Indiscretion by Charles Dubow
Recently I have been reading books that I have enjoyed and would recommend but I haven’t wanted to devour them. Welcome Indiscretion, this book made me fall in love with reading all over again.
Indiscretion is described as the modern day version of The Great Gatsby, one of my all-time favourite books, so I had high hopes.
Harry and Maddy Winslow are one of those all-American couples which have a seemingly perfect life, he’s an author who’s just hit the big time, they spend summers in the Hamptons and attend fabulous parties and events. They met at college and have been deeply in love ever since and they have one son – Johnny. One summer they meet Claire, young beautiful and intriguing the couple can’t help but be swept away by her and she feels the same about them. She goes to the beach, parties and dinners with the couple and dreams of a life like Harry and Maddy’s. After one too many cocktails Claire tells Harry she is love with him, he ignores her comments but not for long.
Several months later Claire sees Harry in New York on business and the two begin a steamy and intense love affair. He takes her on trips to Paris, buys her designer dresses and dines at trendy restaurants. But all the lies and deceit, as with most affairs, eventually comes to light.
Told by Walter, Maddy’s best friend from high school the novel has definite similarities to The Great Gatsby. Walter reminded me so much of Nick Carraway. He is a wise and impartial figure who although has a good job and money yearns for a different life, one with Maddy. It also deals with the same subjects; idealism, decadence and excess.
Charles Dubow has created a wonderful book centred on the question, can we have it all? Harry seemingly has everything he could want but is perfection and idealism ever really enough? This is a timeless book and one that deserves a lot more credit.
The Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Arguing – Melissa Kite
The Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Arguing is a title to stop you in your tracks. We’ve all got ‘that’ friend, the one who always thinks their right and will spend hours demonstrating their point, even though you know they are completely and utterly wrong. So to put this idea into book form is utterly genius.
Madison Flight was born arguing. She was the child at school who told everyone Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy didn’t exist and while her friends were telling their parents how they wished to be ballerinas and fire fighters when they grew up Madison wanted to be a divorce lawyer.
As she gets older her argumentative streak doesn’t stop, she deserts a man at the alter and leaves baristas quaking in their shoes when she darkens their doorstep. She does however achieve her dream by becoming one of London’s most renowned divorce lawyers.
The novel follows one of her biggest cases, Mrs Bilby and her estranged husband Seth, as they battle for Mrs Bilby’s 12 billion pound fortune but an accident puts the case into jeopardy when Madison is struck by a car and shock horror becomes NICE.
Mrs Bilby is absolutely bonkers, she’s frittered her money away on solar panels even though she uses oil to heat her house and channels her energy into The Micro-Pig Foundation. She gets lost in her mansion and practically buys out a branch of Waitrose three times a week. I would love for there to be a spin-off just about her. Her character is completely fascinating, if for all the wrong reasons!
Melissa Kite writes with such wit that I often found myself laughing out loud. I could not put it down.
Marina – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
I’ve had Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon on my book shelf/top of my wardrobe for a good few months now, nine months to be precise.
The novel is a gothic tale and I thought it would make a nice change to the girly/classic/general fiction I read. I do tend to struggle with gothic tales perhaps because I can’t identify with the plot.
Anyhow, Marina tells the tale of protagonists Marina and Oscar. Oscar befriends Marina when he ‘steals’ her father’s watch. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery (as you do) where they see a coach pulled by black horses and a woman with her face hidden. Inquisitive, they follow the lady which leads them on a horrific and bone-chilling journey.
As they delve further into the mysterious ritual they learn of man called Mijail Kolvenik who housed rooms of dead bodies which he amputated and turned into mechanical creatures. His wife, a shy and broken opera singer, finds out his dark secret just before they are about to marry. Swept up in the romance and lust of their relationship she marries him anyway, however their wedding day is blighted when acid is thrown in her face disfiguring her forever. This is the start of the downfall of one of Barcelona’s most powerful couples. Marina and Oscar eventually learn of the connection between Mijail, his wife and the woman in the cemetery.
Running parallel to this corruption is the beautiful relationship Oscar and Marina develop. They find comfort and companionship with each other, sadly this isn’t set to last.
I loved the fact the novel was set in Barcelona, it’s somewhere I have always wanted to visit and the author created the perfect gothic setting. The book did remind me a bit of the gothic novels of Angela Carter (without the innuendos). However I did struggle to keep interested because of the genre of the novel. Yes I enjoyed it but it’s not a book I would rush to read again but I am still keen to read his bestseller The Shadow of the Wind.
And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini
And the Mountains Echoed is the second of Khaled Housseini’s books I have read. I borrowed A Thousand Splendid Suns from my mother on her recommendation, when I was still at college. I adored it – I was captivated by Housseini’s masterful storytelling so I was really looking forward to reading his latest offering. The posters all over the Underground last year also swayed me.
And the Mountains Echoed spans sixty years and centres on brother and sister – Abdullah and Pari –living in Afghanistan. Due to their mother’s death they have a unique closeness and a seemingly unbreakable bond but this is all set to be shattered by their father who marches Pari across the desert and into the arms of the unfamiliar.
Each chapter is then devoted to explaining why the children’s father gave his only daughter to strangers to bring up as their own and the quest to reunite the siblings sixty years later. We learn of Nabi, the children’s uncle, who ushers Pari into the lives of his employers. Housseini describes Pari’s new environment in Paris with her ‘mother’ and Abdullah’s new adult life in America. He explains how the pair finally reunite when a lodger finds Nabi’s letter explaining the terrible tragedy which befell the children and calls Pari. When Pari and Abdallah finally meet it’s hard not to let the tears fall and it’s rather bittersweet.
I had mixed feelings about this book, I enjoyed Housseini’s magical storytelling and the characters he created. However at times I struggled to keep going with the book. I felt some of the chapters were unnecessary and long winded. I also felt that the blurb was slightly misleading. I thought it would solely be about Pari and Abdullah’s quest to find each other with each chapter giving their perspectives. Whilst the various narrative strands offered a dynamic and different approach to the generic novel, I did get confused with the sheer volume of characters introduced.
What really saved the novel for me was the final chapter. It brought the various stories together and was a fitting end to a novel filled with sorrow, hope and despair.
Pretty Thing – Jennifer Nadel
Pretty Thing by Jennifer Nadel is the first YA book I have read in ages and what a refreshing change it was.
School girl Becs has a wide circle of friends and is always up for a laugh but one night her life changes forever. Becs was due to meet her best friend Mary-Jane in the pub but when she never turns up her attention turns to the handsome, older Bracken. The fifteen year old is swept off her feet and becomes immediately infatuated with him but the next day her bubble of happiness threatens to burst when she discovers Mary-Jane has been assaulted.
As Becs’s school friends begin to realise the world around them in becoming more dangerous Becs throws herself into a serious relationship with the mysterious Bracken to the detriment of her friends and most importantly Mary-Jane.
Becs is an intelligent girl but like most fifteen year old girls in their first relationship she follows her heart rather than her head and refuses to see the trail of deceit and hurt which she leaves behind. Her relationship with her dad suffers and as well as those with her friends. Who will she choose her friends or Bracken?
Nadel perfectly captures the feelings and emotions of a first love. She portrays the euphoria and optimism of how someone can make you believe anything is possible and perfect and nothing anyone says can change that.
Thinking back to when I was a fifteen year old I would have fancied Bracken – I have always loved a bad boy! This is a wonderfully written book full of humour, heartbreak and drama – I thoroughly enjoyed it.