The Last of the Greenwoods by Clare Morrall

Cover of The Last of the Greenwoods

I find I’m not clicking “read” on my books on Goodreads because I want to say things about them – my future self really loves it when she can remember what she actually thought of books – but my current self is really, really bad at writing things down. So anyway, I promise to try to do better. Maybe.

I discovered Clare Morrall when she was on the Booker shortlist a few years back (a quick search tells me my definition of “a few” is actually 16 and this realisation makes me realise that there are other places where I use the term “a few” where other people might use “quite a lot”). I found this one as a poor quality paperback hiding in among the mostly junk books in The Works. That’s how it goes I guess, but I liked the story as much as I liked all her other books I’ve read.

The titular Greenwoods are a pair of rather dysfunctional brothers who live in adjoining railway carriages but haven’t spoken for years, another major character is their postwoman who is also involved in restoring a steam railway. I read the book long enough ago that I don’t want to start summarising the story in case I give away too much of the plot that isn’t obvious in the beginning. I thought the characters were brilliantly drawn and it all felt perfectly English, in a very twenty-first century way. And there’s a murder mystery of sorts here too (but it’s not a mystery book). It just had so many elements that I liked and combined them in an esoteric but realistic manner.

I need to see whether I’ve missed any other of Clare Morrall’s books, or maybe whether there are any other gems lurking in The Works.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

Our House by Louise Candlish

Cover of Our House

When I picked this up in Waterstone’s and starting reading it I was grabbed straight away but in that way that I just know I’m going to be disappointed in the end. The tension’s too high, the odds are too great, I don’t think the author is going to be able to deliver on the suspense. Except I wasn’t disappointed in the end and I think she delivered nicely. The story of a woman in a failing relationship who comes home and finds her family’s home has been sold from under her nose.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

The Chalk Pit (Ruth Galloway, #9) by Elly Griffiths

Cover of The Chalk Pit (Ruth Galloway, #9)

So I said I was giving up on this series as I found something to get annoyed with in every book. But then I wanted something familiar and comforting in the library and ended up checking it out. And then the author (or the characters maybe) didn’t annoy me so much in this book and set things up so that, soap opera style, I want to check out the next episode and see what goes down next… Hmmm.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

Epitaph for a Spy by Eric Ambler

Cover of Epitaph for a Spy

Great story of a mild mannered janitor language teacher, who gets mistaken for a German spy when his camera film gets muddled up at a small hotel outside Nice. Written in 1938, it’s a great period piece.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Cover of Home Fire

In the beginning I loved this and thought it was a really good story with great characters, everything seemed pretty much believable. And as the book went on it got weirder, but it was the kind of story that was always going to have weird undertones, and that’s pretty much what fiction is for after all. And then it kept going and went completely off the rails and I wondered what on earth the author thought they were up to as it was all going totally over my head and I couldn’t make rhyme nor reason for anything.

And then I discovered it was all a riff on Antigone, which I’d missed entirely, and I only have the vaguest passing familiarity with Antigone. So yeah. I was left not being quite sure what to make of it. I missed out on any hints in the text that it was a modern retelling of an old story, and unlike other similar retellings I’ve read it didn’t seem to make standalone sense. Half of a good story really, that left me feeling a bit dumb. I will try the author again sometime though!

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.