Monday, 5 October 2015

The Year in Books: October

Hooray for time to read! This month I've really relished being able to curl up with a non-study related book and lose myself in another world. I tried to choose some books that were maybe not so typical for me, to expand my horizons a bit.

1. The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden, Jonas Jonasson

I loved 'The Hundred Year-Old Man who Jumped out of the Window and Disappeared'. I really did. And I loved this book too, which follows the life of the South African girl Nombeko from the slums of Soweto. Nombeko is extremely bright and has an innate talent for mental arithmetic. After being run over by a drunk and incompetent chief South African nuclear engineer Nombeko is ordered to work for him by a corrupt court in the time of Apartheid. She becomes indispensable to the man as she quickly grasps the fundamental nuclear physics that he cannot. A series of (unfortunate) events sees Nombeko escape from the compound where the engineer works, accompanied by a nuclear bomb that technically doesn't exist, and pursued by two Israeli intelligence agents (you'll have to read it to find out why!). She travels to Sweden, where her adventures continue, climaxing in the plucky Nombeko finding herself with the King and Prime Minister of Sweden and a nuclear bomb in a potato truck. She does save the King but I won't say how. I was really gripped by this book, and learnt a lot about South African nuclear armament and Swedish history along the way.

2. The House of Silk - Anthony Horowitz

I haven't read many original Sherlock Holmes books, but I really enjoyed Horowitz's take on it. He writes convincingly as Watson and takes the reader back to the Victorian underworld as Holmes, accompanied Watson, try to uncover the mysterious House of Silk, against the background of a multitude of 'typical' tropes, the rich client, a gruesome murder, links to the underworld of Victorian London as well as criminal gangs of Boston. What is revealed has an extraordinary relevance for today's society and recurring news stories, which I won't comment on. This was a really easy and enjoyable read, and whilst I found the ending a bit cliche I do realise that I count as a 'modern' reader. The plot certainly departs from the limits of Victorian sensibilities and stands in contrast to what Conan Doyle wrote about. Overall I'd recommend as a good entertaining way.

3. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

I read this book before, but I'm not sure I appreciated it properly. I absolutely loved it this time around, beautiful writing, a rich cast of vivid characters and a really gripping plot. The narrator is a young woman who married the rich widower Maxim De Winter after meeting him in Monte Carlo where she is working as the companion of an elderly American woman. She returns with him to Manderley, his infamous estate on the coast but is completely overshadowed by her own sense of inferiority to his first wife, Rebecca, a paragon of elegance, grace and beauty who ruled Manderley with a tight grip, organising renowned social gatherings and playing the part of the perfect hostess. In her obsession with her predecessor the narrator loses her own identity - we do not even learn her name - and as the plot progresses some dramatic twists and turns challenge all that we know, that the narrator constructs in her imagination, about Rebecca. I couldn't put this book down!

What have you been reading? Do you have any recommendations?

Joining in with Laura at The Circle of Pines.


  1. The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden sounds like a very interesting read! I've never read anything by Daphne Du Maurier but I have several of her books on my radar!

  2. Yes iv'e read two great books lately: Deep Down Dark and The spirit catches you and you fall down.
    DDD is about the miraculous survival of 33 chilean miners in the accident 6 years ago. It was rivetting.
    The spirit came out in 97 and it is an amazing book which address the story (non fiction) of a young Hmong baby who has seizures and the conflicts that occur when Western Medicine tries to cure her.

  3. I also read the books of Jonas Jonasson. I liked the first one better. There is a film of the hundred year old man... but I've never seen it. It's supposed to be really good, so I might give it a try!

  4. I've recently discovered the author Tana French who wirtes crime novels based in Dublin which I know quite well. Her books are very long, but worth reading. i think her "The Safe Place" is the best so far.

  5. Oops, sorry about the typo in my last comment. My eyes are not as good as they should be at the moment!

  6. Sounds like a very interesting months reading! xx

  7. I have read the first but not the other two books in your post. I did enjoy it, too,. It was a bit silly but that's ok. I am not sure yet what I am going to read this month. I have 'the assassination of Margaret Thatcher' by Hilary Mantel on my pile and might give this a go. Happy reading. You have worked so hard for your thesis, you deserve a veritable book binge! x

  8. Looks like they all are interesting read. I've downloaded Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Should start reading it soon. Have a wonderful day:)

  9. The King of Sweden one sounds good! I really liked Rebecca, also, I enjoyed reading My Cousin Rachel by Du Maurier.
    Glad to hear you're able to curl up and have a good read! xx

  10. I've read and enjoyed Rebecca and a few other novels by Du Maurier, then read the biography by Margaret Forster and read them again as it gave a different slant to them. I like Anthony Horowitz too. Enjoy your reading. Hx


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