If February’s book did anything to me, it made me long for London. Yes – even with the death, intrigue, polarity of wealth and construction work so incessant it became a character itself – my heart yearns!
“This was the hour when he found London most lovable; the working day over, her pub windows were warm and jewel-like, her streets thrummed with life, and the indefatigable permanence of her aged buildings, softened by the street lights, became strangely reassuring. We have seen plenty like you, they seemed to murmur soothingly… Seven and a half million hearts were beating in close proximity in this heaving old city… solace in vastness and anonymity.”
I know many people wouldn’t live in London if you paid them but there’s something so Romantic and irresistible about it for me, I never feel quite so ‘at home’ as when I am there. The Cuckoo’s Calling was J K Rowling’s first venture into the foray of crime fiction, which, now part of a series, follows the career of Cormoran Strike (not abandoning her penchant for obscure names – Xenophilius Lovegood, anyone?) in vivid London.
It looks deeply into the themes of broken families, suicide and death, truth and justice and celebrity life. At times it was a very emotional read and I found myself with a tight chest, burning throat and less-than-pleasant sense of unease to go to bed on.
Though undoubtably ‘enjoyable’, I felt it was trying very hard (and not really succeeding) to be a modern Sherlock Holmes novel – Strike an anti-hero detective, an amiable and surprisingly competent assistant, a blundering police force, the compelling London setting – but fell down in actual integrity and ingenuity of plot. It had a certain amount of predictability as well as a few painfully contrived moments (one about a pea and a ring spring to mind!) that really dampened the overall experience for me. Perhaps I should have tried a bit harder to switch off my inner Holmesian fan-girl in order to appreciate this novel on its own merits, but I couldn’t!
It was saved by Rowling’s wonderful wordsmith-ery, which decorated the still-compelling narrative with a fine collection of phrases that kept me on my toes:
“The sweet and unmistakeable smell of human brains…”
for example. The character development too was interesting enough that I would certainly give the second in the series a chance to improve my overall opinion.
“I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees; all times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name…”
Nick Hornby’s Stuff I’ve Been Reading. The blurb indicates that this book (which I received as a Christmas present too many years ago) is “the diary of a life lived with books – books about the old East german secret police and the North Korean police state, books about Celine Dion and Charles Dickens, books about climate change and monogamous sex and the banking crisis…”.
Hornby is described as “the kind of reader we all aspire to be” so, while this is not usually something I would take upon myself to read, I am excited to try something new and challenge my natural mainstream choices… My only concern is that it will seriously lengthen my ‘must-read’ list.
I hope you’ll read along, and if you’re interested in joining in with the community, our host is Laura at Circle of Pines.
Until next month you bookish bunch,