Post Script: Summer of Ghosts – P.D.Viner

“Human beings can feel haunted by their actions, or their inactions.” (p.28)

Summer of Ghosts

Summer of Ghosts

P. D. Viner

Ebury Press

Random House

ISBN: 9780091953324

 

Description:

‘Beautiful skin…’

 

It begins with a father calling his daughter, but it is not his Pia who answers – it is her killer. He must listen, horrified, to the sounds of his only child being murdered, powerless to intervene, as the killer utters two chilling words.

 

Most men’s thoughts would turn to vengeance, but Pia’s father is far more resourceful than most. He is not the reserved businessman his daughter believed him to be, but Franco, a notorious London drug lord. And he will call in all his debts to find his daughter’s killer, including the one owed to him by Superintendent Tom Bevans.

 

Tom is a man haunted by grief; every unsolved case weighs heavily against his soul. And Tom has heard these two words before…

 

 

My View:

 

A brilliant follow on from The Last Winter of Dani Lancing – one of my favourite books. I love the characters in this series – particularly Tom Bevans – The Sad Man – who shows us a few more sides to his character than previously explored and Franco – a criminal you end up liking. I like that the character Franco allows the reader to consider the many sides to a person; Franco is not just a drug lord. Ultimately it is his role as Pia’s father that allows us to see the human side of Franco, to see that he is more the the sum of his numerous sins, more than the horrible experiences he faced as a child. Viner allows us to think about how we measure a person’s worth and how quick we are to judge, life really isn’t black and white, Viner allows us to see the grey.

 

The half a dozen or so major characters in this book are all haunted…by their actions or their inactions; BRILLIANT!

 

This is an engaging story, with plenty of plot twists and miss-directions to keep you enthralled in this fast paced adventure that weaves a few contemporary social and political issues into the mix for good measure. The ending will astound you…sorry no spoilers here. The question I want answered – is there a next book Phil?

Post Script: All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

Amor Vincit Omnia

All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places

Jennifer Niven

Penguin

ISBN: 9780141357034

 

 

Description:

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

 

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

 

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

 

My View:

The most moving book you will read this year. You will laugh and you most definitely will cry and you will fall in love.

 

Let me start with a confession – I love Theodore Finch – Finch in amazing – he is all the qualities you want to discover in a new relationship –caring, kind, puts you before him, understanding, considerate, romantic, a little outrageous, smart, intuitive, good looking….and there is so much more. Who cannot but help fall in love with someone who writes you notes like this: “You are all the colours in one, at full brightness.” The parts you don’t want to see or don’t discover until too late are tough but not unrepairable…you think…. amor vincit omnia. You have hope.

 

So whilst this is a story of young love, a beautiful, lyrical all-consuming romantic love, this is so much much more than a love story. The prose is beautifully written; poetic, lyrical, magical and at times hilarious, laugh out loud funny or make your eyes swell with tears sad and your throat constrict. The perspectives presented here about life and about coming to terms with grief, domestic violence, depression and loss – will resonate with most of us at some point in our life. The messages are poignant and pack a punch without sounding like a lesson is being delivered. But lessons you will learn whether you realise it or not.

 

I started reading this a month or so ago, I got caught up in story, in the lives of the two protagonists, Finch and Violet, I could picture them both in my head (Finch in particular – just speaks of Heath Ledger to me) I could see their homes, school, friends, classroom, parents … all clearly and I could feel a train wreck approaching. I put the book down (so unlike me) I didn’t want to know what was over that hill they were fast approaching…I had several ideas none of which played out but had the same end result, devastation. No spoilers here – this is a discussion for a book club…

 

Whilst this is distributed as a tens or YA read there is plenty of substance here to make this a novel for all – for there is something in this that will touch and warm everyone’s’ heart, there is something here we can all learn about and take with us on life’s journey. What more can I say – I still tear up thinking about this. Read it. Discover some beauty in this crazy world.

 

 

 

Post Script: What Was Lost – Catherine O’Flynn

What was lost

What Was Lost

Catherine O’Flynn

Holt Paperbacks

Henry Holt and Company

ISBN: 9780805088335

 

 

Description:

In the 1980s, Kate Meaney—“Top Secret” notebook and toy monkey in tow—is hard at work as a junior detective. Busy trailing “suspects” and carefully observing everything around her at the newly opened Green Oaks shopping mall, she forms an unlikely friendship with Adrian, the son of a local shopkeeper. But when this curious, independent-spirited young girl disappears, Adrian falls under suspicion and is hounded out of his home by the press.

 

Then, in 2003, Adrian’s sister Lisa—stuck in a dead-end relationship—is working as a manager at Your Music, a discount record store. Every day she tears her hair out at the outrageous behavior of her customers and colleagues. But along with a security guard, Kurt, she becomes entranced by the little girl glimpsed on the mall’s surveillance cameras. As their after-hours friendship intensifies, Lisa and Kurt investigate how these sightings might be connected to the unsettling history of Green Oaks itself. Written with warmth and wit, What Was Lost is a haunting debut from an incredible new talent.

 

My View:

Inspired by a blog post by Margot Kinberg – Confessions of a Mystery Novelist: http://margotkinberg.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/in-the-spotlight-catherine-oflynns-what-was-lost/ I sought out “What Was Lost” and what a remarkable read this little book turned out to be.

 

O’Flynn does a magnificent job of capturing the essence and voice of ten year old Kate Meaney – her small life; her home, her school, the people around her and her big ambition to become a junior detective and then that voice stops suddenly and we are transported twenty years on, Kate has disappeared or has she? There is a mystery here to be resolved.

 

What struck me most about this book was the author’s ability to convey a profound sense of loss: loss of identity, loss of life, loss of innocence, and the loss of Kate…Kate has such a profound effect on the people around her – at the start of the narrative and even twenty years on. There was closure here but that all pervading scent of loss lingers long after you finish reading this book…such sorrow, such a small life had such a huge impact…it is hard to imagine how many lives Kate would influence. You must read this book yourself to appreciate the authors special skills – her social commentary, her depiction of life in the ‘80s in small town America; the birth of the “mall and takeaway culture” we now normalise, O’Flynn’s views are insightful and I think ahead of her time. O’Flynn captures the essence of the small community – the good and the bad, her characters come alive in her settings. A great read.

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Let Her Go – Dawn Barker

Intense, fast moving with contemporary social issues, a great read.

Let Her Go

Dawn Barker

Hachette Australia

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733632228

 

 

Description:

How far would you go to have a family? What would you hide for someone you love?

 

Confused and desperate, Zoe McAllister boards a ferry to Rottnest Island in the middle of winter holding a tiny baby close to her chest, terrified that her husband will find her or that her sister will call the police.

 

Years later, a teenage girl is found on the island, unconscious and alone.

 

When she recovers and returns home, she overhears her parents discussing her past and the choices that they’ve made. Their secrets, slowly revealed, will shatter more than one family.

 

Let Her Go is a gripping, emotionally charged story of family, secrets and the complications of love. Part thriller, part mystery, it will stay with you long after you close the pages wondering…What would you have done?

 

 

My View:

Have you ever read a book where from the very beginning you go “oh no, something terrible is going to happen, I can just feel it?” This is one of those books; from the very first page I was hooked and I was on hyper alert, I just knew this narrative was not going to end well.  I was conflicted, I was so engaged with the narrative, with the characters, with the plot lines but at the same time I really didn’t want to turn the next page and discover that the “worst” had indeed happened. I read about one hundred pages and had to take a break; I needed an emotion free few days before I could pick this up again and complete the read.

 

And what a read it is – as with Ms Barker’s earlier book, Fractured, the characterisations and psychological profiling are superb. Ms Barker weaves an intricate plot that presents the reader with many contemporary social issues to consider and to place one’s self in the characters situations and wonder “what would I do/have done, would I do things differently?”

 

The pace is fast, the action and drama intense and personal and yet so easily identifiable with situations in our own lives or the lives of people we know and love it breaks your heart.  After finishing this book my only regret is that I will not be able to attend the Perth launch of this fantastic book.  Bravo Dawn Barker, I hope the launch goes brilliantly.

 

 

My View:

 

Post Script: Surrounded By Water – Stephanie Butland

A remarkably moving read – this review written with silent tears running down my face. I am holding in the sobs.

Surrounded by Water

Stephanie Butland

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Bantam Press

ISBN: 9780593071557

 

Description:

Elizabeth’s world is turned upside down when her husband dies in a tragic drowning accident.

 

How typical of her kind, generous husband – a respected police officer – to sacrifice his own life saving a complete stranger’s.

 

Or so she thinks.

 

What exactly was her husband doing at the lake that night? And what if his death isn’t the most difficult thing she will have to deal with?

 

Elizabeth must face the consequences of her husband’s actions. As she does so, it seems that the end of Mike’s life is only the beginning of his wife truly getting to know him.

 

My View:

 A remarkably moving read – this review written with silent tears running down my face. I am holding in the sobs.

A book that makes you really feel is unique and wonderful, a book that makes you cry is a gift to be treasured – this is such a book! I loved the way the author has the protagonist write letters to her dead husband…the letters are so moving, poignant and achingly sad and yet at the same time  share with the reader the wonder and marvel of  a true lasting love.

 

However there is an undercurrent of suspicion delicately woven into this narrative – just what was her husband up to on that fateful night and begs the question did he actually know this stranger he died to save? The mystery gently gnaws at your subconscious as you continue reading. This is a wonderful portrait of love, loss, grief and… infertility – I don’t think I have come across grief and grieving so authentically revealed – or love for that matter. The author gives her characters such great voices – I loved listening to them.

 

 

 

Post Script: Enon – Paul Harding

Enon, Paul Harding

Paul Harding

Enon

Random House

ISBN: 9781400069439

 

Description:

The next novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tinkers, in which a father’s grief over the loss of his daughter threatens to derail his life.

Powerful, brilliantly written, and deeply moving Paul Harding has, in Enon, written a worthy successor to Tinkers, a debut which John Freeman on NPR called “a masterpiece.” Drawn always to the rich landscape of his character’s inner lives, here, through the first person narrative of Charlie Crosby (grandson to George Crosby of Tinkers), Harding creates a devastating portrait of a father trying desperately to come to terms with family loss.

My View:

“I was walking in the woods, when Kate died,” and so with this profoundly sad introduction we are drawn into a story of a father imploding with grief and despair after his daughter dies in an accident.  This is a beautifully written stream of consciousness/internal monologue of grief, impending madness and drug addiction that will haunt your thoughts and prick your emotions.

Harding pens a visually rich landscape of settings and emotions as we join Charlie Crosby on his trip down memory lane as he recounts and sometimes hallucinates about past times spent with his daughter and his family juxtaposed against the images of his spiral into a drug induced state of numbness. He slowly shuts down and isolates himself with only his grief as a companion. This narrative is tragic and haunting yet there are moments of absolute joy and love when Crosby reminisces about times spent with his daughter;  their love shines like a beacon during the recollection of ordinary every day events – such as feeding the birds, taking a walk together, playing board games…having an ice-cream…

Harding writes beautiful prose. He writes wonderfully powerful emotive descriptions of the everyday… and of Crosby’s rapid descent into drug dependency and total despair as he attempts to deal with his grief and loss. This is a book that will engage the full spectrum of your emotions, it will take you to a place no parent ever wishes to go. A great read.