I am sharing with you my favourite books that I have read so far this year. When it comes to books, I read pretty much anything except Science Fiction. And I don’t really like anything too violent. I am the same when it comes to the telly. (I started ‘Gangs of London’ but could not cope with it).
I have been using books to help me cope with our present worldwide situation. When I want to forget about Covid-19, there is nothing better than a good book to transport you to other lands and other times. Yes, you can lose yourself temporarily in a good book. Here are some recent favourites.
AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins
Inspired by the thousands of migrants who cross the US-Mexico border every year, this book will keep you on the edges of your seats from beginning to end. A good woman is on the run with her young son after her journalist husband and her entire family are murdered by a vicious cartel and her aim is to enter the United States.
The author, an American citizen who married an undocumented immigrant, spent four years researching her story. The statistics in the book are frighteningly true. The characters, though representative of the people that the author met on her travels, are entirely fictional.
This one might be my book of the year. Last year it was ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens. If you are a reader, you will have heard of it already.
THE TAINTED by Cauvery Madhavan
This book will delight, educate and enthral in equal measure. Set in India, you will become absorbed in the love stories. But you will also learn a lot about Indian culture and our common connection that is Indian/Irish history. Did you know that there are thousands of Irish descendants in India?
Originally from India, Cauvery Madhavan has lived in Ireland for the past 33 years. The author uses the the real mutiny in India in 1920 of The Connaught Rangers (renamed The Kildare Rangers in her book), who were protesting against the atrocities committed by The Black and Tans back in Ireland as a springboard for the story.
Absorbed from the opening pages, you are drawn in by her sympathetic characterisation of the main characters. There are two love stories which though sixty years apart are connected through history. And questions are answered.
It is very appropriate for the present time as one of its themes is racism. In this case, it is the plight of the Anglo-Indian (half-English and half-Indian – ‘the tainted’ – but rejected by both) that is the focus of the novel.
You can learn more about the book and the author in this very entertaining podcast, where Cauvery talks about her book and Indian politics among other things. And how wonderful is the cover, which I believe is based on 1920s’ matchbox designs.
TATTY by Christine Dwyer Hickey
I read this book years ago and loved it and re-read it recently. It is one of those books that lingers on in the mind long after you finish it. Set in Dublin in the 1960s/1970s, it is authentic to its time. The voice of the child narrator, so honest and innocent, will tug at your heart strings, as you follow her childhood story (aged 4 to 14) and her parents’ increasing dependence on alcohol and the devastating effects it had on Tatty and the family. Beautiful and heart-breaking in equal measure.
First published in 2004, ‘Tatty’ has won critical acclaim and was announced as the ‘Dublin One City One Book’ winner for 2020 where hopefully it will reach a totally new audience. I have the author’s latest book ‘The Narrow Land‘ on order and look forward to reading it soon. It has won many awards already and it looks like Christina Dwyer Hickey is finally getting the recognition she deserves.
THE HUNTING PARTY and THE GUEST LIST by Lucy Foley
If you are looking for a good thriller, Lucy Foley has won accolades for her mastery of the contemporary psychological thriller. I liked both of these, but do not read one after the other as the styles are similar.
‘The Hunting Party’, her debut crime novel, is set in a remote hunting lodge in the Scottish wilderness. A group of friends gather for a New Year weekend. The author is a master of suspense and the tension mounts right up until the climax. This perfect creepy thriller will keep you on your toes. Everyone is a suspect but will you guess the identity of the killer?
‘The Guest List’ is set in a remote island off the west coast of Ireland. This time, a wedding brings old and new friends and family together for what should be the perfect day. But all is not what it seems and as secrets come to light and a storm rages, everything unravels.
Lockdown has given me the time to read more than usual. Now that I am back seeing the grandchildren again and playing golf, time is more limited. Check out my previous book reviews of ‘The Middle Place’ and ‘It’s Who We Are’.
Say safe my friends. Keep reading.