I have a confession to make. It’s been a pretty long time since I last sat down and read a book. Between heading into London every day, keeping up with the blog and staying on track with normal life activities (like cleaning the house), I’ve found it really difficult to sit down and dedicate time to reading. So when I flew off to Malta on holiday in September, I jumped at the chance to spend my time off burying my head in a book or two. I managed to get through 2 (and a half – I had started reading one of them a while ago), so thankfully I’ve got a decent amount to talk about in this blog post.
I’m not going to lie, this book had more of an impact on a personal level. It tells the story of a gay couple who met after the war and subsequently hid away for their entire lives so that they wouldn’t be persecuted for their sexual orientation. One of the men has a stroke, leaving his partner to care for him.
I picked up this book because I’ve experienced my grandad having a stroke (and later dying as a result of several of them). I guess I wanted to see another (albeit fictional) perspective of that. It was a difficult book to read, slow and jarred in the way that a person becomes after they’ve suffered a stroke.
It was heartfelt and shocking at the same time, to hear the honest reaction that his partner had. Sometimes, the things he did were horrible. It felt like he was deliberately trying to hurt him, even after he’d suffered a stroke. Honestly, I kind of resented his behaviour a little throughout. But I know how hard it is to see the person you love lose a little of themselves bit by bit.
The book isn’t really eventful, more a series of small things that sum up their relationship, their history, their future. It’s very much about the suffering and pain the couple felt and how they were never free to be openly gay.
Far different from Hide, Lindsey Kelk’s What A Girl Wants is your typical mindless ‘chick-lit’ – the kind you delve into and don’t put down again until you’re done. In true Kelk fashion, the main character (Tess) is quirky, messy and constantly getting herself into trouble in one way or another.
To give you a quick bio – Tess goes to Milan to work on a photo shoot after the ‘love of her life’ confesses he loves her…but she’s pining after some handsome hot idiot who also just happens to be in Milan. Love. Triangle.
Of course, most of us barely have one person interested in being our lobster (Friends reference just in case you lived under a rock since the 90s), let alone being loved by the person you love AND having some crazy hot guy after you as well. That just seems unrealistic and the book kind of knows that, but I’m not sure it does enough to explain it away either.
And as most chick-lit-esque novels are, this is entirely predictable. Like, of course she’s not going to have everything work out perfectly for her, there are still a good 200 pages left! What I will say, though, was that the ending was surprisingly open. I expected there to be some kind of decision and there was less of that – but I think this is part of a series so maybe that’ll come in time.
I love this kind of book for a holiday read, but it’s not educationally stimulating or thought provoking, so I wouldn’t dare rate it highly compared to some of the true masterpieces I’ve read. (I tried to write that in the least poncy way possible, but I failed).
I have to admit that I’ve been a fan of Jodi Picoult since I was in my early teens, so I was not at all reluctant to pick up this book. While her style is predictable and almost prescriptive, the ideas behind it are always so original and well-written that I forgive her for what might be considered boring by some. It works for her, if you ask me.
This book is about race. It’s about racism. It’s about prejudice. When I read the author’s note, I took a sharp intake of breath. A white woman writing a novel from a black woman’s perspective. I desperately didn’t want to watch her try to understand (and portray) something she didn’t understand. (The irony of this, is that I too am a white person trying to understand something I don’t understand).
And I don’t want to overstep any marks when I say that it was educational (I ask anyone who disagrees with me to educate me further). It felt eye opening. It came from shocking perspectives and made me feel uncomfortable throughout. As far as I can see, it did the job Picoult wanted it to do.
To give a quick explanation of the novel, it follows a black maternity nurse who cares for a newborn child who subsequently dies. The parents of the child are white supremacists, who demand that she is removed from the infants care and then accuse her of murder when the baby unfortunately dies.
It’s heartbreaking for the parents to lose their child, but the perspective of the white supremacist father is shocking and disturbing. On the flip side, the lessons I learned reading the perspective of the nurse were profound. The way I think and feel has certainly changed and it’s the touching quality of the book that leads me to give it a high rating.
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