But these were great too:
You could sort of say this novel has changed my life. I had no idea adult ballet lessons existed, and now I do, and I take them twice a week, and it’s wonderful. I know: I’m as surprised as anyone else is by this turn of events. Anyway, that’s beside the pointe (ballet is so punnable, it’s one of my favourite things about it). This book is a fascinating world into the world of dance, through the eyes of a jaded, cynical, ageing (so, mid twenties maybe?) ballerina whose acerbic voice reflects this jadedness and cynicism so well, in such a pleasurable way. Kate Crane’s sister is also a dancer, and they have a highly dysfuctional relationship, in large part because of (possible) mental health issues. This was one of those unputdownable books – especially if you love a deep dive into the mind of a brilliantly drawn character. Bonus: the author was herself a dancer, so you know that everything about that world is (wait for it) on pointe.
In the summer of 1957, Frances and Bernard meet at an artists’ colony. She finds him faintly ridiculous, but talented. He sees her as aloof, but intriguing. Afterward, he writes her a letter. Soon they are immersed in the kind of fast, deep friendship that can take over—and change the course of—our lives.
This is a lovely, heartbreaking epistolary novel. I like these quieter books that explore the nooks and crannies of human relationships, particularly those of the will-they-won’t-they variety. All the better if the deeper questions of faith are involved, which they are here. Oh, and lots of New York. Basically, if you liked Christina Haag’s Come To The Edge (which, if you’ve ever talked to me about books, you will be sick of hearing about), you will probably really enjoy this too. The writing is lovely.
Speaking of lovely writing… my goodness, this book. Every sentence feels like a poem, but in a really readable, non-pretentious way. I wasn’t sure about reading it – I’m not a huge fan of World War II novels, mainly because of the impending sense of doom and certain knowledge that all the characters I will come to know and love are likely to suffer horribly and/or die horrendous deaths, but when my book club picked this one, I succumbed to the hype surrounding his book. (Another reason I was hesitant to try it, to be honest.) I’m so glad I did – it’s long, but beautiful, and sucks you into the worlds of Marie-Laure, a blind girl, in Saint-Malo, and Werner, a super-talented German boy, whose link is the wonder and magic of radio and its role in World War II.
And now for something completely different, though if you know me and my obsession with politics and political fiction, you won’t be surprised at all. This one is a YA novel about a teenage girl who finds herself at the centre of a media storm when the Republican nominee for President turns up at her house one day and announces he is her father. You certainly don’t have to a political junkie – or, come to think of it, really to know anything about American politics – to empathise and wonder about that predicament, along with the pressures of insta-family and all that entails. The blurb says Aaron Sorkin meets The Princess Diairies on this one – Aaron Sorkin’s named invoked, I suspect, mainly to draw in the likes of me (and hey, it worked). I really enjoyed it: it was the perfect beach read for me – a well told, surprising, non-clichéd, compelling story with vivid characters at its heart.
What are your favourite reads of the year so far?