This summer we’ve moved house and jobs. I feel like I’ve been packing and unpacking for months. Annoyingly, the things that’s gone (apart from a million books – we’ve downsized considerably on our shelving) is my time to read. I’ve also ignored the blog for so long that I’ve started to dread coming back to it. So here’s my attempt to clear the few reviews I’d hoped to write so that, like teachers everywhere, I can start September afresh. Here are the books I’ve loved during this mad, disjointed summer:
Kate Weinberg’s The Truants was a really enjoyable read, and not just because it’s set in my old university – she doesn’t say it’s UEA but it’s unmistakably the Norwich campus. The Truants has been compared to The Secret History, and I can see why – Jess arrives as an undergrad and is immediately drawn to a more sophisticated group of students. At the core of their relationships is the charismatic teacher Lorna Clay, and what follows for Jess is a heady introduction to a life quite unlike the humdrum middle-class world she has known growing up. Tensions build as loyalties are tested, and Jess is forced to question who she can trust.
The Wind That Lays Waste is a debut novel from Argentina. At only 114 pages long, it is a quick but highly memorable read, and Almada is clearly a writer to be reckoned with already. It’s one of those stories where little actually happens and everything happens. Set in isolated Northern Argentina, the story begins when an evangelist preacher and his teenage daughter arrive at a mechanic’s house looking for their car to be fixed. Set over the course of two days, this is a brilliantly crafted and poignant tale set in a dramatically empty landscape.
I’m late to the Honno party (check out my review of Jane Fraser’s Advent here) but my second author from their catalogue has been all over the blogging world since I arrived a few years ago. Now that I’ve finally got round to reading Wild Spinning Girls, Carol Lovekin is now one of my new favourite authors. Set in atmospheric remote Wales, this tells the story of Ida who arrives to sell a remote house she has been left after the death of her parents. The Cloud House has been lived in by a tenant who has recently died, and it seems that the house isn’t as empty as Ida had been led to believe. This is a brilliant story about finding your place in the world – hurrah for small presses!
And last but certainly not least – Hilary McKay’s The Swallow’s Flight is a YA follow up to the events in The Skylark’s War which I loved a couple of years back. McKay is a writer who can make you smile and tear-up in just a few sentences. The protagonists of The Skylark’s War are now grown up, and we have a new generation of children facing a new threat in Europe. The characters I loved in the first story are back and I have a new favourite too – Kate. I’m hoping we get another instalment so I get to know what happens next to these people McKay makes you care about so much.