I'm not sure why it works like this, but as soon as the light, bright summer months arrive I am afire with enthusiasm for sewing projects and happy to settle down with some audio books as I stitch. In previous years I have been making gifts for the guests in the tent at Port Eliot, last year I hand quilted Blue Moon and this year it is more projects various. And with them I have listened to some wonderful books. Now I don't take notes so all this will be on a wing and a prayer and some general impressions.
Catching up on last year I don't think I wrote much about A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson at the time, but the book has stayed with me and having been a bit ambivalent about Life After Life it was all change and nothing but awe and wonderment for A God in Ruins. I am very tempted, now that a year has passed, to read this one....if you have read it can you tell me...does it read well too?
It seems a daft question when a book is this good.
"A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.
This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction.Those who loved the bestselling Life After Life will recognise Teddy as Ursula Todd’s adored younger brother – but for those who have not read it, A God in Ruins stands fully on its own. Few will dispute that it proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the most exceptional novelists of our age."
I was completely in thrall to the plot and the narration, had no problem following its twists and turns and time frame and have to say (and I rarely comment on these things nowadays) that the book's absence from this year's Bailey's Prize short list leaves me very puzzled indeed.
Ah well, ours is not to reason why, judges choices on the day etc.
Have I mentioned that I also listened to The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon?
Two young girls solving a mystery in the sweltering summer of 1976 and another good listen with Paula Willcocks narrating.
Happy to repeat an encounter with the writing of Kate Atkinson I kicked off this year's summer stitching by listening to the third Jackson Brodie novel When Will There Be Good News? and was gripped all over again.
This is what I want from an audio book. I want to feel excited about my next sit-down-and-listen session.
A young girl surviving the murder of her mother and siblings grows up to be a GP in Edinburgh. It took a while for me to connect it all up, but slowly the clues emerged, I was in the loop and when Jackson Brodie boards a train traveling in the wrong direction and finds himself a victim in a catastrophic rail crash in Edinburgh and meanwhile the murderer is released from prison, the action really starts to wind up. There are clever connections and plot threads to be woven and all readily followed by ear.
Next up was the very enjoyable Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh, but thoughts coming in a separate post because it's a nice excuse for some lovely New Zealand pictures.
And now...and I don't quite know how this has happened... I am completely, utterly and totally hooked on Ian Rankin and Rebus.
Ye Gods, where have I been all this time..
What has taken me so long to discover the wonderful Inspector Rebus...
Edinburgh-based detective, ex SAS, deeply traumatised, broken marriage, ex-wife an English teacher, a pre-teenage daughter, but, and here's the different twist on the usual misery, Rebus is an avid reader but also a believer, a man of faith and it all came as quite a surprise. A Christian who reads the Bible sitting up in his hospital bed (yes, of course he ends up in hospital after a mysterious collapse in a compromising situation) and who wanders around the churches and congregations of Edinburgh trying to find one that he feels comfortable with. He is no saint, but he prays and berates his failings and it all adds something very unusual to the traditional detective mix and I like it.
Knots and Crosses proved to be a sensible place to start, with plenty of back story filled in as an old comrade comes back to haunt and taunt Rebus and I now can't wait to start on number two, Hide and Seek.
If you have read or listened to any of these I would love to know your thoughts...
After my reading fail and audio success with David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet I am wondering whether to try Black Swan Green. It's another book I just haven't managed to get into to but want to. What's the verdict...
And any more Inspector Rebus fans out there...
Any more good audio books to recommend...
I need to sort out the iPod and the car radio (how do I do that?) because we could listen to these all the way to Orkney and back.