There are times when you just want to relax with a book, when you want to be transported to another place or time and to go where life just works for everyone. Such a time came to me mid-December with the Christmas rush, reading The Narrow Road to the Deep North and the Martin Place siege.
Nearly a year ago, a friend lent me Foolish Mortals by Jennifer Johnston – a noted Irish writer, apparently. This was light relief set in modern Ireland though it dealt with some serious topics such as the impact of divorce on offspring, homosexuality, senility and estrangement from family, there is cheerfulness about the book I enjoyed in a strange madcap way. The final scene where Grandma dies just before Christmas lunch and falls into the Christmas tree breaking the baubles just about sums it up.
I then turned to a ‘cosy mystery’: the detective stories that take place around such ‘cosy’ activities such as knitting or quilting. Knit Fast, Die Young by Mary Kruger is an excellent example of its type as was The First Stitch by Penelope Stitchworthy.
Favouring something a little stronger I turned to Sue Grafton’s series with Kinsey Malone. I was up to K is for Killer. While Kinsey gets into some tight situations you know she survives, as there are more letters of the alphabet to go.
There is a series of books currently popular where a failing business is taken over by a young woman at a low point in her personal life and everything turns out OK. Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements is one such book. It’s very pleasant light reading. Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Coglan is a pleasant read with more depth and humour.
I love Liz Byrski’s writing and added Food, Sex & Money to the books of hers that I’ve read. Liz’s books cannot be dismissed as light reading as she examines closely what it is likes to be an older woman and the issues of our society. Grief and humour mix as a keen eye is fixed on character, places and situations. I always feel Liz Byrski has eavesdropped on my conversations.
Tess Evans has written a book about interesting characters in the Australian town of Opportunity. While she deals with a variety of issues – the loss of children at birth in the 40s and 50s, domestic violence, donor parenting, dying country towns – there is warmth and humanity in her writing, Book of Lost Threads is a thoughtful but not depressing book, and it does all work out in the end.
What have been your great reads of the summer?