The month of July seemed to pass in a flash. Most of the Willoughby team have had some holidays here and there throughout the month, so we've been ships in the night with not much time to chat amongst ourselves about what we've been reading. All of us are united in our loathing of having time, but having nothing to read, so you can be sure we were well prepared. Whatever our intentions, we certainly weren't able to read outside in idyllic settings with the wet weather that has been lashing the country all month! Here's hoping August (or September?) might give us a few fine days to get outside without fear of a soaking. Until then, here's what we've been reading.
The Happy Couple by Naoise Dolan
I thoroughly enjoyed Naoise Dolan's first book, Exciting Times, so was keen to get my hands on this one. Plus, it has been blurbed by Marian Keyes and I always trust her word on books!
Five characters are linked by the wedding they are due to attend, but will it go ahead?
This is written with sparse precision, and it is very funny too. Whilst I don't feel as though I'm in the target age range for this novel I loved the style of her writing, and am in awe of her wry observations on modern relationships and romance. Wise, funny, and so very sharp, but light enough to be read in one sitting, this is a perfect book if you're in a bit of a reading rut. I can't wait to read more books by Naoise Dolan, what talent.
Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties by Tom O’Neill
This book wouldn’t be for everyone, but it is a fantastic example of investigative non-fiction, that delves into one of the most infamous crimes of the twentieth century. It took O’Neill many, many years to complete and the result is a propulsive, page-turning piece that follows several threads of inquiry, posing questions about the validity of several accepted narratives related to the Manson ‘Family’. Using Manson as the jumping off point, this is so much more than a true crime book. If you’re interested in popular history, Hollywood, and the political landscape of America in the late 1960s, I’d highly recommend this.
Call the Canaries Home by Laura Barrow.
This is a story of three estranged sisters coming together in their hometown of Louisiana. When Savannah was 4, her twin sister Georgia vanished from the small town where they lived. Twenty-eight years later, Savannah and her two older estranged sisters Rayanne and Sue Ellen reconnect to dig up a time capsule they buried in their old backyard. In it, they find a photo from ‘that day’ and spot a familiar face. Although her sisters want to move on, Savannah is determined to find the person in the photograph, hoping it will provide answers of her missing sister.
This is a really charming story of family, love, loss and a bit of mystery too.
I really enjoyed the small Southern town setting of this book, and I always enjoy stories told from different points of view and split timelines.
Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulker
This story follows Helen and her seemingly perfect life. Finally falling pregnant, she attends her first antenatal class. When her husband drops out at the last minute, Helen befriends outspoken, intense single-mother Rachel, but Rachel starts popping up everywhere and as Helen gets to know her more, she realises that Rachel already knows everything about Helen, her husband, her friends and her life...
Quite a dark & creepy, and at times uncomfortable, read.
I seem to gravitate toward books told from different character's points of view and differing timelines, and this is another.
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
A collection of weird and wonderful short stories, Oyeyemi had me hooked from the first story! All the stories are connected through the theme of unlocking a different element in each of the characters lives and the promise of what they’ll find on the other side. Spanning multiple times and landscapes, these tales tease the boundaries between existing realities.
I really enjoy magical realism and Helen Oyeyemi doesn’t disappoint! I loved how the characters in each of the nine stories were slightly interwoven through the theme of keys and things needing to be unlocked because of curiosity. Slightly surreal and a bit strange, I had fun diving into this book and leaving the real world for a little while.