Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Writing Wednesday: Holiday books

For me, much of the joy of holidays is having the time and space to read, to be so totally absorbed in a book that mealtimes and the rest of the world can go to pot. In my romantic imagination this involves curling up in a big, soft armchair in front of an open log fire, soft rain at the window ... or maybe a thunderstorm crashing outside.

It was bright and sunny on our holiday. We spent virtually every day out and about, arriving back at our holiday home in time to eat dinner and crash. Book reading quantity: low (but holiday enjoyment very high!)

In fact I only completed two:
David Nicholls One Day, a book describing one day for the two main characters, Emma and Dexter, over the space of twenty years. I loved it. Insofar as I could, I was addicted to this and crept away from the odd family game and ignored the washing up in order to read it. As the characters were roughly my age, and Emma comes from Yorkshire like me, and they first met at university in Edinburgh, there was a lot that I could relate to. Although I must point out that Dexter is nothing like my husband.

It has been widely read and reviewed, to great acclaim, and I can understand why. I began to wonder how he was going to end the book when about 14 years through, but the twist and then the ability to intertwine the first day with last was excellent.

In contrast, The Distant Hours by Kate Morton I found hard-going. The Sisters Blythe live in Milderhurst Castle, the youngest seemingly mad, the older twins caring for her for fifty years. The main storyteller, Edie, finds out her mum was evacuated to them during the war and that the sisters' father wrote her favourite childhood book 'The True History of the Mud Man'. In finding out more about that she stumbles across intrigue and loss.

I have read and enjoyed other books by Kate Morton and this followed a similar formula. For me, there was too much description and introspective thought in the first half of the book. By the end I was gripped, trying to work out what had really happened. On the plus side, I really felt I was in the thunderstorm of 29 October 1941. On the negative, I still can't work out why the three sisters would have carried on the way they did for fifty years after that. It wasn't unbelievable, but it wasn't totally believable either.

So a mixed review for Kate Morton's book, but a big thumbs-up for David Nicholls.

And a big thumbs up for holidays. I'd far rather spend the time with my family than nose-in-book any day.

3 comments: said...

I have One Day on request from the library can't wait to read it!

Mark said...

Now that's a coincidence as someone just gave me copy on One Day - today in fact.

Catharine Withenay said...

I hope you both enjoy it as much as I did!

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