Friday, October 21, 2011

Hot chocolat!

I finally got round to reading Joanne Harris's Chocolat, and I have to admit that I have mixed feelings. I loved all of it until it got to the story of the priest. I think it went down from there. I usually find that books are better than the films, but in this case I preferred the film. The book was really well written, and I loved the descriptions of the people and the town and the way the story was told from different viewpoints. However, the film gave more hope and was about a man who just wanted everyone to be pure and leads by example. The book is about a man who wants everyone to be pure, but is corrupt himself and hypocritical. It made me sad because there was no-one to believe in, and that seemed a shame. I think the author's style is similar to Alice Hoffman, and if the ending had been different, it probably could have become my favourite.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Holiday selection of love and war, mystery and friendship

Rachel Hore’s books make great holiday reads, and this one is no exception, although it did go deeper than the other stories she has told in the past, and I did find that a bit difficult at times. It actually reminded me a little of Rosamund Pilcher’s “Coming Home. Anyway, “A Gathering Storm” starts off in Cornwall, where a young woman, whose father has recently passed away, is trying to work out why he spent much of his life in sadness. She has found out that his past was briefly linked to Cornwall and in particular, to a famous manor house, and she visits a museum nearby to find out more. The curator introduces her to an elderly lady, who over the week’s stay, she manages to unravel the mystery. It is a very complicated story and it moved me greatly because of the very well-told Second World War scenes. The way she explained what happened to people during WWII really made it clear to me. I could really feel what they went through, what they experienced, and it was very difficult to read at times. I imagined how I would have coped, and I am just full of admiration at how they never lost hope and always kept their pride. There is part of the story, which I have to say, I could not understand. It just did not make sense to me, the choices that the older lady made. But while the character is fictional it is based on real-life figures, and therefore those choices were made, which is sad, but you also cannot deny the courage of these women. Although it wasn’t perfect – there were some loose ends that I would have liked to have seen tidied up -it was a very thought-provoking read, though harrowing in place. The descriptions of Cornwall, however, were fabulous.

So, my second holiday read was The Listerdale Mystery, a collection of short stories by Agatha Christie, and once again she surpassed herself. So many twists and turns, pleasant endings, scary outcomes. The first and second stories were such contrasts and lulled me into a complete sense of security. The first was a lovely tale, very romantic, although with an element of mystery. The second was quite terrifying, and I noticed this tale and most of the others had very strong female characters.  These short stories, none involving Miss Marple or Monsieur Poirot, chopped and changed between adventure, fear, excitement, romance. It was a lovely collection of characters and stories. One aspect I must check is the story that has a character called James Bond...which came first, Ian Fleming’s or Agatha Christie’s – these tales were originally published in 1934 - another mystery to be unveiled.

Thank goodness I had my Kindle, because with my two holiday books finished, and the sun shining outside, I needed more reading. I really enjoyed Lucy Diamond's The Beach Cafe, so I decided to read Sweet Temptation next. I have to admit, at first I didn't like it. It starts off about overweight people, and I am sorry to say that I wasn't sympathetic. I just wanted them to have some will-power. However, as I got to know the characters, I really felt for them and was rooting them. The book is called Sweet Temptation, but I think "Fat-busting and Friendship" would have been a better title. It is a great self-help book, really empowering. I am not overweight, although there is room for improvement, and I found this book really inspiring, providing ideas for losing weight. It also covered the issue of domestic violence and in places it was quite disturbing. It was a very pleasant surprise, and I would really recommend it, both as a romantic read and a motivator for losing weight.