Monday, March 16, 2009

2009 books, #10-14

If you get an incomplete copy of this post via Bloglines do click on the link. Blogger published the first half and binned the second...

Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi. London: Vintage, 2008.

This is the first graphic novel I've read all the way through - I tend to get defeated halfway through, so reading this for the March Kniterati meeting was great. I read a lot about the Islamic Revolution at the time, having been the sort of teenager who reads the papers (and being at a school which actually provided them in the library - I'm not sure how that was achieved; maybe teachers donated their own copies...) but that's very different from a first-person account from someone only a couple of years younger. The group generally enjoyed it but felt a bit alienated from Satrapi herself; we couldn't work out whether we felt blocked out because she was a teenager, or because she'd been through this terrible experience, or just a bit of everything; but it was very interesting and I was extremely glad I'd read it.

The bodies left behind, by Jeffery Deaver. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2008.

I love Deaver. I love the way he pulls the rug out from under you at one point, or more, in each book; I love the pace; I love the spareness of the prose. This one was... odd. I think it was the balance of the thing - three-quarters of it happens over one night of frantic chasing in Wisconsin forests and the rest over a longer period of time. But it's a cracking read, as ever... (It's not a Lincoln Rhyme, for Rhyme fans)

Cromartie v. the god Shiva acting through the government of India, by Rumer Godden. London: Macmillan, 1997.

I don't know why I didn't really get into the mood of this book - it ought to have been good, Rumer Godden writing about India. It might have been the inconclusive or downright incomprehensible dénouement, or I may just have been in the wrong mood at the time, but I completely failed to engage with this one...

The vows of silence, by Susan Hill. London: Chatto and Windus, 2008.

The Simon Serrailler novels are simultaneously claustrophobic, infuriating and utterly un-put-downable. The detective element (although well-plotted and -paced) takes second place to Hill's ability to draw characters and expose the tragedies of everyday lives, and never more than in the latest two books in this series. This is a superb novel whether or not you're interested in detective fiction; and a perfect one for Lent - there are shafts of brilliant light in the dark, and there's a lot to think about; Hill "does God" with a light and deft touch. I would recommend starting at the beginning of the sequence though, with The various haunts of men, to fully understand what's going on.

devil bones, by Kathy Reichs. London: Heinemann, 2008.

Reichs's consistency amazes me. She's frequently compared to Patricia Cornwell, but I've always enjoyed her characters and settings more, not least the Montréal settings of some of her 11 books; I was slightly disappointed to find this one was set entirely in North Carolina after my trip to her other locale last year, but it turned out not to matter too much after all. I took a while to get into this one but once I did, it rocketed along very interestingly; and had interesting things to say about santeria and Wicca. I'd probably start at the beginning of this sequence, too, with Déjà Dead, for the biographical detail; doesn't matter quite so much for the detective content though...

1 comment:

Daisy said...

Spent half of today talking about Susan Hill - guess where her archive is?!
Thanks for the reviews - I love finding out what people I know thought!