A simply astonishing and marvellous book about a man called Jude.
His story is painful, almost unbearable to read at times, but Jude is never portrayed as a victim – instead he illuminates the novel with a rare kind of beauty.
I started the novel not knowing what to expect and from its opening pages found it utterly addictive.
Kate Atkinson’s totally absorbing Life After Life explored the question ‘what if you could live your life over and over again?’.
This is the companion piece and the novelist’s intelligence and playfulness with time is just as assured, but for me this is a deeper and darker book that explores the holes left in the future by actions in the past.
The ending haunts me.
I take my hat off, or salute, or both to Laline Paull who managed to write an entire, totally credible and page-turning novel from the point of view of a bee.
I love the imagination that is in every page.
You can be a little pompous and talk about its symbolism in regard to totalitarian regimes (which of course it has in abundance) but it also works as a straight-up story of a bee – fantastic.
I do love a good dystopian novel – Cormac McCarthy’s The Road being, for me, the most powerful – but Station Eleven is different, in that I found it oddly positive.
An orchestra and theatre troupe wander a post-deadly-virus world, offering music and Shakespearian plays to people who have survived.
In the book there is a museum set up for the time before the virus and in it are so many things – almost everything – which we take for granted.
For days I couldn’t switch on a kettle or a light, travel by train or use my mobile without being a little in wonder at our extraordinary modern civilization.
A searing novel about Japanese prisoners of war working on the brutal Burma Death Railway.
The author’s father was a POW and this is a heartfelt and unflinching portrayal.
The story chronicles the worst that mankind is capable of, but is also shot through with moments of love, courage and selflessness.
Faultlessly constructed and beautifully written, the novel follows Marie Laure, a French girl who is blind and Werner, a German boy during World War Two.
It took the author ten years to write it and the result is hypnotic storytelling.
I re-read this classic recently and was struck by its similarity to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.
In both novels, the narrator is on the outside watching a charismatic circle that seem only to connect with each other. It’s a brilliant device.
F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that all good writing is like swimming under water holding your breath and I like to think of him reaching the shore of this novel, taking a gasp of air and realising what a great book he’d written.
This novel was reviewed as a comedy and as having an astonishing twist, but I think above all it’s a brave book that makes us look at the way we treat animals.
Mid-way through the book, and shocked by what I was reading, I also wanted to shout Brava! A book that changes attitudes while not seeming to do so at all . . .