The end of January sees the end of the long summer holiday period when the crowds of tourists have departed and a feeling of normality once more descends upon the coast. Summer is my time for relaxing in the coolest place I can find and just reading. How good it is not to feel guilty because I spend long hours with my nose in a book! And what a variety I have enjoyed - from short stories, to historical fiction to YA romance and a detective with a difference. It has been a stimulating month. So my news this month will be mainly about books and I have some good ones to recommend to you.
All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
There have been many books based on life in Europe during World War II but here, Anthony Doerr has written a stand out prize winner. Literally! Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize and remaining on the NYT best seller list for more than two and a half years, this book, which was ten years in the writing, is one of the most moving books I have read in a long time.
Although it alternates between time periods as well as points of view, it is always in the present tense which, along with the short chapters, makes it hard to put down and adds to a sense of urgency for the reader to want to know more.
The two main characters are Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, and Werner, a young German orphan with an unexpected talent for repairing and building radios. Both are both portrayed with great depth and understanding as is Marie-Laure’s father. He senses the importance of imparting to his daughter as much independence and capability as he can. How he does this in a time when she has nothing more than a cane and her intelligence to rely on is a source of great admiration. Is there some personal experience there I wonder?
As he read it, my artist husband made the comment, ‘each chapter is like a painting … a scene that tells a story.’ I have to agree, it is vividly described, much of it though Marie-Laure’s sense of touch. It is a long book, and beautifully written with the various characters all coming to life on the page and blending together well. It was the first book I read in 2018. If that book is the standard for the rest of my reading year, I have an interesting year ahead.
The First Rule of Ten - Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay.
One of the things I like about having this website is when people get in touch with a comment or book recommendation. This was how I discovered a new and very different detective – Tenzig Norbu. It took me a while before I managed to get around to reading this, the first in a series, but then I became so addicted to this unusual man I read the first three books within a couple of weeks. A Tibetan ex-monk and latterly of the LA Police Department, Tenzig has decided to go it alone as a private detective – or at least with a little help from his friends. Set in modern day Los Angeles, how Ten tries to balance his life between a modern world of crime and still remain true to his religious upbringing and beliefs makes a riveting read. At times humorous and at times reflective, the authors have created a character who is not just another smart-aleck, know-it-all detective, but one who is very human and who manages to bring home life lessons to us all while keeping us entertained with a gripping mystery. I thank you Anne for your recommendation.
It’s not unusual for dedicated readers to sit with a dictionary alongside them to look up any unknown words they come across. But in this modern day we can go one step further. Both these books were in settings I did not know so I found myself with my iPad close by and regularly referring to Google Earth to get a better picture of the locations. How brilliant is this tool? To be able to go down to street level and virtually walk through the places mentioned really brings them to life. ‘The First Rule of Ten’ is set in modern day Los Angeles and I could easily find the streets and places mentioned – even some of the buildings.
Although ‘The Light’ is set during WWII, the damaged town of St. Malo in France, has been rebuilt to retain the original charm. Again, I could take a virtual walk through the streets and along the beach and picture the characters as they go about their lives. Much is said about the negative side of modern technology, but when it works for you it is pure magic.
February and March see the beginning of my ‘Write your Personal Story’ presentations and I am so impressed by the practical support that our local library is giving. Check out the poster they have put together for me. I feel quite privileged to have been given this opportunity and hope most sincerely that those who come along feel it worthwhile and are inspired to write their own family story. As I say, family history is a perishable commodity and if we don’t keep our stories alive, they will end with our generation. If you live on the Sunshine Coast and would like to come along to one of my sessions, please get in touch with the library that suits you best and make a reservation. The dates and locations are on my Speaking page.
That’s all for now. See you next time.