Happily I seem to have fully returned to a more normal reading pace and enjoyment, finishing a total of 13 books for November. The cloud in the middle of that silver lining is that it makes choosing my book of the month that much more difficult as virtually all of them were good and several were outstanding. I am sharing the title between two novels though, both written by Australian women (you go girls)
Caroline Overington’s SISTERS OF MERCY is the story of two sisters who grew up half a world apart from each other and who did not learn of each other’s existence until their father died when they were both mature adults. I have not stopped reflecting on this book since finishing it a couple of weeks ago and each time I think of a different theme or idea it explored – the relative roles of nature vs nurture in the adults we become, how public outrage is easily manufactured but practical assistance in mending the broken things that are the subject of that outrage is in short supply and so on.
Favel Parrett’s PAST THE SHALLOWS is the story of three boys growing up in an isolated part of Tasmania (which in itself is as isolated a part of the planet as you can find). The shocking thing is that it’s not a crime novel and I loved it anyway. Its lyrical quality and the fact it managed to be sad without making me feel depressed is something to celebrate. I’ll be reading this one again before long am already wondering who to buy copies for at Christmas time.
Among the other books I read for the month were:
- Kathryn Fox’s COLD GRAVE which put a forensic physician on a luxury cruise liner in international waters and then started killing off her fellow passengers. It’s a tense thriller that has to make a person think twice about taking a cruise
- Allegra Goodman’s INTUITION which made the humble science lab come alive with tension as we wonder if a researcher has faked the data behind the results of his new cancer drug’s performance
- Tara Moss said farewell to her Mak Vanderwall series in style by having Mak chased across the globe by a hired killer while her former lover searches for a copy cat killer in Sydney in ASSASSIN
- Val McDermid’s THE VANISHING POINT offered an unexpectedly poignant portrait of a reality television star amidst a horror kidnap scenario
- Betty Webb’s DESERT WIVES is a little light on mystery but jam-packed full of insight into the grim world of compounds in which fundamentalist polygamists keep women and children in all kinds of servitude
- Cath Staincliffe’s SPLIT SECOND offers three perspectives on a needless violent death, including one from an innocent bystander too terrified to intervene. I have not been able to forget Emma’s plight.
- Michael Robotham’s SAY YOU’RE SORRY is a harrowing account of the kidnap and imprisonment of two teenage girls, half of which is told in the voice of one of the girls. A difficult but worthwhile read
- AMUSE BOUCHE by Anthony Bidulka is a light but enjoyable and intelligent whodunnit set in Saskatoon, Canada.
My non reviewing posts were thin on the ground this month but did include a rant about the labelling of books as women’s fiction. I think publishers are doing the men of the world a disservice by doing this as many of the topics raised by these kinds of books are universally interesting and I am sure there are plenty of men who would enjoy them only they’ll never even know about them because they’re pink and only ever appear in Mother’s Day catalogues.
In December I’ve got a couple more books by Australian women I want to finish but I must admit my brain is already starting to switch off in preparation for the first break longer than 3 days I’ll have had all year.
Got any recommendations of light (but clever) books I ought to read?
Was November a good reading month for you? What was your best read?
Are you winding down for the end of the year or cramming in as many books as you can for these last few weeks?