Lockdown Literature – What I’ve Been Reading Pt. 3
“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.”
Yes, I’m using that quote again, but it’s so apt for lockdown. I feel like so many people are just acting as they usually would, which has been making me really anxious – I’m still wiping everything down, covering everyone in anti-bac and soap, wearing my mask, and fortunately all the people I’ve seen (socially distanced visits of course) have been doing the same.
I’ve been able to do a fair bit of reading recently, so here’s the next installment of my Lockdown Literature series!
The House Guest (Mark Edwards) ⭐⭐
When Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer house-sitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.
So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.
They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers, let alone invite them into your home, but after all, Eden’s only a stranger until they get to know her. As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…
So, I usually LOVE Mark Edwards, he’s one of my favourite thriller writers, and he does domestic thrillers SO well, but unfortunately this was just not that great. The first third was brilliant, I was absolutely hooked, and then it all went a bit odd. I guessed where it was going, but I really hoped I was wrong. It was just too predictable, and almost felt like a cop-out.
The Lido (Libby Page) ⭐⭐⭐
Rosemary is 86 and has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing. Only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband George.
26-year-old Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She’s on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist, and is determined to make something of it.
So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim – it is the heart of the community.
This book is beautiful, heartwarming and so full of joy, I raced through it and loved every second. I used to live down the road from Brockwell Lido and used to swim there during the summer, and spent a lot of time in Brixton, so the book felt very real and vivid to me. I adored Rosemary, I thought her story was absolutely wonderful.
It took me a bit of time to get used to the writing style, I found it a bit all over the place at first, and there were some bizarre perspectives to get used to – I wasn’t expecting to get a fox’s point of view!
It’s the perfect summer read, there’s just enough depth in the story, and the friendship that develops between Rosemary and Kate is perfectly done, it’s not cheesy or forced, it feels completely natural.
Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Nigeria is under military control and Ifemelu departs for America. Despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.
Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.
I really enjoyed this book. It is brilliantly written and beautifully descriptive. However, if I’m honest, it wasn’t what I was expecting based on the synopsis. For me, it really wasn’t a love story – that felt like a sub-plot – it was a fascinating insight into race in America, and Ifemelu’s journey of self-discovery and finding her place.
The book spans a LOT of time, and although it’s a long book (477 pages), parts of it did feel rushed as it was trying to cover so much. I wasn’t “gripped” by the story, and it wasn’t a book I read particularly quickly, but the writing made me want to return.
I found the book was more like a series of essays, told via Ifemelu’s blog, and these were the parts I absolutely loved. I found them fascinating, as well as educational, they were the highlight of the book for me. I didn’t find myself particularly invested in Ifemelu and Obinze’s romance, I do understand why it was included in the story, but I found I wasn’t as interested in this as I thought I’d be.
This book is absolutely worth reading, and I want to read more books by Adichie, her writing is incredible.
Bully Brother ⭐⭐⭐.5
Bully Brother is Craig M. Dial’s memoir of his life growing up in a large family in America in the 1970s. Craig was bullied by his older brother, David, but despite this, he adored him.
Before the story begins, the author suggests that the reader plays the songs mentioned in the book as and when they reach them, and I thought this was a lovely, immersive idea, and it really helped to set the scene, particularly at the end.
The story is easy to read, and as the events unfolded, I felt it was clear how important it was to Dial to tell his story. If I’m honest, I think the title felt a bit misleading. While David’s behaviour towards Craig was mean, and clearly not nice to experience, it did read more like typical sibling fighting and bickering rather than cruel bullying, but that could have just been due to the way it was described.
I loved the descriptions of the meals his Mum cooked – my mouth was literally watering at the thought of some of them, especially the desserts – I would very much have enjoyed to sample dinner at their house! There was a lot of lovely detail in the book, particularly the family trip to Yosemite and the slingshots Craig made and sold.
It’s a very honest story, ultimately a story about family, siblings and the love between them.
Sleep Tight (Rachel Abbott)⭐⭐⭐
When Olivia Brookes calls the police to report that her husband and children are missing, she believes she will never see them again. She has reason to fear the worst; this isn’t the first tragedy that Olivia has experienced.
Now, two years later, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas is called in to investigate this family again, but this time it’s Olivia who has disappeared. All the evidence suggests that she was here, in the family home, that morning. But her car is in the garage, and her purse is in her handbag – on the kitchen table.
The police want to issue a national appeal, but for some reason every single picture of this family has been removed from albums, from phones, from computers. And then they find the blood…
I generally enjoy the DCI Douglas books, he’s a great character and I love how his stories flow through the books. I haven’t read them in order though, but luckily that doesn’t really matter. The main plot of this was a bit far-fetched, and at times, far too convenient. My main issue was that I just didn’t care about Olivia or anyone else, and I was more invested in DCI Douglas and his personal life! I was waiting for a big twist at the end, and it just didn’t come…
What have you been reading lately?