Genre: Literary Fiction

Early Review – The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

January 30, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2014 4 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Enchanted by Rene DenfeldThe Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
Published by Harper on March 4th 2014
Pages: 256
Genres: Fantasy, Literary Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss


A wondrous and redemptive debut novel, set in a stark world where evil and magic coincide, The Enchanted combines the empathy and lyricism of Alice Sebold with the dark, imaginative power of Stephen King

The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits. Fearful and reclusive, he senses what others cannot. Though bars confine him every minute of every day, he marries magical visions of golden horses running beneath the prison, heat flowing like molten metal from their backs, with the devastating violence of prison life.

Two outsiders venture here: a fallen priest, and the Lady, an investigator who searches for buried information from prisoners' pasts that can save those soon-to-be-executed. Digging into the background of a killer named York, she uncovers wrenching truths that challenge familiar notions of victim and criminal, innocence and guilt, honor and corruption-ultimately revealing shocking secrets of her own.

Beautiful and transcendent, The Enchanted reminds us of how our humanity connects us all, and how beauty and love exist even amidst the most nightmarish reality.

“This is an enchanted place. Others don’t see it, but I do.”

Underneath the ancient stone prison lies a space called the dungeon. Men that go there are never to return until their bodies are carried out after their execution. A man named York is kept their until his final days, which will be soon he has decided. The Lady is assigned to York’s case to search for lost information that will hopefully save him from his demise. The prison is a dark and violent place yet from one prisoners eyes, the narrator, it is transformed into an enchanted place that only he is able to see.

The Enchanted was an incredibly unsettling story. It’s about the monsters of society, the horror of humanity and its incredibly visceral and at times a bit too gratuitous for my liking. I understood going into this that it involved a prison and its inmates so I knew it wasn’t going to be a peaceful tale, but I loved the idea of the magical realism aspects with the golden horses that charge through the prison. Except that aspect failed to deliver for me. To me, when you incorporate magical realism into a story it needs to be woven into the story as a whole rather than bits and pieces interspersed sporadically throughout. It just made those bits and pieces feel ill-fitting and out of place.

‘I knew that I would never again see the beautiful soft-tufted night birds outside the window, never again sit in the library with the slanting sun through the bars. And that was okay, because I brought those ideas with me, stored in my heart.’

The haunting prose with lines of immense depth was incredibly well-done and was the only redeeming factor of this story. It’s not Stephen King-esque in the least bit but is still memorable. The information on prisons and life as a death-row inmate is incredibly detailed yet that apparently comes from the authors personal experience working as an investigator in death penalty cases. She explores the prison culture of this specific prison with its corrupted guards and all the dreadful things that go on when they turn a blind eye.

The story is told for the most part from the point of view of an unnamed (till the end) death row inmate who acts as an omniscient narrator. The role of omniscient narrator was inconceivable though when you consider this is a man relegated to a cell and wouldn’t have the ability for the information he’s divulging.We’re given information about his dark past, of the Lady, of York, of a priest who is employed by the prison, of the Warden and various other characters as well. I felt this left the story with a scattered sort of feel and would have been better off if York was left as the sole main character. The overwhelming amount of information of each individuals past was only spent on what made them flawed and essentially failed to distinguish them. Everybody has their own dark past yet that doesn’t have to define them is what I have surmised to be the moral of this story.

This is definitely an impressive first novel that I would have loved to love if not for the disquieting subject matter that I felt was overly and intentionally grim.


Audiobook Review – The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

September 7, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 8 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Metamorphosis by Franz KafkaThe Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Narrator: Benedict Cumberbatch
on 1915
Length: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Genres: Classics, Literary Fiction, Philosophy
Format: Audiobook
Source: BBC Radio 4 Extra


"One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug."

With this startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first sentence, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. It is the story of a young traveling salesman who, transformed overnight into a giant, beetle-like insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. Rather than being surprised at the transformation, the members of his family despise it as an impending burden upon themselves.

A harrowing–though absurdly comic–meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosis has taken its place as one of the most widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction. As W. H. Auden wrote, ”Kafka is important to us because his predicament is the predicament of modern man.”


‘I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.’

Imagine you go to bed one night with nothing out of the ordinary occurring only to wake up to find you have transformed into a monstrous insect overnight. Your family can no longer communicate with you, they no longer can even stand to look at you. You’ve become repulsive and abhorrent for seemingly no apparent reason. What do you do?

Everyone has heard of The Metamorphosis, Kafka’s literary masterpiece, a book that is obviously more than meets the eye. The story possessed a dream-like quality where nothing is ever considered appropriately, as Gregor accepted his transformation into insect form a lot more readily than one might normally. Many have attempted to form their own interpretations of the story but I personally can’t see it being anything other than a metaphor. While there are bound to be several different opinions on this, this is what I came up with:

Up until that life altering morning Gregor led an uneventful life where he worked constantly to support his family and in turn they steadily grew unproductive the more they began to depend on him. Gregor travels so often for work that communication between him and his family begins to cease and most importantly his family stops being appreciative of all he does for them and instead begins to simply expect it. That fateful morning he woke and began to contemplate his job and how terrible he finds it and if he didn’t have his parents to worry about he would have “given in my notice a long time ago, I’d have gone up to the boss and told him just what I think, tell him everything I would, let him know just what I feel.” The more and more he dwells on this the more he realizes what he does for them, what they don’t do and how his work ethic in order to support his family has in turn alienated them from him. By becoming the sole breadwinner of the family he transformed himself into an outsider, the transformation only becoming a physical interpretation when he realizes that himself.

I’ve never read Kafka before having always found myself intimidated by his works. When I discovered that the BBC Radio had produced a recording of this being read by Benedict Cumberbatch I jumped on the opportunity and I am so glad I did. I had listened to a clip of the audiobook that was released by Blackstone Audio and narrated by Ralph Cosham… that audiobook sat on my phone for so long I forgot about it because it sounded dreadfully dull. Benedict Cumberbatch truly brought this story to life and made this a real treat for me.


Short & Sweet – Atonement by Ian McEwan

July 13, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013, Short & Sweet Reviews 7 Comments

Short & Sweet – Atonement by Ian McEwanAtonement by Ian McEwan
Published by Anchor on February 25th 2003
Pages: 351
Genres: Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Romance
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

Also by this author: Sweet Tooth


Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.

On a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.

‘How guilt refined the methods of self-torture, threading the beads of detail into an eternal loop, a rosary to be fingered for a lifetime.’

I very rarely pick up a book if I’ve already seen the movie. Sure, there are likely to be differences but the experience is still spoiled for me. I had to make an exception with Atonement because I adored the movie but I could see how much more the story would shine and benefit from text. And shine did it ever.

Usually I complain about over-descriptiveness in stories, and this was definitely descriptive, yet the author possesses a skill in writing that is completely captivating. He sets the scene with ease and transports you into the very midst of it. His words envelop you and leave you mesmerized. I could go on and on regarding the beauty of this story and the multitude of emotions it managed to evoke in me but put simply, this book was a breath of fresh air.

I’ve been told this is the best to expect from Ian McEwan but I will still eagerly dive into more of his works.


Book Tour Review – The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy

June 27, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2013, TLC Book Tours 2 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van BooyThe Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy
Published by Harper on June 11th 2013
Pages: 224
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours


Award-winning author Simon Van Booy tells a harrowing and enchanting story of how one man's act of mercy during World War II changed the lives of a group of strangers, and how they each eventually discover the astonishing truth of their connection

Whether they are pursued by Nazi soldiers, old age, shame, deformity, disease, or regret, the varied characters of Simon Van Booy's utterly compelling novel The Illusion of Separateness discover in their darkest moments of fear and isolation that they are not alone, that they were never alone, that every human being is a link in an unseen chain.

This gripping, emotional story intertwines the stories of several compelling characters: a deformed German infantryman; a lonely British film director; a young, blind museum curator; Jewish-American newlyweds separated by war; a lost child on the brink of starvation; and a caretaker at a retirement home for actors in Santa Monica. The same world moves beneath each of them, and one by one, through seemingly random acts of selflessness, they discover the vital parts they have played in each other's lives, a realization that shatters the illusion of their separateness. Moving back and forth in time and across continents,

The Illusion of Separateness displays the breathtaking skill of, "a truly special writer who does things with abstract language that is so evocative and original your breath literally catches in your chest" (Andre Dubus III).

‘In a sense we are all prisoners of some memory, or fear, or disappointment-we are all defined by something we can’t change.’

The Illusion of Separateness tells the story of six different individuals who are all interconnected in ways they don’t even realize. The story begins in Los Angeles, CA in 2010 but goes as far back as 1939 in the midst of World War II. Through these first-person stories and the recounting of past events, it slowly begins to unfold how these seemingly random people are all effected by a strangers actions.

I’m quite enamored with interweaving story lines in movies (Crash, Babel, Love Actually, The Fountain.. I could obviously go on and on) relishing in the stories of many only to find just how interconnected they are to one another. It takes a skilled writer to successfully write several plot lines, connect them effortlessly and at the same time give each of them a proper ending. I was immediately interested in this book once I realized it dealt with multiple plot lines yet found myself leery when noticing how few pages the author gave himself to work with, made me worry that he wouldn’t give each and every one of his characters proper credit or back-story. While I wish I did have more back-story on these characters, what we were given was sufficient enough to make each of them memorable.

‘…finding the candles by heat, and blowing them out one by one, as we, one day, will be vanquished with a last puff and then nothing at all – nothing but the fragrance of our lives in the world, as on a hand that once held flowers.’

While the characters ‘illusion of separateness’ did on occasion feel strained and slightly forced this was still undoubtedly an enjoyable tale. Slow to build with a simplistic way of writing but was ultimately extremely pleasing in the end.

This post was a part of the The Illusion of Separateness blog tour.
Click the button below for a complete list of tour stops.

Early Review – Red Moon: A Novel by Benjamin Percy

April 30, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 2 Comments

I received this book free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Red Moon: A Novel by Benjamin PercyRed Moon: A Novel by Benjamin Percy
Published by Grand Cen­tral Publishing on May 7th 2013
Pages: 544
Genres: Literary Fiction, Paranormal
Format: eARC


They live among us.

They are our neighbors, our mothers, our lovers.

They change.
When government agents kick down Claire Forrester's front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she is. Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and hours later stepped off it, the only passenger left alive, a hero. Chase Williams has sworn to protect the people of the United States from the menace in their midst, but he is becoming the very thing he has promised to destroy. So far, the threat has been controlled by laws and violence and drugs. But the night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge...and the battle for humanity will begin.

‘Plagues don’t just kill people – and that’s what lobos is, a plague – they kill humanity.’

Red Moon deals with an alternate world history, one where lycans are real and all are aware of their existence. The story is told from several different points-of-view and spans several years. At its core, Red Moon is about xenophobia, racial discrimination and acts of terrorism, a subject that can be applied to today’s world even when you remove the lycan factor. It touches on several genres, but ends up ultimately being a blend of horror and dystopian.

With the multiple story lines, various points of view and length of elapsed time from the first to final page, Red Moon seemed like an attempt to write the lycan/werewolf version of ‘The Twelve’; key word attempt. The writing ended up being excessively descriptive and lacked a flow which left it feeling forced, like the author was attempting to incorporate poetry but resulted in an overall clunky feel. For example:

“He feels the snow of the Republic weighing him down and he feels the darkness of the grave pressing around the fire and infecting his vision so that there seems to be no separation between the living and the dead, a child born with a mud wasp’s nest for a heart and its eyes already pocketed with dust, ready to be clapped into a box and dropped down a hole.”

The strange way things were described:
“She strikes a match and drops it on the burner and a blue flare the size of a child foomps to life[…]”
“She is sitting on a rock the size of a buffalo skull […]”
“He imagines what his blood would taste like. Like cherry cough syrup.”

Then the occasional line(s) that caused some eye-rolling:
‘He hears a dripping and looks down to see the blood pooling from the open door. The blood of Trevor, uncorked by a bullet. It melts the snow into a red slushy pattern that reminds him of those Rorschach inkblot tests. What does he see? The fate that awaits him if he does not act.’
‘He consults his GPS one more time before finding the center and parking his bike on the wrong side of the street in front of a fire hydrant. Sometimes it feels good to be so wrong.’

And these lines just irritated me:
‘A black man named Jessie with half his teeth missing.’
‘The black man, Jessie, says, “Why are you telling him that?”‘
‘The black man’s chest is rising and falling with the rhythms of sleep.’

The first sentence is the initial introduction of Jessie and describing him as such isn’t an issue. It’s the subsequent sentences that irritated me. Simply calling him Jessie would’ve been perfectly fine.

I will give Percy major credit, his evident research worked magnificently in bringing this alternate world to life and making the lycans existence all the more real.
‘All known prion diseases affect the brain and neural tissue, creating vasuoles in the nerve fibers that eventually lesion and degenerate into spongiform encephalopathy.’
Detailed scientific explanations are given throughout the story and while they weren’t always easy to interpret (and caused extensive Google searching) it was refreshing to see some legitimate research being put into the world-building.

The ending is not tied up nicely with a pretty little bow, but I actually preferred the open to interpretation ending and I don’t usually. Despite this, I still believe Red Moon to be a standalone novel. In my opinion the author was trying to convey the situation as one that doesn’t ever truly end, that it’s an ongoing problem and doesn’t have an easy solution. I think giving it the ‘perfect ending’ would have been far too unrealistic. Setting aside my issue with the excessive descriptive writing style, I still really enjoyed the physics of the story. Benjamin Percy is definitely an author with a talent for storytelling.

Recommended for fans of The Passage by Justin Cronin and The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (although both are vampire novels) and readers looking for a literary story with paranormal elements.


Early Review – Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

February 19, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 10 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Life After Life by Kate AtkinsonLife After Life by Kate Atkinson
Published by Reagan Arthur Books on March 14th 2013
Pages: 544
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

Also by this author: Transcription


During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath. During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.
What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, she finds warmth even in life's bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here is Kate Atkinson at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.

“What if you had the chance to do it again and again, until you got it right? Would you do it?”
-Edward Beresford Todd

This is the story of Ursula Todd’s live(s), and of her death(s), and of how she lives when given a second chance. Each time she dies (and returns) she obtains a sense of deja vu from her past lives. She uses these bits of knowledge from these previous scenes of life to “get it right” and to change the outcome of her life now. Practice makes perfect after all.

The writing was flawless, albeit a tad hard to grasp at first. There’s a constant flipping back and forth between time and it was supremely difficult to determine which story went with which one, however it all comes together in the end. I found it best to simply read, absorb, and watch the story unfold without putting too much thought into it or keeping notes regarding what is happening with each date (speaking from personal experience, it’s completely unnecessary).

“No point in thinking, you just have to get on with life. We only have one after all, we should try and do our best. We can never get it right, but we must try.”

Despite her multiple chances to “get it right”, Ursula did not always succeed. She may have avoided one obstacle she encountered in a previous life only to run into another. As Ursula said, “We can never get it right, but we must try.” Life isn’t perfect, and even if you had multiple chances to go back and change things it still won’t be perfect. I think it also meant that sometimes we need to experience these imperfections in order to truly know how to “get it right”.

It was amazing to watch each scene transpire and be able to witness how one single act not only resulted in evading death (the second time around of course) but how drastically different her life often was. But what was even more amazing was finishing the story and fully grasping all the story lines that had been going on and having them all come together harmoniously. There truly aren’t enough adjectives in existence for me to properly describe how truly amazing I found this book to be. Life After Life was genius, superbly written, intricately detailed, and capable of an emotional resonance you won’t see coming.


Short & Sweet – Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer

February 5, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Read in 2013, Short & Sweet Reviews 0 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet – Frances and Bernard by Carlene BauerFrances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on February 5th 2013
Pages: 209
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss


A letter can spark a friendship.
A friendship can change your life.

In the summer of 1957, Frances and Bernard meet at an artists’ colony. She finds him faintly ridiculous, but talented. He sees her as aloof, but intriguing. Afterward, he writes her a letter. Soon they are immersed in the kind of fast, deep friendship that can take over—and change the course of—our lives.

From points afar, they find their way to New York and, for a few whirling years, each other. The city is a wonderland for young people with dreams: cramped West Village kitchens, rowdy cocktail parties stocked with the sharp-witted and glamorous, taxis that can take you anywhere at all, long talks along the Hudson River as the lights of the Empire State Building blink on above.

Inspired by the lives of Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell, Frances and Bernard imagines, through new characters with charms entirely their own, what else might have happened. It explores the limits of faith, passion, sanity, what it means to be a true friend, and the nature of acceptable sacrifice. In the grandness of the fall, can we love another person so completely that we lose ourselves? How much should we give up for those we love? How do we honor the gifts our loved ones bring and still keep true to our dreams?

In witness to all the wonder of kindred spirits and bittersweet romance, Frances and Bernard is a tribute to the power of friendship and the people who help us discover who we are.

An epistolary novel, or a novel written solely in personal letters mainly between main characters Frances and Bernard. The novel is said to of been influenced by the lives of Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell, however, Frances and Bernard are far from a carbon copy. In an author interview with Publisher’s Weekly, Carlene stated, “I didn’t want to write historical fiction, but I want readers to know that it was the temperaments, minds, and voices of these specific people that set me off.”

The beautiful writing was the only redeeming quality of this book for me, and it was quite beautiful. The story was heavily steeped in religious fervor. I found both Frances and Bernard to be quite a bore and their fanatical beliefs and constant discussion of them was really quite tiresome. As much personal details which are given in their letters there still managed to be a lack of connection between the reader and the characters themselves. I would naturally blame the style of writing, however, I was quite fond of the letters back and forth to one another. Reading a certain bit of the authors flawless prose was like a beacon of light, I only wish the entire novel shone more brightly as a whole.


Audiobook Review – Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

February 2, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 6 Comments

Audiobook Review – Lolita by Vladimir NabokovLolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Narrator: Jeremy Irons
Published by Random House Audio on June 27th 2006 (first published 1955)
Length: 11 hours and 32 minutes
Genres: Classics, Cultural, Literary Fiction, Romance, Russian
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library


When it was published in 1955, Lolita immediately became a cause célèbre because of the freedom and sophistication with which it handled the unusual erotic predilections of its protagonist. But Vladimir Nabokov's wise, ironic, elegant masterpiece owes its stature as one of the twentieth century's novels of record not to the controversy its material aroused but to its author's use of that material to tell a love story almost shocking in its beauty and tenderness.

Awe and exhilaration--along with heartbreak and mordant wit--abound in this account of the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America, but most of all, it is a meditation on love--love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation."

‘It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight.’

Lolita is likely one of the most controversial stories in 20th century literature to date. Lolita has been coined as a ‘love story’ and even ‘erotic’. In all honesty, this was simply Humbert attempting to convince himself (and others) that his actions were normal and completely justified. By the end pages, I could honestly say that Humbert believed wholeheartedly he truly loved Lolita, that he always had the best of intentions for her and that he was a good father to her. His version of love was of course far from normal and was quite sick and twisted indeed but because we’re only seeing this story from his point of view it’s obviously a biased and glamorized interpretation.

‘We live not only in a world of thoughts, but also in a world of things. Words without experience are meaningless.’

But to me that was the most amazing part of this story. When you really think about this story as a whole, you know what he did was wrong, you know that he changed that 12 year-old girl irrevocably and you can almost despise him for the fact that he blamed her for seducing him initially. However, despite all that, I know I’m not the only reader that struggled to not feel at least a slight bit of sympathy for him. And that’s the true brilliance of it.

‘And the rest is rust and stardust.’

Lolita is a truly remarkably written story that was undoubtedly shocking after its initial publication in 1955. I can’t help but find it severely unlikely though that it would have ever been published during this day and age.


Book Tour Review – Married Love: And Other Stories by Tessa Hadley

November 27, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2012, Short Stories, TLC Book Tours 0 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – Married Love: And Other Stories by Tessa HadleyMarried Love and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley
Published by Harper Perennial on November 20th 2012
Pages: 240
Genres: Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours


A girl haunts the edges of her parents' party; a film director drops dead, leaving his film unfinished and releasing his wife to a new life; an eighteen-year-old insists on marrying her music professor, then finds herself shut out from his secrets; three friends who were intimate as teenagers meet up again after the death of the women who brought them together. Ranging widely across generations and classes, and evoking a world that expands beyond the pages, these are the stories of Tessa Hadley's astonishing new collection.

On full display are the qualities for which Tessa Hadley has long been praised: her unflinching examination of family relationships; her humor, warmth and psychological acuity; her powerful, precise and emotionally dense prose. In this collection there are domestic dramas, generational sagas, wrenching love affairs and epiphanies-captured and distilled to remarkable effect. Married Love is a collection to treasure, a masterful new work from one of today's most accomplished storytellers.

‘He knew how passionately she succumbed to the roles she dreamed up for herself. She won’t be able to get out of this one, he thought. She can’t stop now.’

Married Love: And Other Stories is a collection of short fictional contemporary stories. Married Love is not all about domestic bliss. It’s about the every day struggles that the characters encounter. Each story is a showcasing of a brief moment that manages to convey an entire life without leaving one feeling incomplete by the shortness of it.

‘For a moment, however, she could imagine the sensation of chewing politely and sufferingly on a mouthful of broken crystal, tasting salty blood.’

Reviewing a collection of short stories is always difficult. Do you review each one individually? Do you rate them as a whole? All in all, the characters within her stories are strongly written and despite the fact that I certainly preferred a few more than others they all managed to shine in their own way. Her writing was stately and succinct and quite enjoyable. My interest has definitely been piqued and I would love to read more from this author.

‘I couldn’t help being swept along by the idea of someone changing who she was: I knew I wasn’t capable of this; I was just helplessly forever me.’

This post was a part of the Married Love blog tour.
Click the button below for a complete list of tour stops.

Early Review – Swimming Home: A Novel by Deborah Levy

September 28, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2012 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Swimming Home: A Novel by Deborah LevySwimming Home by Deborah Levy
Published by Bloomsbury USA on October 16th 2012
Pages: 157
Genres: Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley


Short-listed for the 2012 Man Booker Prize. With an Introduction by Tom McCarthy, author of C. As he arrives with his family at the villa in the hills above Nice, Joe sees a body in the swimming pool. But the girl is very much alive. She is Kitty Finch: a self-proclaimed botanist with green-painted fingernails, walking naked out of the water and into the heart of their holiday. Why is she there? What does she want from them all? And why does Joe's enigmatic wife allow her to remain?

A subversively brilliant study of love, Swimming Home reveals how the most devastating secrets are the ones we keep from ourselves.

“Life is only worth living because we hope it will get better and we’ll all get home safely.”

After spotting this on Netgalley I found myself intrigued but ultimately willing to wait for it to be published. A few days later the Shortlist for the 2012 Man Book Prize was announced and Swimming Home was included, so I decided it was fate that I stumbled upon this book yet again so I went ahead and snagged it.

Kitty, botanist, poet, and part-time exhibitionist suffering from depression, travels to France to meet poet Joe Jacobs who she insists she has a connection with. His wife, Isabel, inevitably gets invited to stay with him and his family and the couple that traveled with them. Isabel Jacobs, a war correspondent, is married to Joe; however, their marriage is in shambles and is obvious to anyone in their proximate vicinity. It is unclear to everyone why Isabel would allow such a girl as Kitty to stay with them, especially considering her obvious fascination with Joe.

“When Kitty Finch took her hand off the steering wheel and told him she loved him, he no longer knew if she was threatening him or having a conversation.”

Swimming Home is a short yet trying read that could almost be considered a novella or even a vignette; a snapshot of that fateful week in France. The writing was intermittently lovely but I found myself unclear as to where the story was going. I can’t help but feel I’m lacking in something by not being able to appreciate these ‘literary masterpieces’ as they should be. Comments were made by the judges of the Booker Prize this year that they’re steering clear of mainstream books and that readability isn’t high on their list of importance. Sir Peter Stothard was quoted as saying: “I felt very, very strongly that I wanted to avoid that thing where people say, ‘Wow, I loved it, it’s terrific’.” Suffice it to say, I did not finish this book and say, “Wow, I loved it, it’s terrific,” so I guess they got something right. I think it’s safe to say I won’t be venturing into anything else this man considers ‘literary masterpieces’, they’re simply not for me.