May Books – Quick Lit

Maisie Dobbs – Jacquelin Winspear

I fancy myself an amateur detective (even though my ungrateful family claims that my detection rate isn’t great), so I enjoy detective stories. I don’t remember how I came across Maisie Dobbs, but I enjoyed the book. It’s about a young female sleuth in 1920s England. She’s a costermonger’s daughter and used to be a maid, but thanks to her employer’s patronage she ended up solving cases. After a period of serving as a war nurse, that is.

I can’t say that I particularly enjoyed the case itself, but I did enjoy the setting and the flashback to the war years, as much as one can enjoy descriptions of a horrible war and immense suffering.
I think I’d read the next instalment of the series should I happen upon it, but I wouldn’t necessary go out of my way to acquire it.

When All Is Said – Anne Griffin

Maurice Hannigan, 84 years old, is sitting at a hotel bar and is toasting five important people in his life, most of which are dead. A few pages into this book you think, ‘Oh, I know how this is going to end,’ and I was briefly disappointed by that. But this book isn’t actually about the ending or about Maurice sitting at the bar. The toasts are merely a way for Maurice to tell us the story of his life, of his losses and of his love.
Maurice isn’t an easy man, that much becomes clear early on, but he did not have an easy life either. Despite not being particularly likeable, by the end you must love him, I think.

The story is moving and beautifully written. My only criticism might be that I didn’t really buy that an old man with Maurice’s life story would be so in touch with and aware of his emotions. But that might be more on me than on Anne Griffin or Maurice Hannigan.

The Round House – Louise Erdrich

I loved this book. Considering that this book is ostensibly about a rape, it feels a bit weird saying that, but I predict that this will be one of my favourite books this year.

The book tells the story of 13-year-old Joe, a Native American boy living in a reservation in North Dakota, whose mother is brutally assaulted and raped. It is a story about how this rape doesn’t only destroy his mother, Geraldine, but how it affects her loved ones and community as well. It’s a story about life on a reservation and about Native American history, lore, life, and law. It’s a coming of age story of Joe and his friends. It’s a story about justice and revenge. It’s a page turner and it’s thought-provoking.

I started it twice and put it aside the first time because I wasn’t in the mood for something dark. I’m so glad I came back to it and gave it another try.

This Is How It Always Is – Laurie Frankel

This Is How It Always Is is a sweet, at times a bit too sweet, story about a family with five boys, the youngest of which turns out to be transgender. It’s a nice story and despite some sadder parts it has an uplifting ending.
Claude’s (or Poppy’s) family is maybe a bit too lovely and understanding and harmonious to be fully believable, but that’s ok. It’s nice to read about a happy family every once in a while.

It’s not exactly an #ownvoices book, but the author does have a transgender daughter, so it’s close enough.

Motherhood – Sheila Heti

I wanted to like this book, partly because it was a present from a good friend, partly because it discusses an important topic: the fact that women should be allowed to choose whether they want to be mothers or not, societal pressure be damned.
Sadly, I found the book inane and I found her to be way too self-absorbed and, man, I found the dice rolling part soooo stupid. I left the book unfinished and I hope my friend will forgive me.

Heartburn – Nora Ephron

A novel about divorce. And cheating. And food. Meh. Forgettable. Nice recipe for linguine alla checca.

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