Monday, 28 May 2012

The lifeboat - Charlotte Rogan

I was very excited when I came across The lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan. It sounded harrowing, exciting and wonderfully dark. However, I found this book only mildly entertaining and for the most part dull. How could this have happened? This book sounded like it was made for me. Well, it was due to a number of factors.

Most of the story is told on the lifeboat. It is 1914 and the ship has gone down. Grace, our narrator, is separated from her new husband and finds herself in the company of a diverse number of individuals. As the days slowly move by and their supplies dwindle the darker side of human nature starts to emerge in a number of ways. I found some of the sequences somewhat unbelievable but then again I have never been in that situation and cannot imagine what kind of madness would descend over one's mind.

I would not relate to Grace in any way and found her rather unlikeable. She could be strange and uncaring and I must say I disaproved of the way she 'caught' her husband.

The book was very slow for the most part and dry. I found myself skimming bits and praying for them to be rescued just so it would be over. Overall this book was okay, read it if you must but its not the kind of book you would move heaven and earth to get.

Rating: 2.5

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Blue Asylum - Kathy Hepinstall

Who knew that such a small book could pack such an emotional punch? Not a word is wasted in Kathy Hepinstall's new novel following a plantation wife named Iris Dunleavy and her imprisonment in an asylum on a small isolated island. As the American Civil War rages on without them, the islands occupants spend their days almost idyllically. 

But Iris is not insane. She is being punished for going against her husband's wishes. She is as much as a slave as those imprisoned on the plantation in her mind. But who will believe her? The British psychiatrist who sees her as a threat to everything he has built on this island? Or the handsome soldier who has violent outbursts and can only be calmed by the colour blue? Iris's arrival causes much upheaval but could she find love in this most unexpected of places?

The novel is told from the view points of many different characters. There is Iris herself who is not insane and is haunted by the guilt of the events that lead to her coming to the asylum. Ambrose the soldier who is traumatised by the events of the war but is drawn to Iris. There is also Dr. Cowell who truly believes that he is helping the inmates but is caught off guard by Iris who challenges him and bewitches him. His son Wendell was by far my favourite character, he is mourning the loss of Penelope, a former inmate who died. He is allowed to run around the island freely and befriends Iris. Each character was unique and effortlessly brought to life. 

Hepinstall's writing was to die for! I greedily raced through this novel. I will certainly be looking into her previous novels. 

Rating: 4.5

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Uninvited guests - Sadie Jones

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones was one of my most highly anticipated reads this year. I had read her previous novel Small Wars but unfortunately could not love it (not really my thing) but I was more than willingly to try her new novel! This is my kind of book in every single way and I am pleased to report that it did not disappoint!

The story is set in the 1910s in a rundown English mansion and everyone is preparing for Emerald's twentieth birthday. Her father has just died and her mother remarried, much to the horror of Clovis who had considered himself to be man of the house. Smudge the youngest daughter is left to her own devices and as the nights proceedings take a rather bizarre turn she decides that tonight is the perfect night for her Great Undertaking.

As her childhood friend arrives they discover that there has been a train crash and that they must take the injured into their care until the railway company collects them. They are a rather sullen looking bunch and the aristocratic occupants of the house want nothing to do with these third-class passengers. However, the appearance of a sole first-class passenger upsets her mother and turns the night on its head.

I absolutely adored this book! I read it in one sitting. I could not put it down. It was strange, unique and darkly funny. There were even a few spooky scenes that sent a chill down my spine. The writing was lyrical and a pleasure to read. Many other reviewers have not enjoyed this story and I'm in the minority that did. However if you have a love for anything Gothic then I think you will enjoy this.

Rating: 4.5