28 December 2014
Depression is not something I have written about here before, sadly it is a subject that many shy away from in a manner reminiscent of our Victorian ancestors. It is a major theme of a book I read this month, one that I would call a marmite book judging by the reviews I have read. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is a long book, too long for some but not for me. I remember reading a précis of the plot not long after this book was first published and thinking that the book was not for me. I found it on the shelves of our local library and started to read the first few pages and was pulled into the book and there I stayed, hooked, until the end. My parents are both still alive, I cannot imagine how I will feel when they are no longer with us. Theo Decker, the main character, is just thirteen when his mother dies. She was the centre of his world. At thirteen we are a minor in the eyes of the law, in need of looking after when the person who provides that dies and is not replaced it is little wonder to me that Theo reacts in the way he does, befriending another teenager in a similar situation and immersing himself in many murky worlds. If you not able to make peace and come to terms with events in your past they will haunt you for the rest of your life as his mothers' death does for Theo. The title of this book is taken from a painting which Theo acquires at the beginning of the story and keeps hold of despite knowing that it should be returned. By keeping hold of it, it haunts him, its very presence serving as a replacement for that which he has lost further adding to his bewilderment as he struggles to come to terms with an adulthood riddled with his unmet childhood needs. I absolutely loved this book as have the previous two novels by Donna Tartt.
Reading Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters straight after reading the Goldfinch may, in hindsight, have not been the best choice. I wanted something shorter and lighter, this book ticks both those boxes however the shorter length means that you don't get the in depth character analysis. This book is set in the 1940s and the present day and examines the lives of two women connected by a letter and a suitcase, it is an examination of what it is to love and be loved by our mothers and then later in life by men. I enjoyed this book despite it leaving me wanting more.
I managed to pick up a second book, without realising it at the time which is very similar to my last book. The Lightkeeper's Wife by Karen Viggers is another book set in the modern day and the past. It also centres on two characters this time a mother and son. This mother is coming to the end of her life and desires to make peace with her last before she dies. Her son meanwhile has been struggling to come to terms with an event in his past which has placed his life on hold ever since. This book examines some relationships but there was one in particular which was not explained and I found this rather frustrating.
In a rare bizarre coincidence the last book I have read this month is also one which moves from the present to the past, however in The Last Boat Home by Dea Brøvig it is the main character's life we are examining in those two time periods. A debut novel for this author it is set in a small town in Norway in the 70s and the present day, it examines the harsh life and sacrifices the main character makes through the love for her mother and later in life her own daughter and grand daughter. There was a point in this book that I nearly stopped reading as I had started to lose interest but something made me pick it up again and I am glad I read to the end. I have read reviews that compare this book to Burial Rites by Hannah Kent a book I read my self not so long ago, I can see parallels between the two books although the subject of each is very different.
I am going to give fiction a wee break and read a book I was given for Christmas The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane, it is a walk of discovery thorough the old routes in the UK. I am looking
forward to this book as I have been wanting to read this for a while now.
Linking up with A Year in Books