1980s Booker Prize

Hotel du Lac – Anita Brookner

 Winner of the Booker Prize 1984

In my quest to read all the Booker prize winners I was convinced that this tiny book would be one of the quickest, easiest reads. It is only 184 pages, long, but the type and size of the book make it appear even smaller. Unfortunately, the content of the book made it feel as though it would never end. I was bored from page one, and it took enormous effort and determination for me to complete it.

The central character, Edith Hope, is sent to recuperate in a quiet Swiss hotel after becoming involved in a scandal. Whilst staying in the hotel Edith works on her new romance novel and observes the people around her. There is no real plot – this is one of those quiet, reflective books that I don’t enjoy reading.

I found Edith’s character to be slightly odd and I didn’t seem to find the same things amusing as her. The humor was lost on me and I became increasingly irritated by her passive nature. There was far too much thought and hardly anything happened in the entire book.

The pianist, sitting down to play, gave her a brief nod. She nodded back, and thought how limited her means of expression had become: nodding to the pianist or to Mme de Bonneuil, listening to Mrs Pusey, using a disguised voice in the novel she was writing and, with all of this, waiting for a voice that remained silent, hearing very little that meant anything to her at all.

This book reminded me of Home by Marilynne Robinson and I am sure that if you like one, then you will enjoy the other.

I’m afraid this just wasn’t for me.


I know that a lot of people love the quiet beauty of this book.

Did you enjoy reading it?

Do any of her other books have more plot?

Booker Prize Other

The Booker longlist 2009

The standard of writing on the longlist this year was outstanding. I was very impressed with the books chosen, and although I enjoyed some more than others, I felt that every single one deserved it’s place on the list.

Unlike in previous years, when I have occasionally wondered what on Earth those Booker judges were doing, this year I have enormous respect for them. They have chosen an amazing selection of books and I was very pleased to discover some wonderful new authors.

The 2009 Booker longlist, ranked by my rating
(Note: This is no reflection of the writing quality, just how much I enjoyed reading them)

The Wilderness – Samantha Harvey stars51

Heliopolis – James Scudamore stars4h

How to Paint a Dead Man – Sarah Hall stars4h

The Glass Room – Simon Mawer stars4h

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters stars4

Brooklyn – Colm Tóibín stars3h

Not Untrue and Not Unkind – Ed O’Loughlin stars3h

The Quickening Maze – Adam Foulds stars3h

The Children’s Book – A. S. Byatt stars3h

Summertime – J.M. Coetzee stars3

Love and Summer – William Trevor stars3

Me Cheeta – James Lever stars1 (DNF)

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel stars1 (DNF)

Deciding which books to put on the short list is going to be a very hard decision for the judges this year. The standard of the writing is incredibly high.

There were four books that stood out for me though. I am certain these four will make it onto the short list:


The final two places are harder to decide. I think it will come down to a choice between these four:


I really don’t know how the judges will make up their minds, but if I had to guess then I think the Booker short list will look like this:


The Booker short list is announced on 8th September.

Do you think my predictions will come true?

Which books do you think will make it onto the short list?

Which book from the long list was your favourite?

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?

Booker Prize Other

The Booker long list 2009 has been announced…..

The long list this year is….

The Children’s Book by AS Byatt  stars3h
Summertime by JM Coetzee
The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds
How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall
The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey  stars51
Me Cheeta: The Autobiography by James Lever
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel stars1
The Glass Room by Simon Mawer
Not Untrue and Not Unkind by Ed O’Loughlin
Heliopolis by James Scudamore
Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín stars3h (review coming soon)
Love and Summer by William Trevor
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters stars4

I have read 5 of the list, counting Wolf Hall which I didn’t manage to finish.

I have just ordered the rest of the list, so I’m afraid you’ll have to put up with quite a few Booker books on my blog for the next few months.

I am so happy that Wilderness made the long list. I really hope it wins, as it is one of my favourite books of the year so far.

What did you think of the list?

Are you planning to read them all?

2009 Historical Fiction

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel


I have seen several people tip this book for the Booker prize this year, and so decided to give it a try. Unfortunately this book was even more disappointing than The Children’s Book, which I think will win this year’s prize despite the fact it wasn’t for me.

Wolf Hall is set in Tudor England and tells the story of Thomas Cromwell, one of the lesser known people from this period in history, but a man with huge influence over Henry VIII. The book concentrates on the time around Henry’s divorce to Catherine of Arragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn, a period in history which has been covered many times before, most successfully in The Other Boleyn Girl.

A book has to be outstanding to grab my attention when I know the story already and I’m afraid this book wasn’t. The writing was very clunky and didn’t flow smoothly. I found that I had to keep re-reading sections in order to work out the intended meaning.

One day my brother Tom goes out fighting. As punishment, his father creeps up behind him with a whatever, but heavy, and probably sharp, and then, when he falls down, almost takes out his eye, exerts himself to kick in his ribs, beats him with a plank of wood that stands ready to hand, knocks in his face so that if I were not his own sister I’d barely recognise him: and my husband says, the answer to this, Thomas, is go for a soldier, go and find somebody you don’t know take out his eye and kick in his ribs, actually kill him, I suppose, and get paid for it. 

I also found repetition, which I found irritating:

He hopes you are well. Hopes I am well. Hopes his lovely sisters Anne and little Grace are well. He himself is well. 

and descriptions which didn’t make any sense to me:

A wash of sunlight lies over the river, pale as the flesh of a lemon.

I never think of lemons as being pale. Is it just me?

The more I read, the more I disliked this book. It was getting to the stage where I wanted to throw it across the room, and as this book is 650 pages long that would be a dangerous thing to do. For the safety of my household I decided to stop reading the book after about 120 pages – I just couldn’t face 500+ more pages of it.

I skim read the rest and had a quick look at the ending, but nothing I saw made me regret putting it down.

Recommended to anyone with a Tudor obsession, but I think the writing style and the length of this book will be off-putting to some people.



Hilary Mantel has written several other books, including Beyond Black, which was short listed for the Orange prize in 2006.

Have you read any of her books? What did you think of them?

Booker Prize Other

Who is going to be on the Man Booker Longlist 2009?

The longlist for the Booker Prize is going to be annouced next week.

Here are my predictions for books which will make the list:

The Children’s Book – A. S. Byatt

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel

Kieron Smith, Boy – James Kelman

The Island at the End of the World – Sam Taylor

The Wilderness – Samantha Harvey

Brooklyn – Colm Toibin

Taste of Sorrow – Jude Morgan

Blackmoor – Edward Hogan

The Winter Vault – Anne Michaels


I really hope that The Wilderness wins the Booker Prize this year, but I have a feeling that The Children’s Book will win.

In many ways I hope that my predictions don’t come true. I’m really hoping that I discover some great new books via the list this year, and it isn’t just packed with previous winners.

Who do you think will win the Booker Prize 2009?

Who else do you think will make the longlist?

The longlist will be announced on 28th July 2009. Are you planning to read the Booker list this year?