The Undomestic Goddess, by Sophie Kinsella

The Undomestic GoddessThis is not the type of book I usually read.

Science fiction, action adventure and psychological thrillers are my usual choices. I am not a ‘girly’ girl and I don’t like literature that is marked as ‘chick lit’. The cover alone would put me off picking this one of the shelves.

But, I am making a real effort to broaden the genres I read. And have read one of Sophie Kinsella’s books before and found it entertaining. So, when I found this for sale in a charity shop, I bought it.

What I liked about the book

Told from the point of view of the main character – a young female lawyer who falls from grace and ends up doing something completely different – this was frothy fun. The story moved at a pace and there was always something happening. The language chosen was easy and clear, without being patronising. So, I will confess to enjoying this amusing (but ridiculous) story.

What I didn’t like about the book

I just couldn’t quite picture the main character as a seriously good lawyer – she was more a Bridget Jones character, dippy and scatterbrained. The basic plot was unlikely. The love interest was too obvious. The ending was predictable.

Who would enjoy it?

Young women (probably younger than the main character) who like the idea of being seriously successful, while living a wildly crazy sort of life with no ties. Great for holiday reading, reading while travelling; or for cheering yourself up when life gets just a bit too serious.


Stephen King’s Bag of Bones

I am not a fan of the horror genre and Stephen King is a best selling author so – my illogical thought processes reasoned – I couldn’t possibly enjoy his books.

But other authors acclaim his story telling skills and I decided I should read at least one King novel, if only to prove my own prejudices
correct. So I picked this book off the shelf of my local library.

Well, I was wrong. He is not a good writer. He is a great writer.

I read “Bag of Bones” – during daylight hours only! The story was complex, the characters believable and the supernatural elements were woven into the plot with such skill that disbelief was easily suspended (by this reader anyway).

Anyway, back to the library for more ……

This Book Will Save Your Life, A M Homes

Just finished reading this book.

I have to confess, I chose it for its title. Who could resist that catchy hook and the doughnuts?

A good read – I couldn’t put it down – but not a great book.

Things I liked:

The opening premise, the view of LA life, the relentless pace, the many different interwoven strands, the page-turning hooks.

Things I didn’t like:

Although told as a first person narrative, there was little opportunity to understand the thought process of the narrator. I wanted to believe in this lonely, control freak of a man, but I realised from the narrative voice, a few chapters in, that the author was a woman.

Things just seemed to happen to him and he suffered from many significant external events – each one would have caused his life to change anyway. There were too many unexplained teasers, and unresolved plot arcs, by the time we reached an unsatisfactorily disconnected ending.

On Tana River by David Livingstone

Just finished reading this book, written by my father in the early 1960s. If you are interested in a vivid description of the early work of missionaries in this remote area of Kenya (on the Tana River), then this book will be of interest.

My father, who died recently, was commissioned to write this book by the Methodist Missionary society.

What I liked:

The book really consists of a series of self contained anecdotes or episodes. This which led me to think this would be really suited for publication as a web blog – if such a thing had existed in the 1960s!

My father brings each anecdote to life, often beginning by writing in the present tense. I love the way he paints pictures with words and he chooses words with care – neither too complicated, nor too simple.

He refers back to historic events, neatly citing the sources of his information, elegantly and without interrupting the flow of the narrative.

Most importantly, he writes about the Africans with affection and respect. His enthusiasm for his ministry is very evident.

What I didn’t like:

The book reads as a series of articles (indeed, this is how it was commissioned) and, athough there are linking themes, there is little sense of progression or development.

The stories, often beginning in the present tense with a lively, active voice, tend to end with passages written in the past tense and with a passive voice. I believe my father used this technique deliberately in order to deliver a generalised, evangelical message at the end of each section of the book. This is, of course, a typical preaching technique. But, as someone more interested in the stories than in the theological content of the mission work, I found this deadened the impact of some anecdotes.

I would, of course, have been very interested in how the conditions affected my father, personally. And how did my mother cope with life on the mission station and with three young children – myself and my two brothers? None of this is touched on. My father mentions my mother once, in passing and we don’t feature – except one line with the fact that the youngest of us nearly died from diarrhoea!

On Tana River (A Story of Kenya's Tana Church)