First of all, each of these books deserve a proper post, but with so little precious time to myself, I’m afraid they’re going to be lumped together. But this effort at some sort of reviews is thanks to my other (time-consuming) effort at updating my list of Books Read in 2014 and realising that almost nothing had been written about. And that’s kind of sad.
The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
I’ve come to expect nothing but greatness – with a side of odd, but good-odd you know – from Mr Ness. His brilliant A Monster Calls was one of my favourites of last year. And with A Crane Wife, he adapts a Japanese folktale and turns it into a story set in modern-day England. An act of kindness (helping a hurt crane) leads to the entrance of a mysterious woman, an artist who makes the most extraordinary paper cuttings, a person who changes his life and the lives of the rest of the people around him. It’s a little romantic and whimsical, a lot dreamy and mythical, but still rooted in modern times. Delicately witty and fantastically sad, it’s a delight to read.
Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer
I hesitated over this for so long. Despite it’s rather ‘light and breezy’ kind of cover, it’s a heavy read, set partly in prison in Iran after the revolution, where rare-gem dealer Isaac Amin is held for being a spy for Israel (he is an Iranian Jew). His wife searches desperately for information about him. His son, studying in New York, struggles to find his own way through life while constantly worrying about his family in Iran. His young daughter tries in her own youthful reckless way to help him. Who can they trust? How can they leave their homeland? The sections written about Isaac and his daughter tend to be better reading than that of his wife and son. Bittersweet, semi-autobiographical, quite moving.
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Ah the book that bookish people love. High expectations about this one! Very high! And it was quite delightful, in that sipping a champagne while having Sunday brunch kind of way. Despite the sad backgrounds (he’s a widower, she’s an abandoned child), a charming, effervescent book. Being bookish, I especially enjoyed the beginnings of the chapters where Fikry makes reading notes about books. He is a bookseller after all, and she – later in life – is a wannabe writer. Cute and sweet. If it had been an actual book instead of the library e-copy I was reading, I would have pat it fondly on its spine before putting it away.