Abide with Me

In the late 1950s, in the small town of West Annett, Maine, a minister struggles to regain his calling, his family, and his happiness in the wake of profound loss. At the same time, the community he has served so charismatically must come to terms with its own strengths and failings–faith and hypocrisy, loyalty and abandonment–when a dark secret is revealed.

Tyler Caskey has come to love West Annett, “just up the road” from where he was born. The short, brilliant summers and the sharp, piercing winters fill him with awe–as does his congregation, full of good people who seek his guidance and listen earnestly as he preaches. But after suffering a terrible loss, Tyler finds it hard to return to himself as he once was. He hasn’t had The Feeling–that God is all around him, in the beauty of the world–for quite some time. He struggles to find the right words in his sermons and in his conversations with those facing crises of their own, and to bring his five-year-old daughter, Katherine, out of the silence she has observed in the wake of the family’s tragedy.

 

I’m still not sure about this book, as I started it I found it difficult to read, it was written with a very “proper” or “flowery” narrative – you know, the sort of narrative you really have to concentrate with, not my best attribute when it comes to reading 😉 Once I got used to the style of writing it was a compelling tale, but with hidden depths which could be missed quite easily.  The 1950’s way of life and way of thinking came through strongly, I feel sorry for women who were trapped in that way of life, where image was everything, and a seemingly happy, perfect, home was so important – I know I would have struggled and felt trapped in that sort of environment! I’m not sure it was a book with a strong storyline as such, but did provoke strong feelings about that way of life.  I’m not sure I really can say I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but it did leave me thinking – so I would definitely say it was a good read, and well worth picking up.

 

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One Summer – David Baldacci

 

It’s almost Christmas,

but there is no joy in the house of terminally ill Jack and his family. With only a short time left to live, he spends his last days preparing to say goodbye to his devoted wife, Lizzie, and their three children.

Then, unthinkably, tragedy strikes again: Lizzie is killed in a car accident. With no one able to care for them, the children are separated from each other and sent to live with family members around the country. Just when all seems lost, Jack begins to recover in a miraculous turn of events. He rises from what should have been his deathbed, determined to bring his fractured family back together.

Struggling to rebuild their lives after Lizzie’s death, he reunites everyone at Lizzie’s childhood home on the oceanfront in South Carolina. And there, over one unforgettable summer, Jack will begin to learn to love again, and he and his children will learn how to become a family once more.

 

I’ve looked at this one in the bookshop a few times and thought about buying it, got to the library (as I’ve been trying to more often, rather than spending money on too many books!) and it was in their Best Seller section, so I grabbed it.  Pleased I did, the $4.00 for the Best Seller fee, was probably a much more comparible price than the $20-30 for a brand new book!

It was a good read, but nothing startling.  I definitely enjoyed it and there were a couple of nights I was flicking forward to see what would happen when I was too tired to read much further, but I wouldn’t call it a fantastic read.  There is the reminder there about being “present” with the kids, something I’m trying to work on – so not a bad reminder!

 

 

 

Room, Separate Beds, Sisters

Now, that makes for a funny title!  It’s actually three books, yes, I’ve read three books since I last did a review … obviously been reading more than I have been blogging!

Room – Emily Donaghue
The story of a mother, her son, a locked room and the outside world


Wow … this has got to be one of the best books I’ve read for a while.  The narrative is from the little boy’s point of view, it really makes you think about the world we live in.  I don’t want to say to much and give away too much – but if I recommend any book to have as number 1 on your reading list, this would be it. 

I call it a “lingering” book, it lingered within me for days after I’d read it.  Fantastic.

Separate Beds – Elizabeth Buchan
Annie and Tom’s marriage is in mid-life crisis. They seem to have everything – a lovely home, rewarding jobs and three healthy grown-up children – but, beneath the surface, all is not well. Beneath the surface lies a secret guilt which ensures that whilst they live under the same roof, they sleep in separate beds.

This was definitely one of my typical, fill in time, have to be reading something books.  However, some of it did get inside and mess with my head a bit.  A lot of it was very close to home, no we don’t have separate beds – but middle age (*gulp* – really, I’m not sure I want to admit to that!), husband in kind of job crisis mode, while wife quite happily getting on with her’s, yeah, just a bit too close to home! It was an okay book, not a huge got to turn the page to see what happens next – but a pleasant (and for me a bit thought provoking) read.

Sister – Rosamund Lupton
What would you do if your sister disappeared without a trace? This is an emotionally fraught and at some times terrifying story about two sisters and the strength that binds them.

Another great book! Just a month or so ago I was getting rather sick of the same old, same old story lines and books out there.  I love to read, and tend to read pretty light books – poor brain just can’t handle absorbing much more.  So its been great to have picked up two good books in the last couple of weeks (this and Room).  This had lots of twists and turns and was definitely a wanting to read just a little bit more before I put it down kind of book!  I’ve got five sisters, so I understand the closeness and differences, and could relate to the relationship of these two sisters.  This was more of a mystery/thriller than I’d expected when I picked it up – thoroughly enjoyed it and was sad to finish it!

The Dead Heart – Douglas Kennedy

 

Douglas Kennedy is one of my favourite authors – he has written some fantastic books! I found this one when I was ordering his latest one (The Moment), an older one that I had some how missed and not read yet.

‘That dumbshit map. I’d been seduced by it. Seduced by its possibilities. That map had brought me here …That map had been a serious mistake’ The map in question is of Australia, stumbled across in a second-hand bookshop by American journalist Nick Hawthorne, en route to another dead-end hack job in Akron, Ohio. Seduced by all that wilderness, all that NOTHING, Nick decides to put his midlife crisis on hold and light out to the ultimate nowheresville – where a chance encounter throws him into a sun-baked orgy of surf, sex and swill, and a nightmare from which there is no escape. ‘Douglas Kennedy might never be allowed into Australia again. This is a crazy, compulsive ultimately serious thriller and a bravura fictional debut from one of our best travel writers’ Philip Kerr

I didn’t realise until I copied the above description that this was his debut novel – interesting!

Definitely worth reading – it was a pretty smallish book, but packed with lots of excitement, one of those books that I come home from work at about 1.00am and realise I’m still reading at 1.30am and really need to get to sleep so that I’m awake and functioning for the next day.  It was a pretty simple story really, and probably made Australians look a bit like country bumpkins, but that’s okay – you’ve got to have a sense of humour, right?