Mick Jackson has only written a few books, but what he has written is pretty special. His first book, The Underground Man, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His new book, The Widow’s Tale, is really good. The story begins with a woman running out of her house, very distraught, jumping into her car and driving away. She ends up on the Norfolk coast, an area we begin to understand is important to her story. Her husband has just died, and she is fleeing from her unrelenting grief and the the wreckage of her marriage. She rents a small house in a fishing village and tries to come to terms with where her life has led. Sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, it’s a great story.
This book has been around for a little while and even won last year’s Indie Award, an award organised and voted on by independent bookstores like us. It’s the author Craig Silvey’s second book, and now is on the shortlist for this year’s Miles Franklin award. Minna read it this week and said Í just dont want it to finish and I now want to read his first novel’. It says something if you want to read an author’s previous work. The story is about two boys in the country. Charlie is a thirteen year old nerd, his friend Jasper Jones is a mixed race outcast in this mining town. Jasper comes to Charlie one night asking for help, for Jasper has made a horrible discovery in the bush and he doesn’t know how to handle it. He knows he’ll get blamed for it. So he wants Charlie’s help in uncovering the truth. This is a very good book and if you haven’t read it yet, do grab a copy now.
If you haven’t read any Jeff Abbott before and you like fast paced action reading, try this one. The story really moves quickly and the unravelling of the plot is nice, taut and not too predictable. Sam Capra is with the CIA in London. He’s happily married, his wife Lucy is expecting their first child, all is right with the world. Then one morning he’s at work and Lucy rings him on his mobile to tell him to get out of the building, right now. He runs out quickly and the building explodes behind him. He finds his wife has been kidnapped and the CIA seem to think that he has orchestrated these events, because why did he escape just before the explosion? Sam decides to find out what has happened – has his wife been part of an overseas spy network? This book is a great way to fill in a rainy afternoon.
Maggie O’Farrell always makes us wait a couple of years for her next novel, so at last her new book, The Hand That First Held Mine, has arrived. It’s a story of two women, separated by fifty years. We meet Lexie as a young girl at her parent’s Devon home where she is chafing at the bit to get away to the excitement of London and really live her life. When she meets Innes Kent, peering through the hedge seeking help after his car breaks down, she decides she can wait no longer and takes off to London with him. Fifty years later we meet Elina and Ted, coping with the birth of their first baby. Elina, a painter, is having trouble dealing with her newborn, with the lack of sleep and with no longer having the time to paint. And these two women are connected. It’s a great story.
I dont know if you were one of the lucky people who read Brady Udall’s novel The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, the story of a half apache little boy who was run over by a mail truck and later was determined to find the mail man to tell him that he survived and forgave him. It’s stunning fiction, published 2002. Udall has just published his second novel, The Lonely Polygamist, and again, Udall has nailed it. This is the story of Golden Richards, a polygamist Mormon who has four wives and twenty-eight children. He is a man you just cant help but warm to as he stumbles from one crisis to another. His construction business is failing, he tells his wives the brothel he is building in Nevada is actually a senior citizen centre. He seems to be drifting further apart from his huge brood of a family and his loneliness is overwhelming. This is a dark comedy, brilliantly written. A book you MUST read.