Saturday, 23 January 2016

A review of the review


So I'm ready for my Saturday treat of reading the paper at my leisure rather than glancing headlines on my phone while preparing breakfast, dressing children and testing spellings! 
In this week's review section of the Guardian, Kate Clanchy writes about Helen Dunmore's new novel "Exposure". I'm a Dunmore fan and have enjoyed all her books; they are always a reliable choice as the writing is good, sometimes there are sinister twists or chilling atmospheres and the characters are convincing and often live on beyond when you've finished the pages. She seems to be continuing with her interest in war and spies seen in "The Siege", "The Lie" and "The Greycoat" with "Exposure" as it is set in 1960's London during the height of the Cold War. It echoes themes from Nesbit's "The Railway Children": a father is arrested for being a spy, the family have to move to the countryside and face poverty and questions about their father and their family relationships. But in this retelling, it is from the view point of the adults and set in a very different world from that of Nesbit's Edwardian England which will provide a much more thrilling and sinister environment for what Clancy describes as a "surprising and fulfilling" read which will "haunt you for months, if not years." It's definitely going on my "want to read" list. 
Philip Hensher has written a 10 point guide to "War and Peace". I am embarrassed to confess I have not read this epic tale - I have downloaded the current BBC adaptation but not yet psyched myself up to watching it despite the rave reviews I hear all around me. I was heartened by Hensher's conviction that if you "get past the first 100 pages you will read it in 10 days maximum." Sounds like a challenge to me! 
In the roundup of paperback fiction, "Nobody is Ever Missing" by Catherine Lacey is reviewed. I recognise this title from my list of "to read" books so was interested to see the Guardian had also picked it out. It is the story of Elyria who leaves her life in New York for the rural New Zealand without telling anyone and her journey through the backwaters also becomes an exploration of her mental and emotional self and past. Goodreads has rated it a respectable 3.37 with over 2,000 ratings saying it is "full of mordant humour and uncanny insights" and the Guardian says it is a novel of "uncomfortable power". It may not be easy reading but it sounds interesting. 
And I managed to complete the crossword with only minimal assistance from Google so all in all a satisfying afternoon! 




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