I went to France last week. It was our first holiday abroad since we had Freya (SEVEN YEARS AGO) and I have to tell you, it was pretty damn groovy.
We stayed in a lovely mobile home at a place called Camping Du Lac De Jaunay, in the Vendée. Here it is;
Would you like to know what they were and what I thought of them?
Shame by Melanie Finn (only available in silly hardback at the moment).
This is the story of Pilgrim Jones, who has travelled to a remote part of Africa to escape her past, after divorce and a tragic accident leave her with little reason to remain where she is.
This is a book that I can't quite categorise (which is a good thing). It's a thriller, a book about loss, guilt, and it has a cracking unexpected turn.
Great story, great atmosphere, fantastic sense of place. There were a couple of moments where you had to suspend your disbelief, but I was drawn into the story and loved it.
Pilgrim is not a likeable character, despite the tragedy that has befallen her. She is almost simply a vessel for the story. But Melanie Finn writes wonderfully and I would encourage you to seek this out.
Fish Net by Kirstin Innes (available in a sensible paperback stylee)
Fiona is stuck in a mundane office job, but everything changes when she finds out that her sister Rosa, who disappeared six years previously had been working as a prostitute.
As she furthers the search for Rosa, her life and attitudes change dramatically.
An enjoyable and thought provoking novel, that risks being preachy, but to my mind pitches itself just about right.
The characters were realistic.I particularly liked Fiona, who was uncomfortably and refreshingly true to life. The story (in most parts) was believable, and it was a book whose subject matter was dealt with in a uncharacteristically positive way.
I am very pleased I read it.
The Good Son by Paul McVeigh (paperback, innit)
Ireland. Mickey Donnelly is the smartest kid in class. His smartness is only matched by his imagination. Sadly for him, this makes him a target. Mickey is at a school in Belfast during the peak of the Troubles.
His Da is an alcoholic and his older brother Paddy is drawn to the IRA. Mickey's relationship with his little sister Wee Maggie is very special, but not as special as the one with his Ma, who despite the fierce words and smacks around the head, he loves unconditionally.
He's about to go to secondary school and he is the only one in his school who's been accepted at St Malachy's Grammar School.
He thinks this is his chance to escape, but then this chance is snatched away from him.
This story covers the eight weeks of Mickey's summer holiday, after leaving primary school and preparing to deal with life in secondary school with the same bullies he's put up with for the previous few years.
It is stormingly brilliant. Mickey is a superb character. Paul McVeigh brings him to life in a very special way. This book made me cry. Twice (maybe 4 times).
I rate this book.
All three of these books have been shortlisted for The Guardian's Not The Booker Prize, and there'll be a chance to see all six (hopefully) of the shortlisted authors here at the Big Green Bookshop on Saturday October 10th, when the Not the Booker will be holding its ONLY event!
More details HERE.
I shall be reading the other three titles over the next few weeks.
As you were.