‘The Husband’s Secret’ by Liane Moriarty – highly enjoyable

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This was one of those books that I wanted to read in one sitting. It gripped me from beginning to end and was a real page-turner.

Cecilia is a

housewife with 3 children and a loving husband (John Paul) but one day she discovers a letter in the attic with instructions that it is only to be opened in the event of John-Paul’s death.

When she opens it, her whole world is changed by the secret revealed in it.

What is so captivating about this story is the way it explores the reactions of characters to the twists and turns in their lives, leaving the reader wondering how we would respond to the situation; would we make the same decisions as the characters?

As for negatives? One thing that did bother me was the presentation of a perfect ‘suburbia’ of the kind we might imagine from the 1950s (I mean, does anyone really have tupperware parties any more?). I suppose it was there to highlight that even the most mundane surroundings can hide dark secrets, but at times it just didn’t seem to ring entirely true, and the thought of someone having nothing better to do than arrange her entire pantry using perfectly selected tupperware is just plain odd if you ask me!

However, that small problem aside, it was a thoroughly enjoyable book and one I would definitely recommend.

‘The Shock of the Fall’ Nathan Filer – just brilliant!

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‘The Shock of the fall’ Nathan Filer.

 

In the interview questions at the end of this book, the author states that the one thing he would like the reader to take away from this novel is ‘A desire to share it.’ In which case, he should count himself successful (in my case anyway), as I will be sharing with everyone just how much I loved this story.

 

At times tragic and moving, at times funny, it is beautifully written and tells the story of Matt, who has schizophrenia, from his own point of view. The shifts in narrative, font, style and even between the written word and images support this so well, and I became immersed in the life of the narrator.

 

It is easy to see why this won the Costa Book of the Year, although I would also probably say that the blurb on the back doesn’t fully do justice to the book itself – it focuses so much on quotes about it being moving that I thought it was just going to be about grief, and it is actually far more wide-ranging than that.

 

A brilliant novel, I will definitely be recommending and sharing it.

 

‘Northanger Abbey’ by Val McDermid

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This is the second book in The Austen Project, which aims to update all of Jane Austens novel, each one written by a different contemporary author. I was particularly looking forward to this one as ‘Northanger Abbey’ is probably my favourite Austen novel.

The story itself holds up well in the updating process. Cat Morland is a seventeen year old obsessed with vampire stories, and when she visits the Edinburgh Fringe festival with family friends, she can’t help but develop suspicions about the mysterious Tilneys, which are heightened when she is invited to their home, Northanger Abbey.

Of course, you can’t discuss ‘Northanger Abbey’ without mentioning the Thorpes who are probably the most enjoyable characters in the story. Flirtatious Isabella is reimagined as Bella, just as flirty, but with the added bonus of social media… and John Thorpe is obsessed with fast cars and his own brilliance (in his mind anyway).

I would say this was an enjoyable book; one I didn’t need to think about too much in order to enjoy. I suppose my only issue with both of the Austen project books I’ve read so far, is that they don’t live up to the original. But maybe that is just a little too much to ask of anyone.