Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tidying up loose ends

The audio version of This Charming Man by Marian Keyes was a wonderfully entertaining way to spend a long commute. The story of the four women (Grace, Lola, Marnie and Alicia) was so engrossing that I really hated for the book to end. The four women (and others, as it turns out) were all entangled in romances with the charming but despicable Paddy de Coursy. They were all damaged as a result of their associations with him, but there are, for the most part, satisfying outcomes in all cases. The only strange thing is that the character of Lola, when relating her story, speaks in a very strange manner -- almost in a pidgin English style. I don't know if that was to differentiate her from the other "voices", or to make her seem even more of a kooky free-spirit, but it was somewhat grating at times. As is sometimes the case in novels by Marian Keyes, some situations are dragged on a bit to long, but overall, the book was very good. I always hated to arrive at work or at home and stop the story -- always a good sign in an audio book!

I never was able to warm to the new Ruth Rendell novel Not in the Flesh. I was happy to meet up with old friends Inspector Wexford and Burden, but the events in the novel seemed choppy and forced. Wexford's family was only on the periphery of the story, although we did learn that Sheila has a new daughter named (I kid you not) Anoushka (those wacky celebrity names, you know!). Other than that, she, Sheila and Dora sort of skimmed along in the background. This book dealt with two corpses which were discovered in a rural area, and the attempts to identify them and discover how they came to be disposed of where they were. As she has done in other books, Rendell also deals with a timely and controversial issue, in this case the attempts of Wexford to stop female genital mutilation among Somali immigrants. There are the usual odd cast of suspects, including a writer who lives with both his current and former wife (they refer to him as "our husband"). It was just hard to get interested in the story. There was no "gotcha" ending, which was such a thrilling aspect of her earlier novels. I hope for her next book she will be back to her old form!

Final Verdict on This Charming Man: Four Gherkins, for being an engrossing, if sometimes difficult to hear, story about how four women overcame violent relationships

Final Verdict on Not in the Flesh: Two Gherkins, for being a rather slow mystery novel that never really got going

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