To be honest I’ve not been much of a reader in the past, if someone recommended a book to me I would probably take the time to read it, or when on holiday I’ll pick up a couple of good reads in the airport and devour them while sunbathing on my sun lounger. There are a few books which have made a lasting impression on me, for example Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, The Firm by John Grisham and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, are but a few of the books which have had an impacted on me.
Yet in truth the time I’ve spent reading has been limited. I know it’s a sin for someone who professes to want to be a writer, not to take time to read, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve done much of it in the past.
There was one advantage, to not being an avid reader, when starting to write, I developed my own unique writing style and made no attempt to mimic anyone else’s. However, I do have to admit there are more disadvantages if your attempting to develop your writing skills and haven’t taken the time to read the works of some great writers and possibly a few bad writers as well, at least with the bad one’s you’ll learn how not to write.
With this thought in mind I decided I needed to increase the number of books I read. As it turns out I was fortunate enough to be asked along to a local book club to talk about ‘And Then the Penny Dropped,’ and at the end of the session the group kindly invited me to join their club.
I don’t think my fellow book club members would mind me saying they are all of a certain age and enjoying their retirement. I have a great time at our monthly meetings and it ensures I now read at least one book a month without fail.
Going forward I’ll include on the website the book club review for the month.
‘Mr Golightly’s Holiday’ – Salley Vickers
The story follows the exploits of Mr Golightly, who rents a cottage in Dartmoor, Devon in the hope it will give him the peace and quiet he needs to update his one and only best-selling published work.
He quickly becomes embroiled in the affairs of the local villagers, offering them kindly words of wisdom. It doesn’t take long for, Mr Golightly to start to reflect on his own personal tragedies, mainly the death of his only son.
There are many clues scattered throughout the book as to Mr Golightly’s true identity however you have to wait to the end pages to discover the surprise, if you haven’t figured it out along the way, of course
The book is beautifully written, the prose is almost poetic and as a first-time reader of Salley Vickers work I find her style engaging.
I do have a but to add, in truth the story didn’t captivate me, and had it not been for the fact she does write so beautifully, I might have lost interest and given up on it.
If I’m totally honest I found the surprise ending a bit of a let-down. Scattered throughout the book were a number of biblical references, however as someone who isn’t well versed in her biblical scriptures, I failed to pick up on their relevance.
The characters in the book were plausible however I found it hard to believe, Mr Golightly had barely unpacked his suitcase in his temporary home and he’d already been readily accepted into the village community. His persuasive power is clearly a skill he’s acquired throughout the many years, he’s been working in his high-powered position (no spoiler alert, here). I can only envy Mr Golightly persuasive abilities, personally I can go on a fortnights holiday and I’ve barely manged to get a hello from the person on the neighbouring sunbed.
The book did raise a great deal of debate at my book club, some of our readers enjoyed it immensely whereas others like myself, not so much. Overall the general consensus amongst my group was Mr Golightly’s Holiday deserved a solid 3 stars.
‘Conversations with Friends’ – Sally Rooney.
Conversations with Friends tells the story of a twenty one year old aspiring writer, Frances and her former girlfriend Bobbie, who now perform Frances’s poetry together in Dublin.
The pair are introduced to an older couple, Melissa, a photographer and her out of work actor husband, Nick.
For whatever reason (not made apparent in the book) Melissa and Nick, strike up an unlikely friendship with Frances and Bobbie, introducing them to their affluent lifestyle.
Frances and Bobbie have an idealistic view of the world, they denounce capitalism, and see themselves as communists. It seems strange therefore that the young Bolshevik’s become entangled with a couple who appear to thrive in a capitalist society. It is not long before Frances enters into an affair with the handsome Nick.
The book is well written and the author does tackle the complexity of modern day relationships as well as the issue of self-harm and depression. Yet I found it difficult to warm to the book, none of the characters were particularly likeable and I was glad to see the back of the four of them to be brutally honest
This was Sally Rooney’s début novel; her second book Normal People was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. I’m sure there is a lot more to come from this author.
My reading group had mixed opinions about the book, some didn’t finish it and others managed to get to the end however the general consensus was, it wasn’t a particularly enjoyable read. I’ll certainly read another of Sally Rooney’s books in the future.
Overall rating given by my reading group was: 3 stars