You know it, new year – new goal to read more books. Predictable as ever. Regardless, we are just over one month in and I am three (and a bit) books deep. Two were Christmas presents and another was a charity shop find on a cool and crisp Sunday day out in Romsey. Cute, I know. When it comes to a winning novel, for me it’s either going to be a thriller or something deeply rooted in relationships – platonic, romantic or family orientated. To give you a rough idea, my current lasting favourites are A Little Life (Hanya Yanagihara) and The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern). The first, truly heartbreaking, spanning years of the relationship between four friends in New York; the latter somewhat based in a world of fantasy, but it’s the relationship between the two protagonists that I found particularly compelling.
This year, the first book I finished was Normal People by Sally Rooney. As part of the young adult universe, this was a fairly quick read for me and I absolutely loved it. Normal People is based in a small town in Ireland, focusing on two teenagers Connell and Marianne, following them through to university and so forth. An unlikely match, but of course one we are totally mad for.
I found myself both irritated with and upset for Connell and Marianne; their way of communicating, or lack there-of was delightfully frustrating. At one point I remember putting my book down and having to sigh real hard before continuing. Any book that gets a physical reaction from me is a good’un. It certainly made me reflect upon life and think twice about how I communicate with others, but also to appreciate the road life takes us on. I already have Rooney’s other novel, Conversations With Friends on the list to read next and am so excited to see BBC Three’s adaptation of Normal People later this year.
Next was The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. My first thriller of the year, combined with varying relationships between a group of friends – perfect! Shout out to Lex for influencing this choice, sharing on her Instagram, with a read along in her stories that I have finally been able to catch up on! The Hunting Party opens with a body being found in winter Highland wilderness. The book proceeds to tell the story through different characters’ perspectives. We know that Emma has arranged a New Years retreat for her group of friends, to which she is a relatively new member of. It is clear she is trying to impress so what better than an exclusive remote lodge in the Highlands? Essentially we start the story knowing that one of these guests is likely to end up murdered, but we don’t know who – nor do we know whodunnit.
This was another fast read for me, purely because I just could not help but steam through and find all the answers. We learn a little bit of history, setting up the back story to who may or may not be murdered and who may or may not have done it. There were some small moments that were revealed throughout that I did suspect, but that main reveal? Nope. Not a clue. It really took me by surprise, but also made so much sense. The ideal level of suspense, thrills and drama; sensationally shocking, all the while perfectly plausible. I had a four hour train ride back to Southampton ahead of me – the perfect set up for reading – but still, I read the majority of the closing chapters while sat in the front room with my family because it was just that gripping. I cannot recommend this book enough and of course, I am eager to get my hands on Foley’s next novel, The Guest List.
The third book that I finished was Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door, the one I picked up in Romsey under the recommendation of Lauren who was persuaded by Louise; what can I say, my friends have good taste.
Another thriller type, however I must admit, a little more predictable. Anne and Marco go to dinner next door, reluctantly leaving their baby girl at home, keeping an eye on her with the baby monitor and checking in on the house every half hour. When they turn in for the night, their child is missing, so of course we end up following the story of who took their baby and why.
The detective seems to think it was something that Anne and Marco had staged, but even so, has his doubts. I will say that I found this a little slower to read than The Hunting Party, nevertheless, I was eager to find out what had happened. My only issue was the so called twist. You know when you’re expecting it, so much so that you end up calling it relatively early on? Yep. Then you begin to consider the other levels to that twist? Yeah, you got it. Still, there were the odd bits that did take me by surprise, but all in all ended up being kind of unnecessary. The story could have been cut short and been just as satisfying, instead an extra stage was thrown in at the end – some kind of cliff hanger I suppose. Still, despite semi-figuring out what had happened, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for this all to be confirmed. Can’t blame me for being a regular old Poirot, eh? After all, there is something a little satisfying about figuring it all out. Overall an enjoyable read, only with want of more suspense.
That is it for the books I have finished so far. Currently, I am reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman). About time too; this was on my list for the most part of last year, I just never got round to it. Thanks then to Lucy for lending me her copy! So far I’m finding it a slow burner, but I am invested nonetheless. More on this later. In the meantime, if you know of any good books, hit me up!