If you don’t have time to read The Times’ Book Reviews
Here are my super short reviews of the many books I’ve read this summer. (I posted longer reviews of The Age of Miracles and Wild: Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail earlier and you can read them by clicking on those titles.)
Quick question for discussion: If the book is great but you hate the ending…do you still say the book was great?
I feel this conundrum all the time because a great ending is really hard to achieve and hardly anyone ever does it to my satisfaction. But that doesn’t mean the book wasn’t meaningful to me or that I didn’t enjoy it. I’ve basically made it a policy that if I don’t like the ending I don’t recommend it, but that’s mainly because I want to be exuberant when recommending a good read. But maybe that doesn’t have to be the case.
Okay, on to my super short reviews.
Broken Harbor by Tana French
I deeply disliked this murder mystery set in a suburb of Dublin, modern day. I am a huge fan of her last book Faithful Place because the murder mystery was compelling but the personal story of tragedy and the search for happiness and redemption for the main character resonated and touched me deeply. In this latest novel, the murder is horrific and the tragedy of its circumstances just goes on and on, from start to finish, without relief.
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
I absolutely loved every page of this sequel to Discovery of Witches. It has time travel, romance, historical and literary references galore. Most importantly it continues the theme of the inviolability of true love (the kind of love that respects one another, protects one another and upholds and supports the dreams of one another) and our duty to protect it wherever that kind of love is found. I cannot wait for the final book of this trilogy!
Diamond in the Rough: A Memoir by Shawn Colvin
She’s one of my favorite songwriters ever, but she didn’t write a very good book. She almost seems abashed, as if she doesn’t feel her life story is worth a book. Therefore she speeds through each event and never really engages you, as if she’s trying to tell the story really quick before she loses her audience. I didn’t really find the person who wrote my favorite song “I Don’t Know Why” in this book. It’s mainly a quick retelling of her life and a bunch of anecdotes about songwriting, romance, depression and the life of a touring musician.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
This seems to be the “must read” of the summer. It’s the story of a wife who disappears and it’s told from two perspectives: the husband as he deals with suspicion from everyone around him; and the wife, in the form of her diary left behind. It’s immediately engaging, you can’t put it down, and it’s a really good mystery. But I didn’t love it the way other people do. Even though I thought it was really good, I had a hard time finding someone to root for in the story. A bit like a Jonathan Franzen novel, it was just a little too reflective of real people and I can watch them any old time. And I’m really torn about the ending, but that’s a discussion we’ll have to have in the comments, with Spoiler Alerts attached.
Back to my reading chair. I’m in the middle of Dare Me by Megan Abbott with Gold by Chris Cleave on deck.