The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood

Not often do I read a book that takes my breath away. Margaret Atwood has managed to do that twice. First with The Handmaid’s Tale, an absolutely brilliant and imaginative book, and now with The Blind Assassin. Every moment of reading, felt like a luxury, like eating a very rich and creamy dessert. Atwood writes beautifully and has some very inventive descriptions. It’s rare to want to read a sentence for a second time, not because you didn’t understand it, but because you want to savour every word.

The story is of two sisters, Iris and Laura Chase. Iris is now an ‘older woman’ looking back on her life and all the events leading up to her sister’s death at the young age of twenty three. We learn in the very first page that Laura drove a car off a bridge and immediately our interest has been grabbed. Why did she do it? Continue reading

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

So I’ve finally given in and read the very much talked about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And I have to say, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. It’s not particularly well written, it isn’t all that fast paced and the plot doesn’t have many surprising twists.

What I like from a crime thriller is an action packed story full of red herrings, clues that keep you guessing and a huge, shocking twist at the end that makes you utter some sort of surprised ‘oh’ out loud. I got absolutely none of this from Larsson’s very popular thriller. It certainly did not live up to my expectations.

I found it very hard to get into the book. I understand Larsson had to set the scene, but it was very long winded. We are first introduced to Henrik Vanger, the rich ex-head of the Vanger Corporation. Continue reading

Top 5 Memorable Holiday Reads

After recently returning from my holiday in Naples and reading Naples ’44, I got to thinking about some of my most memorable holiday reads. Packing is always difficult when going away, but one of the most important things is to pack the correct books. Everybody has a holiday reading list, usually books they haven’t had time to open and want to be able to fully relax with. If there is one thing I have learnt, it’s that the enjoyable books are not always the most memorable books that you might read on holiday.

Continue reading

Naples ’44 – Norman Lewis

My Neapolitan grandmother (or ‘nonna’ as the Italians would say) married a British officer posted in Naples in 1944. It is quite likely that Norman Lewis, an Intelligence Officer also there at that time, would have had to interview both of my grandparents to judge the suitability of the match. Marriage with Italian civilians was discouraged and lots of officers who applied for permission were turned down and sent away from Naples. So really, my grandparents were lucky.

I have always been interested in my grandmother’s home country and after her death a couple of years ago, I have only ever become more curious about the city she grew up in. After marrying my grandfather, she moved to England and only returned to Naples for holidays a couple of times a year. So when she told stories about Naples, it was always about the ‘old days’ before and during the Second World War. Continue reading

The Autograph Man – Zadie Smith

I haven’t read a book like this for a long time and it was a nice change. Reading Zadie Smith is like a breathe of fresh air with her colloquial and modern style of writing. The dialogue between the characters is believable, even if most of the storyline is a far fetched.

Alex-Li Tandem is an Autograph Man who buys, sells and fakes autographs. He has an unhealthy obsession with a movie star, Kitty Alexander. He is a lazy, self destructive twenty-something, living in a messy apartment, spending his days drinking and smoking too much while watching old films. After waking up one morning with a horrific hangover and no memory of the last couple of days, Alex-Li finds a very special autograph, one that he has been waiting years to receive. But why has it been sent now? And is it really authentic? He travels all the way to New York to find out. Continue reading