Well Christmas is finally here. I hope Santa has brought you all your book filled desires. From a number of very generous Santas I’ve received a number of books which are sure to keep me busy well into the New Year.
“I used to be probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth…”
Meet DC Peter Grant. He will show you his city. But it’s not the capital that you see as you make your way from tube to bus, from Elephant to Castle. It’s a city that under its dark surface is packed full of crime. And of magic. A city that you never suspected…
Gran’t story starts when he tries to take a witness statement from a man who was already dead. And take him down a twisting, turning centuries’ old mystery that reckons to set London on fire.
Intial Thoughts: I’ve started thus already and it strikes me as Harry Potter meets Sherlock Holmes. A number of people who’s opinions on books I trust have read it and loved it so it should be an enjoyable read.
2. Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
Ruth Hilton is an orphaned young seamstress who catches the eye of a gentleman, Henry Bellingham, who is captivated by her simplicity and beauty. When she loses her job and home, he offers her comfort and shelter, only to cruelly desert her soon after. Nearly dead with grief and shame, Ruth is offered the chance of a new life among people who give her love and respect, even though they are at first unaware of her secret – an illegitimate child. When Henry enters her life again, however, Ruth must make the impossible choice between social acceptance and personal pride. In writing Ruth, Elizabeth Gaskell daringly confronted prevailing views about sin and illegitimacy with her compassionate and honest portrait of a ‘fallen woman’.
Intial Thoughts: I’ve been working my way through Gaskell’s work over the past year but had been unable to find Ruth. It appeared to be out of print. Very glad Santa was able to find a copy.
A story of love, regret and the bittersweet nature of friendships …
It is 1988. Six cynical young urbanites, brought together by a series of
strange events, end up stranded at Christmas in a bleak, run-down house on
an isolated stretch of Donegal coastline in Ireland. It seems like a recipe
for disaster, but as the landscape reveals its wild charms, and the house
reveals its strange history, they become bound in friendship, and as a
drunken joke form the Christmas Club.
Fast-forward to Christmas 2002. As one by one the Christmas Club slowly
reconvenes, middle-aged manners and the gloss of new money disguise
passions that still run deep – passions that erupt with tragic consequences.
Intial Thoughts: I’d never heard of this book till it was suggested by a bookclub member as our Christmas read (it lost out to A Christmas Carol). However a number of members read it themselves and loved it. I intend to try read it between now and the New Year while we are still in the festive season.
4. Rainey Royal by Dylan Landis
Fourteen-year-old Rainey Royal lives with her father, a jazz musician with a cultish personality, in a once-elegant, now decaying brownstone. Her mother has abandoned the family, and Rainey fends off advances from her father’s best friend while trying desperately to nurture her own creative drives and build a substitute family. She’s a rebel, even a criminal, but she’s also deeply vulnerable, fighting to figure out how to put back in place the boundaries her life has knocked down, and more than that, struggling to learn how to be an artist and a person in a broken world.
Rainey Royal is told in 14 narratives of scarred and aching beauty that build into a fiercely powerful novel: the harrowing and ultimately affirming story of a young artist.
Inital Thoughts: This is a debut novel and was given to me by a friend of the author, however I’ve been informed by other less biased parties that it is excellent.
5. The Devil I Know by Claire Kilroy
There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile
He made a crooked deal and he blew a crooked pile
He dug a crooked hole
And he sank the crooked isle
And they all went to hell in a stew of crooked bile.
The Devil I Know is a thrilling novel of greed and hubris, set against the backdrop of a brewing international debt crisis. Told by Tristram, in the form of a mysterious testimony, it recounts his return home after a self-imposed exile only to find himself trapped as a middle man played on both sides – by a grotesque builder he’s known since childhood on the one hand, and a shadowy businessman he’s never met on the other. Caught between them, as an overblown property development begins in his home town of Howth, it follows Tristram’s dawning realisation that all is not well.
From a writer unafraid to take risks, The Devil I Know is a bold, brilliant and disturbing piece of storytelling.
Intial Thoughts: This is one of the numerous books which have appeared in recent years in Ireland about the financial crisis, however it sounds to be one of the more interesting and inventive on the topic. It has been highly rated by those who’s opinions I trust so should be an interesting read.
6. Emma by Alexander McCall Smith
Prepare to meet a young woman who thinks she knows everything
Fresh from university, Emma Woodhouse arrives home in Norfolk ready to embark on adult life with a splash. Not only has her sister, Isabella, been whisked away on amotorbike to London, but her astute governess, Miss Taylor is at a loose end watching as Mr. Woodhouse worries about his girls. Someone is needed to rule the roost and young Emma is more than happy to oblige.
At the helm of her own dinner parties, and often found either rearranging the furniture at the family home of Hartfield, or instructing her new protégée, Harriet Smith, Emma is in
charge. You don’t have to be in London to go to parties, find amusement or make trouble.
Not if you’re Emma, the very big fish in the rather small pond.
But for someone who knows everything, Emma doesn’t know her own heart. And there is only one person who can play with Emma’s indestructible confidence, her friend and inscrutable neighbour George Knightly – this time has Emma finally met her match?
Ever alive to the social comedy of village life, beloved author Alexander McCall Smith’s Emma is the busybody we all know and love, and a true modern delight.
Inital Thoughts: The latest instalment of The Austen Project, I’m looking forward to reading this over the Christmas Period. It should be the perfect Christmas read.
What books did Santa bring you? Share them in the comments below