Books: the epitome of escapism

In these strange times wouldn’t we all seize the opportunity to be whisked away to somewhere … other; some life … other.  Anything to get a breath of fresh air, despite being stuck indoors.  Anything to occupy you whilst you wait for the supermarket queue (in person and online … is there no escape?) to tick down.  Well, in the words of Mason Cooley (1927 – 2002), “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” Perhaps this blog will introduce you to something new …

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The perils of WFH for cat owners

A conspiracy is afoot – or perhaps I should say apaw – to stymie our best efforts to work from home! Up and down the country, cats are forgoing their hugely important nap time in order to distract us and bring the nation to its knees.  

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The Strawberry Thief

It’s been seven years since Vianne Rocher was last in my life – and what a long seven years they were. Within half an hour (yes, that long!) of copies of The Strawberry Thief appearing on the shelves in my local bookshop, I’d bought my copy and was alternately stroking the cover and inhaling that delicious new bookness at my desk.  That was quite possibly the longest day at work. Needless to say, I started reading as soon as I got home and I positively devoured the first half of the book – it was like catching up with my most beloved old friends; Vianne and her girls, Reynaud, Joséphine, Roux (*swoons slightly*). But as I passed the halfway point I had to force myself to slow down … this was a book I was in no hurry to finish. The enchanting and addictive atmosphere is as delicious now as it was in Chocolat.  

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The Aftermath

It’s 1945 and Germany has been split into four occupied zones by British, American, French and Soviet forces. The Aftermath is set in Hamburg, a city devastated by one of the largest firestorms of World War II, with the British Control Commission designated to reconstruct the city … and the moral compasses of its surviving inhabitants. This book is set in an oft overlooked period of the war years and could have been a genuinely captivating read but, in spite of the glowing reviews, it failed to live up to the promise.

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Killing Commendatore

This is my first Murakami book, and probably my last. The book was beautifully written, and has been perfectly transcribed to English, but it just left me feeling rather stupid; like I’d totally missed the point. Yes, it was thought provoking, and contained some truly lovely quotes, passages, and refections on life, but I’m afraid the manifestations of metaphors as ‘real characters’ became too surreal for me.

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The Parisians

The Parisians follows the lives of three women as their beloved city teeters on the brink of Nazi occupation, and the remarkably different lives they lead during this dark period. Set against the glamorous backdrop of The Ritz hotel, this beautifully written story follows the struggles of Olivia Olsen, living a dangerous double life as a hotel maid bringing vital information to the Resistance, whilst hotel guests, including Coco Channel, luxuriate under the protection of high-ranking Nazi officials.

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