February 15, 2016 7 Comments
It’s been a difficult year for me so far, but you know what I can do when I’m sick, when I’m hanging around the hospital waiting for things to happen, and when I’m recovering from surgery and have to rest a lot? I can read! And it happens that I received a lovely stack of new-to-me books for Christmas! Here are my reviews of the ones I’ve finished:
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
For the first half of this book, I was enjoying the story well enough, but I was a little disappointed that this book wasn’t grabbing me like Morton’s The Distant Hours (reviewed here). Then it started to do things that really impressed me structurally as well as making the plot more exciting! The most amazing thing I can explain without giving you any spoilers is that a conversation between two main characters which starts around page 30 appears again around page 440 but from the other character’s point of view; the third-person narration giving you the viewpoint character’s unspoken thoughts and perceptions of the action, combined with the fact that background noise prevents each of them from hearing some of what the other says, combined with what you’ve learned about the plot in the intervening 410 pages, gives the conversation an entirely different meaning! Wow.
Anyway, about the story: Laurel was hanging out in her treehouse, being an angsty teenager, when she saw a strange man approach her mother and heard the few words he said before her mother fatally stabbed him with the birthday-cake knife. The official story is that her mother was defending herself against a dangerous vagrant, but Laurel isn’t so sure…but (for rather weakly explained reasons) she doesn’t attempt to figure it out until fifty years later. The story of Laurel’s investigation is interwoven with flashbacks to World War II London, when her mother had all the interpersonal drama that she then left behind to become Laurel’s wonderful, nurturing mother at Greenacres Farm. Twists and turns galore bring us to a roller-coaster ending in which it all finally, astoundingly, makes sense. There are some dragging moments in the first half, but it was well worth reading carefully in order to appreciate the rest!
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, translated from Swedish by Rod Bradbury
Allan Karlsson is alone in his room at the old folks’ home and doesn’t feel like going to the party that’s about to begin celebrating his 100th birthday, so he climbs out the ground-level window and shuffles off in his slippers. Read more of this post