Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Against my better judgment, I started listening to the audio book of This Charming Man, by Marian Keyes. Her books are always very entertaining, and usually hilarious. However, the main theme of this book (as far as I had been able to determine) is domestic violence. Hardly a subject that lends itself easily to amusing anecdotes. The story is indeed difficult to listen to at times, but the characters and situations are all so engaging, that you get drawn into the story anyway. The novel concerns four women: Marnie, Grace, Lola and Alicia. All of them have at one point or another been involved with the Irish politician Paddy de Coursy, and all have suffered greatly for their associations with him. There is alcoholism, physical abuse, loss of self-respect, and other cringe-inducing situations, but the story moves along nicely and keeps the reader involved. I have a feeling that there will be an uplifting ending, where all the "bad guys" get their comeuppance, so I am hoping I won't be disappointed! I have to wonder what is going on with the author, though. Her last novel, Anybody Out There?, dealt with the emotional devastation of a woman after the death of her husband. After building a strong and loyal fan base with her serious-but-funny novels about the wacky Walsh clan, I am wondering why the move into such dark topics? I hope her next novel will be a bit lighter. I don't think she's written yet about Walsh sister Helen, who was a private investigator last time we encountered her. That would make for an interesting story, I'm sure!

On the book front, I am still struggling mightily with Ruth Rendell's Not in the Flesh. She has always been my favorite mystery author (and with the number of British mysteries I get through, that's saying something!), but this book is just not one of her better efforts, in my opinion. At least not yet -- I'm only part way through, so there's still hope that things will turn around. This novel concerns the discovery of two bodies that were buried nearly a decade ago. Inspector Wexford and his loyal sidekick Burden interview the usual cast off misfits and oddballs in an attempt to unravel both the identities of the corpses and what led to them being buried. Somehow, the novel doesn't really seem to "flow" easily. The sentences are choppy and annoying, and the action is slow and doesn't always seem to have anything to do with the story. I really hope Rendell's not losing her touch as an author (although after that many books, I suppose I can allow her one dud!).

I was pleasantly surprised to read recently that Gavin & Stacey's Ruth Jones gave a shout out to libraries. Glad to see some celebrity support!


Janet said...

I love Ruth Rendell's mysteries too, though I can't comment on this one as I haven't read it yet. I also like her Barbara Vine novels.

Thanks for the comment about cats on my blog. I hope yours are doing better after their change of diet.

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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