Great to read at the moment….
March 10th, 2011
I find it hard to read other novels when I am on the finishing stretch of writing one, and I know other novelists feel the same way. So one of the great treats of finishing writing a book -The Empty Nesters, out September 2011 – is the chance to start reading again.
First I thought I’d see if Sarah Blake’s The Postmistress lived up to its hype. It did. It is one of those novels you can almost taste, it’s so atmospheric, and the power of the story drew me through. I didn’t quite ‘get’ the last letter, though, although you’ll have to read it to see if you agree with me.
Next up was Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, in its new jacket to coincide with the film. I often find myself avoiding ‘literary’ prize-winners, as I sometimes feel that novelty and tricksiness is allowed to triumph over good storytelling. Some ‘difficult’ books seem difficult for the sake of it, as if they’re showing off how much cleverer they are than the reader. Well, Never Let Me Go is neither difficult nor tricksy. It’s a beautifully crafted story, which stays absolutely true to itself from start to finish. Ishiguro creates an apparently tranquil everyday world which is underpinned by the horrifying concept of human beings who are created for spare parts. This is excellence in writing. Clear, true, imaginative -it’s what novels were made to do: unravel some of the mysteries of the human spirit.
Now I’m on Dorothy Koomson’s The Woman He Loved Before. Her books are focussed on contemporary relationships, and this is an area that can be dismissed as ‘chick lit’, but Koomson is evolving into a complex and compelling writer. I’m only half way along, so I’ll complete this review later, but I do really want to know what happens, which, to me, is the essence of a good novel.
I’ll be back soon.