Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith Book Cover Image

Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith: Crime Fiction With Character

Rating: 3.5 stars

Category: Crime fiction

Synopsis: Victor Van Allen is proud of the ordered life he has created for himself. He runs a sought-after printing press, holds a respected position in the town, and is the father of a precocious little girl.

The only taint to this perfect facade is his wife, Melinda. Their relationship is tenuously held together by Vic sleeping in a separate room and pretending to ignore her involvements with other men. Yet a new arrival in the sleepy town of Little Wesley means Vic may not be able to look the other way for much longer… Continue reading Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith: Crime Fiction With Character

Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood Book Cover Image

Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood: Rich Yet Unsettling Portrayal of 1930s Berlin

Rating: 3.5 stars

Category: Short stories, literary fiction

Synopsis: Christopher Isherwood, an English tutor and novelist, is rootless. Yet it is this quality of rootlessness that allows him to seamlessly drift between the high and low of Berlin society, from decadent lakeside houses to cramped attic rooms shared by entire families.

Goodbye to Berlin is a semi-autobiographical collection of episodes that portray life in 1930s Berlin. Poverty, suffering and the rise of Nazism is beginning to give a threatening edge to all of the rich possibilities of the city. Continue reading Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood: Rich Yet Unsettling Portrayal of 1930s Berlin

Girl Woman Other by Bernardine Evaristo Book Cover Image

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo: Because One Voice is Never Enough

Rating: 5 stars

Category: Literary fiction

Synopsis: In Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo intertwines twelve lives – mostly black, British women. Their voices range from Hattie, an ancient mixed-race grandma struggling to keep her family farm and her pride along with it, to Amma, a black lesbian playwright whose radical work is showing at the National Theatre for the first time.

Through this lively spectrum of characters, Evaristo explores the nuances of identity, connection, and what it means to be proud of who you are. Continue reading Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo: Because One Voice is Never Enough

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood Book Cover Image

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood: Character-Centric Historical Crime

Rating: 4 stars

Category: Historical fiction, crime, literary fiction

Format: Audiobook

Synopsis:

Alias Grace is based on the actual historical figure Grace Marks, who was convicted of murdering her employer and his housekeeper in 1843, alongside James McDermott. In this fictionalised account, it is uncertain whether she was acting under duress, out of fear for her own life, or if she was McDermott’s lover and co-conspirator.

The ambitious psychologist Dr Jordan is sent to the penitentiary to draw out the truth. However, with Grace claiming to have no memory of the incident, it will be difficult to separate the innocent, exploited young girl from the woman capable of unspeakable violence. Continue reading Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood: Character-Centric Historical Crime

The Red and the Green by Iris Murdoch Book Cover Image

Archive Nostalgia: The Red and the Green by Iris Murdoch

This week, it would have been the 100th birthday of inimitable author Iris Murdoch. What better time to bring back this review of her novel, The Red and the Green?

Andrew: a slightly reluctant soldier in the First World War.

Pat: a member of the militant Irish Volunteers.

Millie: an eccentric and passionate woman whose home is being used to store weaponry.

The Red and the Green interrogates the lives of this troubled family as events escalate towards the Easter Rising, a pivotal moment that would change the course of Irish History. Continue reading Archive Nostalgia: The Red and the Green by Iris Murdoch

Do You Need to Like the Characters to Enjoy the Book? Join the Debate!

Sometimes the characters in a book are so relatable, interesting or just plain loveable that they make it a joy to read. A few that come to mind for me are The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Room by Emma Donoghue, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. However, what happens when the characters in a book are not relatable or even completely dislikeable? Is that a barrier to our enjoyment of the story? Continue reading Do You Need to Like the Characters to Enjoy the Book? Join the Debate!