Sunday, 15 June 2008

A few good reads

Patrick Gale's Notes from an Exhibition , lent me by a friend who comes from Cornwall, was a riveting read. Rachel, an artist and mother of several children, dies in her studio, leaving her Quaker husband and her children to sort the remains of her life and also to discover her beginnings in another country and continent. The novels themes of love and loss kept me reading, as did the theme of a mothers love for each of her children, all different characters. The theme of loss in many guises, is a strong one, but some losses may lead to a gain of another sort. The background is also strongly written and adds to the atmosphere. I'll be searching out other books by this writer soon, as this is the first I've read by him. (The pictures in the paperback I read look a lot better on the screen, if you follow the link given in the book.)
Hester's Story by Adele Geras is not particularly new, but I've ony recently come across the adult novels by Adele, and have enjoyed the couple I've read so far. They are reliable reads, in that they have some believable characters, the plots are also realistic and the endings are properly happy. Good middlebrow stuff, quite romantic but not too sugary.
Khaled Hosseini's second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a quite different story. Mariam is the illegitimate daughter of an Afghani business man, brought up by her epileptic mother until the age of fifteen, when she is married off to Rasheed, a shoemaker in distant Kabul. The novel covers the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and their departure, the complicated politics and the rise of the Taliban. After a rocket attack kills her parents, Laila, a neighbours' child of fourteen is taken in by Rasheed and Mariam. After Laila recovers from her injuries, Rasheed marries her. The novel then tells of the relationship between the two women and how it develops. I found this book almost unputdownable, as I wanted to find out what happened next. As this is a Book Club read, I'll be very interested in how the other members feel about it. I haven't decided if it is better or just as good as his first novel, the Kite runner.

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