As we sail into another *don’t say unprecedented* month, I thought I’d briefly reflect on the books that I read in May (don’t worry, no spoilers!) Two of the books I read this month I gave 5 star reviews to so it’s definitely been a great month of reading (either that or the sun/gin is going to my head!)
Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey
Genre: Crime, Drama
Elizabeth is Missing has sat on my shelf for years, waiting to be read. It follows Maud, who is forgetful. She makes a tea and forgets to drink it. She forgets why she is at the shop and buys more tinned peaches to add to her already substantial collection. But she remembers one thing… her friend Elizabeth is missing.
I think the word that best fits my experience of this book is uncomfortable. And I don’t mean that as a bad thing. Although it isn’t specifically stated, Maud suffers from Dementia/Alzheimers and it is portrayed perfectly through the confused narration. Particularly so, as the narrative flicks between present time and Maud’s childhood when her sister Sukey also went missing. It was sometimes difficult to follow, which reflected Maud’s difficulty in following events too. I found Maud’s daughter Helen as a particularly relatable character and could put myself in her shoes, even though we only see things from Maud’s perspective.
My issue with the novel is that it felt a lot longer than it needed to be. At the halfway point I really didn’t care anymore where Elizabeth was or what had happened to her. I was struggling to make it through to the end, continuing only because of my (admittedly waning interest) in the sub-plot relating to Maud’s sister Sukey.
The ending left me feeling a little frustrated but I think it fit well with the rest of the story.
I will, however, definitely be watching the BBC adaptation which, if done well, could be great!
My Sister, The Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
Genre: Crime, Drama
This short novel follows Korede, a dedicated nurse in Lagos, Nigeria, as she navigates a difficult problem – her sister Ayoola’s habit for killing off her boyfriends.
The short, snappy chapters made it an easy read however I didn’t feel that they always lent themselves to the plot of the story which may have benefitted from further elaboration. The depiction of modern day Nigeria and the impacts that traditional Nigerian society still had were vividly described and gave me pause for thought, which is a real credit of the novella.
I think the problem that I had with this book, though, is that I felt like not a lot really happened. Ayoola’s character particularly lacked any depth and the ending left a lot to be desired. Some reviews I have read said that they found it ‘laugh out loud’ funny which I didn’t get. Maybe that is the point, maybe I didn’t ‘get it.’
Found – Erin Kinsley
Genre: Crime, Drama
I came across this book in a different way. My boyfriend was on and on at me to pick the next book that I read, so I (reluctantly) let him, and he chose this. When I asked him how he had picked it, he said “oh I typed book into Amazon and this was the first one that came up!” – so real thorough research there on his part!
Found follows the family of Evan, a boy who is kidnapped from a bus stop by his school. A few months after his kidnap, Evan is found, frightened and refusing to talk about what has happened to him.
This book was a strange one for me. I enjoyed it while reading it, and particularly enjoyed the exploration of the relationship between Evan and his Grandad. However, when I sat and reflected on it, I felt like not a lot happened? It read very much like a BBC drama, almost like a screenplay and the ending felt a little flat.
Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
Oh this book! I genuinely can’t sing its praises enough – it shot straight up to one of my favourite books of all time and I simultaneously didn’t want it to end but couldn’t put it down.
Where the Crawdads Sing tells the tale of Kya who is abandoned at a young age in the marshes of North Carolina and must fend for (and raise) herself. Shunned by society, the novel follows Kya’s growth from young, neglected child to an alluring, but wild, woman, more at home with the gulls than in the local town.
I don’t really want to say any more than that. This novel doesn’t fit into any specific boxes – its a coming of age, romance, drama, crime and, quite frankly, soon-to-be classic.
If you read any book this year, please make it this one.
The Flat Share – Beth O’Leary
Genre: Chick-lit, Romance
“Have you ever looked forward to reading a book so much that you can’t actually start it?”
Tiffy needs a place to live and finds a flat listing online posted by Leon. The catch? There is only one bed: Leon works nights, so gets the flat in the day, and Tiffy works days so gets the flat at night. In theory they will never meet, and only communicate through post-it notes that they leave throughout the flat.
The Flat Share is not your usual chick-lit, romance novel – it deals with some pretty heavy topics including gaslighting and abusive relationships sensitively but without detracting from the charming nature of this debut novel from Beth O’Leary.
I genuinely rooted for both Tiffy and Leon all the way through this novel as they are both
likeable loveable characters – endearing and with real depth. There is a charming sub-plot involving a patient of Leon’s which I thoroughly enjoyed, so much so that I could forgive the slightly bizarre turn that the novel takes towards the end. From start to finish there is so much heart and warmth that I couldn’t put it down. It is definitely up there with the best of it’s genre!
This novel would translate SO well into a Bridget Jones-esque film and I’ve been racking my brains as to who I’d want to play Tiffy and Leon! If you have any ideas please do let me know in the comments!
What have you read recently?