I am going to make this a quarterly round-up from now on, as I don’t always have time or energy to review all the books I have read but I have discovered some brilliant new authors this year which I feel I can’t fail to mention. A few of these I have reviewed, so I’ll post a link rather than writing something new. So, without further introduction, here is what I have enjoyed reading so far this year:
The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall – a beautifully evocative book which follows the fortune of Cy Parks, a tattoo artist. The story is split into two halves – the first showing his growing up and apprenticeship in Morecombe Bay to an alcoholic, who is nethertheless a master at his trade, and the second as his emigrates to America and sets up a tattoo parlour on a slowly fading Coney Island.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – an incredible story of a strong female friendship set in Naples which perfectly captured the competitiveness and complexity of relationships between young women.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout – A series of short stories which follow the fate of retired schoolteacher Olive Kitteridge. Olive is such a complex and interesting character and the stories all made me think hard about the meaning of life and how people respond to certain crises (there were some humourous moments too in case I’m making it sound too heavy!) Although each story could be read separately, together they work almost as a novel of Olive’s later life.
The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies – these short stories blew me away. Not only are they brilliantly written, they each have a twist which – despite knowing after a few stories that there must be one coming – I could never work out in advance! There were also a few ‘that is so true’ moments, especially one couple’s argument whilst one of them is trying to navigate on a car journey!
It is a testament to how much I enjoyed these books that I only have one of them left in my possession – the rest have been loaned out to various friends as a ‘you must read this immediately’! Have you read anything so far this year that you can’t stop talking about? Have you read any of the books I have mentioned? I have just finished ploughing through Midnight’s Children so a review on that is forthcoming…