This lockdown I have been working full time, as usual, but when I’ve had a moment at home, I have found myself engrossed in more books than usual. Not visiting friends and relatives or going out to watch shows and eat popcorn at the local cinema has led to me having more disposable time. As a result, my book consumption has been higher than at any time in my life.
So, in an effort to put my recent reading together, I will refer to three intriguing novels that I have just finished reading. These have all been engaging and were very different to one another.
The Last Anniversary (Liane Moriarty)
I don’t know where to start with this unique book set on an island just off the coast of Australia, near Sydney. Steeped in mystery, the island is a tourist attraction that still maintains a profit many years after an event hit the headlines and started to draw in visitors of a curious nature.
Without giving anything away, it is about a family and traditions, a mystery which reaps rewards and dilemmas of conscience. A new member of the family, Sophie, who used to date the grandson of the matriarch, inherits a house on the island and is fully welcomed into the family (well apart from with Vanessa who certainly holds a grudge). She sees the family and their way of life from a new perspective and opens up a range of feelings amongst them.
Sophie is a likeable main character and allows us to look closely at the relationships on the island. The whole island is gearing up for its annual celebration of the mysterious event that made it famous. Everybody is rocked by what turns out to be a very enlightening evening.
Orfeia (Joanne Harris)
This is a story which is enchanting and steeped in mystery as well as fantasy. If you have read ‘A Pocketful of Crows’ or ‘The Blue Salt Road’ then you will already know how satisfying these stories are. It crosses from our world to the world of Dream and the world of Death.
Instead of a child mourning their parents, this story focuses on a mother who lost her daughter. She has visions of her daughter and is challenged to take on the Halloween King after a journey on the peculiar Night Train.
This type of magical story and the relationship it has to mythology is unique, satisfying and totally sucks you in. Joanne has a way with words which is clever, absorbing and heart-warming. The beautiful artwork that complements the text is a tribute to Bonnie Hawkins and her perceptive skills.
Love, Simon (Becky Albertalli)
This was one of those situations involving reading a book after I’d already seen the movie version. It did not in any way disappoint. The novel added so much extra detail and lovely insights into the character’s feelings as well as introducing me to the incredible narrative skills of Becky Albertalli.
Told by a teenage Simon, who is struggling to come to terms with being gay, it really shows a realistic picture of the conflicts going on when deciding whether or not to tell your family and friends about your personal life. The situations include a party where Simon is drunk for the first time and that classic experience of being part of a school play.
The friendships are supportive but small things can create cracks between Leah, Abbey, Simon and Nick. Everybody has their thing; everybody has their anxieties. Simon has to decide how much he will lose or gain by finally taking the chance to be HIMSELF.
I totally recommend all three of these wonderful books. One is a drama, one is magical and the third is a Young Adult story. All are magnificent in their own way.