I haven’t had as much time as I’d like for reading lately, but I have had quite a good run of it with the books I’ve been buying, so it seemed selfish to keep them all to myself, really.
These are the last four books I’ve read, and, luckily for me, every one of them was a good ‘un. You know the kind of book you just kind of sink into for hours, and have to be dragged unwillingly out of, for some pesky chore, like eating, or sleeping, or any one of the other things in life that are not reading? The kind of book where you find yourself saying to your other half, “Oh, I just have to nip to the loo: back in a minute!” but you’re really just off upstairs to sneakily read another few pages of your book? They were THAT kind of book.
Before I start talking about them in more detail, though, let me just quickly caveat this post by saying that although I’ll happily read almost anything, I do have a preference for the gothic. Think Jayne Eyre/Rebecca/anything by Kate Morton, and you’ve basically got my bookshelf. Not all of these books fit into that particular genre, but, well, most of them do, and particularly the first one, which is…
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Thirteenth Tale is probably one of the best known modern gothic novels around, so I’ve absolutely NO idea why it’s taken me so long to get around to reading it, but I DO know that I absolutely loved it. Like, waking-up-early-just-to-squeeze-in-a-few-more-pages loved it. This is the story of aspiring biographer, Margaret Lea, who is charged with writing the biography of reclusive novelist, Vida Winter. Vida promises to tell Margaret the truth about her life: a truth which takes us back to her childhood, at the now ruined Angelfield House.
“Does the old house have a chilling secret?” asked Terry, who knows me all too well when it comes to my taste in novels. And, unsurprisingly, YES: Angelfield House DOES have a chilling secret! But I’m afraid you’re going to have to read the book to find out what it is…
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
I read The Husband’s Secret, also by Liane Moriarty, a couple of years ago, and really enjoyed it, so I figured it was probably time to try another of her books. Somewhat unusually for me, this is a modern story, and no, there’s no mysterious old house in it. Instead, there’s one woman – the Alice of the title – who falls and bangs her head during a step class at the gym (This is why I avoid gyms like the plague, just FYI…), and loses the last ten years of her memory as a result. If that description sounds like I’m setting the scene for a hilarious, slapstick kinda comedy, don’t worry: while there is some humour to it, this is actually quite a thought-provoking book, which basically asks you to consider what your younger self would think of your life now. That’s the situation Alice finds herself in, after all: she wakes up thinking she’s the same person she was a decade ago, only to find that both she, and the people she loves, have changed in ways she couldn’t even have imagined. I found the basic premise of this book fascinating, and it definitely lived up to expectations, so I’ve earmarked some more of Liane’s books for future consumption!
Amy Snow by Tracy Rees
This book kept coming up in my Amazon recommendations, and I snobbishly kept ignoring it, because of the “Richard & Judy Bestseller!” line that always accompanies it. Then I remembered that I normally LIKE Richard & Judy’s recommendations, so I had a firm word with myself, bought the book, and didn’t look back. This one tells the story of – can you guess? Yes! It’s a girl called Amy Snow! Abandoned as a baby, and raised as the poor companion of the wealthy Aurelia Vennaway (Sidenote: isn’t that an awesome name?), Amy’s life is thrown into turmoil when Aurelia’s death sees her thrown out on her ear. Fortunately, though, Aurelia has left Amy with a challenge: a treasure hunt in which Amy must follow the clue’s in Aurelia’s letters, to find… what?
Again, I’m not going to give the game away here: I did actually guess what the big secret was in this book, as it’s pretty clearly signposted, but I still enjoyed it, and found myself reminded a bit of Jayne Eyre…which is odd, really, because Amy isn’t a governess, there’s no madwoman in the attic, and there’s definitely no Mr Rochester. Oh well, we can’t have everything, can we?
Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase
So, this one IS about an old house with a secret – as you can probably tell from the title. This is yet another one of those “mystery from the past is solved in the present” ones (I’d apologise for reading so many of these, but, well, I DID warn you…), and if you like Kate Morton’s books, you’ll probably enjoy this one, too. I felt that the characters in the modern-day storyline weren’t quite as well-developed or interesting as the ones from the past, and there was a bit of suspension of disbelief involved in the first few chapters, but it was still a good read, and one of the characters is called Amber, which always tickles me (Yes, I’m a child), so there’s that, too.
Oh, and speaking of people called Amber (Awkward segue is awkward…), even although it makes me feel like a bit of an asshole, I don’t think I can really write a post about books without also recommending my own, which is currently available to download from Amazon. I don’t THINK you can get lost in it, but if you do, just let me know, and I’ll do my best to guide you back out…