I have no access to the internet for writing blog posts when on holiday so this is a quick review of the books I read.
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo *****
This was an excellent story and not what I was expecting. Set in Malaya in the 1930s an eleven year old houseboy, Ren, has 49 days to find his master’s lost finger (!) and put it in his grave with him so that he can move on whole in body. In his search for the finger he finds a new master and others who can see things like he can. There are also murders for which rumours say the weretigers are responsible. The plot is a quest with many obstacles to be overcome in order to restore the finger.
City on Fire by Don Winslow *****
I love Don Winslow books and this one was no exception. There is nothing better than settling down to one of his when on holiday. It is the first in a trilogy and sets the scene wonderfully. The Irish and the Italians are kings of crime in New England and are rubbing alongside each other until a beautiful woman walks out of the sea and causes mayhem in the form of a war between the two groups. The reviews on the book liken the story to the Iliad but the woman coming out of the sea reminds me of the Honey Ryder scene in James Bond’s Dr No.
Danny Ryan, Irish but married to an Italian woman, eventually has to lead his family out of the mess that they are in and in doing so has to leave the place they have lived since the family arrived in the country. The book is perfectly set up for the next in the series. Excellent.
The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym by Paula Byrne **
This is a biography of Barbara Pym and is very well written and quite entertaining but I got rather bored with her focus on herself and who she was in love with and her inability to stand back and reflect on what she was getting involved with. She was so concerned about falling in love with a Nazi soldier that she couldn’t see what the Nazis were doing. She seemed to lurch from one lover to another and think herself completely useless unless she was in love. It became a little tiring after the second love affair and I gave up.
The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean Pendziwol ****
This book was given to me by someone who lived in Thunder Bay where this story is set. It is about sisters, isolation, the role of women and saving young people who don’t know who they are and are starting to go off the rails.
The story starts with Elizabeth, one of the sisters, in a care home and meeting a young woman who has grafitied on the fence of the home. It turns out eventually that they are related distantly and in Elizabeth telling her story, the young woman comes to understand herself and make better decisions about her life. The story is told through the different voices of the people involved and uses flashbacks to great effect.