Two reviews for the price of one…ahem (free)

Just finished a couple of books and I thought I’d share my thoughts here. The first was a recommendation from the lovely lady at the used book store. She said, and she was completely right, ‘this is a read for the beach’. I didn’t quite understand that she meant by that then, I do now.

The book is My Very Best Friend by Cathy Lamb. It’s a tale of two women who were close friends as children and who have grown up and moved apart; they are actually in different continents when the story stats. Years have passed but their friendship has endured.

The first friend, and heroine of the book, is Charlotte Mackintosh who describes herself as a cat-loving hermit. The reality is kinder than that. Charlotte is a quirky author who tends to see the best in people and who loves animals. When her mother’s home in Scotland needs tending to, she hops on a plane and gets busy.

It’s in Scotland that Charlotte starts to bloom. She finds her old friend Toran who falls for her quickly and who she doesn’t believe she deserves. It’s through Toran that Charlotte hears about her best friend, Bridget and what has happened to her.

Cathy Lamb’s book is a great read for the beach, like the wise lady claimed because it’s not a thriller or scary book filled with twists and bends. It’s a slow read, with quirky characters and humour that brings the reader gently to a happy ending. The fact that we could tell what the ending was from the start doesn’t take away from its endearing qualities. This is a great book for a summer read.

My Very Best Friend by Cathy Lamb

My second book is completely different from the first. I picked this one up completely on a whim and the fact that I liked another book by the same author. Margaret Atwood is a definite genius of the written word and Alias Grace does not disappoint.

This book is certainly not a gentle read or a book without twists or turns. It’s like a great giant magnifying lens into the human mind. It starts without a rush (something I absolutely loved) and takes its time introducing us to Grace Marks.

Grace is in jail when we meet her and she was in an insane asylum before that. Dr. Jordan a young psychologist has an interest in finding out just what is going on inside Grace’s head and he tries, day after day, to unravel her secrets. And secrets she has.

This is a book to be savoured. There isn’t an extra word or line. Margaret Atwood knows what she’s doing and she sharpened her pencil when she wrote this book. But it’s certainly not an easy, light read. It’s heavy with content, hints, subtle nudges and symbols. There are layers in the conversations that one can unravel and relish. The characters are intricately created and have real depth and personality.

I would definitely recommend this read to just about anyone who likes reading. It has received the Giller Prize, is a national bestseller and was finalist for many other awards. Margaret Atwood is a master of the writing craft and this is a fine example of why.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

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