2009 Booker Prize

Love and Summer – William Trevor

 Long Listed for the Booker Prize 2009

Love and Summer begins with a funeral. A mysterious stranger arrives and starts to photograph the mourners. A few of the guests spot him and are wary, especially because the deceased is said to own half the town. The plot builds slowly, through the observations of several members of the village.

I’m afraid that this was another one of those gentle books which failed to grab my attention. The character observations were amusing in places, but lacked the emotion I need to enjoy this sort of book. It was all too ordinary for me.

Unhurried in the wood, not wanting to hurry, Ellie reached out for these crowding memories. Cloonhill was gone now, closed down three years ago, the nuns gone back to the convent in Templeross. But you didn’t lose touch with a place when it wasn’t there any more; you didn’t lose touch with yourself as you were when you were part of it, with your childhood, with your simplicity then.

This book came across more as a portrait of an Irish village, than the story of any one person. There were a large number of characters, which further distanced me from each one.

The ending was quite satisfying, but the journey there was too slow and meandering.

There are a lot of similarities between this book and Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín, also long listed for the Booker Prize this year. I am sure that if you enjoy reading one, then you will love the other. Both books are observations of Irish life and leave more unsaid than is described on the page.

I know that a lot of people will love this book, but it just wasn’t for me.



Do you enjoy William Trevor’s writing?

Have you read any of his other books?


Links I’ve stumbled across this week

Book News

The  long list for the Guardian First Book Award 2009 has been announced. It is great to see The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey (one of my favourite books of the year so far) on the list, but I haven’t read any of the other books. Have you?

Steven Spielberg hooks Michael Crichton’s pirate adventure.

James Kelman rants about Scottish literature.

Booker sales flatten after longlist boost.

Books added to the wish list this week

Fizzy Thoughts made me want to read The Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim

Nymeth recommended Saplings by Noel Streatfeild . This was the Persephone book which intrigued me the most during Persephone Reading Week, hosted by Claire from Paperback Reader and Verity from The B Files. I’d like to congratulate them both on an amazing week. They did a great job promoting these books and my wish list has just grown to include all of the titles from this publisher! Thank you!


bbaw-button2009Thank you so much to everyone who nominated for a BBAW Award! I was nominated for best general reviews blog, best literature review blog, best reviews, best writing, best new blog, most altruistic blog and best commenter – thank you so much! Finding I had been nominated for so many awards was one of the happiest moments in my blogging career.

zombie_chicken_awardJenny from Jenny’s Books awarded me the Zombie Chicken award. Thank you so much! If you haven’t seen Jenny’s blog then you should go and take a look. She writes really good reviews.

She has just reviewed a scary graphic novel which sounds great: Bayou, Vol. 1, Jeremy Love & Patrick Morgan I was thinking about buying it, but I’m just not sure I could cope with the nightmares she says I’ll get if I read it!

BethFishReads awarded the Kreativ blogger award to me. Thank you Beth!

Beth was one of the earliest subscribers to my blog and has been there for me ever since. She is one of my favourite bloggers.

Blogging Other

Google Wonder Wheel

Have you seen google wonder wheel?

It is an interesting new way to search through topics on the Internet and discover the terms people are searching for.

To find google wonder wheel go to, type in the topic you’d like to search for and then click on Show Options once the search results have appeared.

In the left hand column you will find the Wonder Wheel option.

Here is the wonder wheel I obtained when I searched for ‘popular books’.

popular books

It is great to see Audrey Niffenegger appearing, although the recent release of  The Time Traveller’s Wife at the cinema and the approaching release of Her Fearful Symmetry mean that this isn’t very surprising.

It is then possible to spider web down the categories. So here is the web created when I clicked on classic books:classic books

This is a great way to brain storm new blog post ideas, discover new web sites and waste hours of your time!

Have you seen this feature before?

Do you think you will make use of it?

2009 Booker Prize

Heliopolis – James Scudamore

Long listed for the Booker Prize 2009

For the third time this year the Booker long list has produced an amazing book that I would otherwise have missed.

Heliopolis is set in a futuristic Sao Paulo and follows Ludo, who was born in a shanty town, but then given great wealth after being adopted by one of the richest men in the city. Ludo then falls in love with his adoptive sister, Melissa, which leads to a clever, humorous plot, as he tries to deal with his conflicting emotions.

I have a recurring nightmare in which Melissa probes around in my belly button with one of the sharp metal skewers my mother used for weekend barbecues. She stares intently into my navel, manipulating the skewer, and I feel its cold metal point enter my stomach. Eventually, she achieves her objective, and unknots my umbilical cord. My intestines gush to the floor like a string of raw sausages.

The main issue the book covers is the social divide between those living in complete poverty, and the elite who can afford everything. Heliopolis is cleverly written to show the difficulty Ludo feels in belonging to his new, rich world.

Loneliness should be hard to come by in the forest, but the white noise of animals getting on with their business was never a consolation. It only reminded me how sure most living things were of their place in the world, while I was not.

Although the squalor is vivid, the poor are described in a dignified way. The result is that I had great empathy for the under-class and at many times felt they had the better life.

This book has everything: humour, great characters, clever plot, a moral message and a wonderful ending. It gripped me throughout.

Highly recommended.


Did you love this book as much as I did?

Have you read his previous book The Amnesia Clinic?

2009 Booker Prize Recommended books

The Glass Room – Simon Mawer

 Long listed for the Booker Prize 2009

The Booker long list has rewarded me with another great book that I would never normally have picked up. The Glass Room has an unusual concept, in that the book is based upon a building rather than a person.

Built on a hillside from glass and steel in the 1930s, the building is famous in it’s small Czech town. The book follows the construction of the The Glass Room, followed by the history of it’s occupants over several decades.

I have to admit that the first few chapters would have normally been enough to return this book to the library. I have no real interest in architecture, so the descriptions of the design and construction of the building, although clearly well written and researched, did not hold my attention. Luckily I persevered, and once the Glass Room was complete, the plot concentrated on Viktor and Liesel Landauer, the rich couple who commissioned the building. The dream life in their beautiful new home is short lived as the threat of war looms closer. Viktor is a Jew, so although I don’t want to give anything a way, you can imagine that his life is going to be difficult.

Over the years, the building has many different uses and it was fascinating to see how things changed. This book does concentrate on the war years and so many of the scenes were disturbing.

How do you dismember a body? There are two fundamentally different approaches – that of the surgeon and that of the mad axeman. The one is cool and calculating and progressive, with the application of bone-saw, scalpel and shears. The other is a frenzy of hacking and tearing, with blood everywhere and the taste of iron in the mouth. But whichever way you do it the result is the same – dismemberment.  

The quote actually describes the break up of Czechoslovakia, but I thought it was a good example of the descriptive nature of the book. It is quite depressing in places, so is the sort of thing you should only read when you are in the right mood.

I loved the writing. It flowed beautifully, but also contained many great observations:

Ever since Man came out of the cave he has been building caves around him.

Overall I found this to be an engaing, well plotted book, with great characters and a lovely ending. The originality and quality of the writing mean that I am sure this book will make the Booker short list.




I had not heard of Simon Mawer before, but he has written quite a few books.

Have you read any of them? Which ones do you recommend?


RIP IV Challenge


After finding The Victorian Chase-Longue funny, rather than scary, I am in the mood to find a book that will really frighten me. I saw that Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting the RIP Challenge and so jumped at the opportunity to commit to reading a few.

The idea is to read as many books from the following categories as you can between now and Halloween.

Dark Fantasy.

I am going to read these books:

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveller’s Wife is one of my favourite books, so I have been looking forward to the release of this book all year.

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro
Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog couldn’t decide whether The Strain was better than Catching Fire (Hunger Games Trilogy) or Little Bee / The Other Hand. The dilemma was too intriguing for me to resist. I am really looking forward to finding out which is the best!

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
I found this book in a charity shop recently: Three Gothic Novels: The Castle of Otranto, Vathek, Frankenstein. The Castle of Otrano is said to be the most Gothic of the three. It was first published in 1765. I am really looking forward to finding out what one of the first Gothic novels is like.

I may read another one or two, if I find anything interesting that fits in, but I hope to read the three above very soon.

Have you read any of these ?

Are you planning to join the RIP Challenge?