Wednesday, May 08, 2013

2013 books, #36-40

Rubbernecker, by Belinda Bauer [audiobook]. Read by Andrew Wincott. Oxford: Isis, 2013.

A man recovering from a coma thinks he's seen a murder.  A student with Asperger's syndrome begins a course in anatomy.  A nurse starts an affair with the husband of one of the other coma patients.  As well as being a really excellently-plotted thriller, this is also a study in our inability to communicate.  In the case of the coma patient, this is a physical thing; in the case of Patrick, the student, a function of his inability to understand people and to make friends.  Excellent and very creepy; and well read by Wincott who's best known for being the voice of Adam Macy in The Archers.

The ghost of Lily Painter, by Caitlin Davies [audiobook]. Read by Annie Aldington, Jilly Bond, Mike Grady and Julie Maisey. Oxford: Isis, 2011.

I saw a reference to this when I was looking up the Finchley Baby Farmers while reading Nicola Upton's Two for sorrow earlier in the year, and I'm extremely glad I did.  I don't know what the audiobook equivalent of unputdownable is, but I listened to all 10 hours over 2 days; the ensemble reading was excellent and it's an extremely well-crafted story covering four generations of a family and a century of secrets, from the death of Queen Victoria to the present day.

Lost cat: a true story of love, desperation and GPS technology, by Caroline Paul.  Illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton. London: Bloomsbury, 2013.

This was lent to me by a lovely colleague who'd borrowed it from Westminster Libraries; and it's a fabulous little book I really wouldn't have come across otherwise.  Caroline Paul had a horrible accident, and then while she was recovering, her cat Tibby went missing.  Weeks later, Tibby suddenly reappeared, but Caroline was desperate to know where he'd been in the meantime; and this is where the GPS technology, and the insanity, creeps in.  This is a lovely little wonder of a book, beautifully and copiously illustrated by Paul's partner Wendy, and containing so much stuff familiar to anyone who's been owned by a cat.  Hilarious, sad and joyful all at the same time.

The moon tunnel, by Jim Kelly [audiobook]. Read by Ray Sawyer. Oxford: Isis, 2008.

A body is found in a tunnel near a former World War II internment camp at Ely; but it turns out to date from the 1970s or 1980s. not the 1940s, and the body seems to be heading into the camp, not out.  Dryden investigates, and becomes embroiled with the history of the Italian community in the area, which leads to the unveiling of many family secrets.  Excellent.

The best of everything, by Rona Jaffe. London: Penguin, 2011. Originally published in 1958.

Rona Jaffe's semi-autobiographical novel is apparently a favourite of Don Draper in Mad men. (Or at least, that's what the reviews say.)  Four young women arrive in New York in 1952 to make their way in the world and find themselves working for a slightly downmarket publishing company.  Radcliffe graduate Caroline is recovering from a broken engagement, ingenue April is initially stunned by the city, actress Gregg has poise but also fragility, and divorcĂ©e Barbara supports her mother and child by writing her beauty column.  And then there are men - lecherous men, treacherous men, weak men, overly nice men... The combination of the modernity of some of the women's attitudes and the continuing desperation to "make a good match" are incongruous, and in some cases exasperating.  I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it, but neither of the other two at my book group were very keen!  (I think this is probably the first book I've read with a pair of legs in tights and high heels on the cover since briefly dipping my toe into the murky water of Jackie Collins as a teenager.)

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