heavily influenced by such writers as Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Taylor, and Penelope Mortimer. His latest work is a period piece set in the 1950’s. Coral is a nurse who travels to the English Midlands to help nurse a dying old woman. Also in the house is the woman’s son, a war veteran and a closeted homosexual. Clement, the son eventually asks Coral to marry him and having no family or romantic experience, she says yes. This spare novel is about delusion, alienation, duplicity, manners, and love – how it appears and how the emotion itself can transform within a relationship.
Newspaper and Book Blog Reviews
From NPR: Some novels hit you twice: while you’re caught in their spell, and then again, after you’ve finished and are left wondering, What was that all about?…In retrospect, Cameron’s mesmerizing, melancholy novel is not as pat as it seems. And that’s where it really gets interesting.
From The Wall Street Journal: …is spare and unassuming. Mr. Cameron announces his talent in the way that matters: by telling a riveting tale with an often heartbreakingly pure prose style…It is as though he has set an X-ray machine before the traditional English drawing room, leaving its demure occupants exposed in their loneliness and well-meant follies—and revealing them as movingly human.
From Shelf Awareness: At first glance, Coral Glynn, Peter Cameron’s moody 1950s British countryside novel, is like a painting by Magritte: the disparate parts don’t go together in any conventional way, but when you look at it for a while, the internal logic becomes apparent.
From It’s Either Sadness or Euphoria: This novel has all of the makings of the novels of days gone by—death, suspicion, misunderstandings, unrequited love (in many forms), disparity between classes, secrets, and intriguing characters.
Me and You by Niccolo Ammaniti and translated by Kylee Doust. Ammaniti is a literary star in Italy with bestsellers and works made into film. Me and Youhas sold over 600,000 copies in Italy alone and is also being made into a film. It is a short work about a fourteen year-old misfit with no friends and parents who worry about his strangeness. He lies to his parents that he has been invited to a ski week and sets up camp in the basement. His half-sister, who has issues of her own, discovers him in the basement and they form an uneasy alliance.
Newspaper and Book Blog Reviews:
From The Independent: Ammaniti’s prose is a delight. Spare and undecorated, it nevertheless manages to entertain with vivid phrases and imagery…The ending is shockingly potent, though unanswered questions abound about the 10 years in between. A dynamite novella, it leaves the reader craving more.
From Fiction and More: This is one of those books that somehow manage, in an almost magical way, to steal a reader’s heart; and that not so much because of their myth, but because of the prose; a prose that sounds tender, almost nostalgic, and which every now and then seems to converse with the silence and the psyches
From Baltimore Reads: Me and You culminates in a scene that is both heartbreaking and believable – a wonderful combination for a novel…For anyone looking for a quick read that is still full of depth and emotion, Me and You would be a great book to pick up. Ammaniti has won awards and recognition in the past for his writing (I’m Not Scared; As God Commands) and this book doesn’t disappoint.
Five Bells by Gail Jones: A single day at Sydney’s Circular Quay and four individuals each reflecting on their life and their losses. This book is not for people who like plot-driven narratives. But if you, like me, relish quiet character propelled novels that deal with memory, the movement of time, life, and loss – this one will be on your list.
Newspaper and Book Blog Reviews
From The Independent: Ultimately, though, this is a story peopled by achingly real characters, memorably related in delicate, ornate prose, and throbbing with loss. Death comes to claim us all, it seems to say, so enjoy the transient glory of life while you can.
From Popmatters: Each of these characters is obsessed with some element of his or her past, and the way they envision the opera house foreshadows how they will cope with “waking into the visionary present.” Though it is thinly plotted, Five Bells makes beautiful work of showing how our preoccupations with our pasts can usurp the place of the meaning inherent to new experiences. The characters are looking for something new without realizing that nothing can ever really be new…The effect of its poetic prose is, ironically, to stimulate the reader intellectually. It does one thing, and it does it very well: it explores the feeling we have of never being quite present, and whether it is possible to move forward by moving backwards. It is precise and effective, and deserves to be taken for what it is, for us to read it meditatively, not looking ahead to guess what will happen, but finding where it resonates with us here and now.
From The Compulsive Reader: Like the epic poem from which it takes its title, Gail Jones’ Five Bells is a story about a series of inner illuminations or moments…ones’ prose is delicate and richly poetic, always moving behind and beneath the superficial to not only get at the emotions and thought processes of her characters, but also at the memories of the past that illuminate the present.
Other Releases of Note:
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – 1920’s Alaska, a childless couple, a magical child made of snow
Half-Blood Blues by Esi Eddugyan – Winner of The Giller Prize and finalist for The Booker Prize. Three black Jazz musicians trying to survive in Paris during the war. One is arrested by the Nazis – a study in what happened and who is culpable.
Ragnarok: The End of the Gods by A.S. Byatt – A young girl (during the Blitz in England) discovers the myths of the Asgard Gods.
Watergate: A Novel by Thomas Mallon – a fictionalized account of Watergate through the eyes of seven people.