Posted by: Corri van de Stege | March 15, 2010

Hearts and Minds

Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig, is a book I came across in the Waterstone Bookcircle.  I don’t know how I landed there, but the book sounded intriguing and is one I probably would not have come picked up otherwise.  I don’t know why not, but I had not come across this writer before. 

Hearts and Minds is a very good read indeed.   Craig gives us a view of London, some of the underbelly, that we probably are aware of when we travel through it, or visit it and definitely when we live in it, and that we read about in newspapers, but never really consciously want to have much to do with.  It also shows us some of the better parts and styles of living.  And then there are all the different immigrants, from here there and everywhere.   We all know of Australians who (temporarily) work in London, we know of all the Eastern Europeans who are there, and the refugees from across the world.   Throw in a single mother who is desperately trying to keep job and kids together and you have just the right mix of capital city living.   Craig uses this backdrop of immigration and day-to-day struggles for survival as a setting for a murder story, and provides a take on the capital that is utterly satisfying.  You come away thinking, yes, of course, that is what the reality must be like for some of them, and also for some of us.  Lives from different part of the globe become intertwined here, and this murder story is totally convincing.  

However, as I became more and more absorbed by what was happening to who, I also became a bit irritated  by the very brief chapters that rapidly moved between points of views of the different characters, just when I really wanted to know what was happening the author grabs a different character, almost teasingly, and continues where she had left off with him or her two or three chapters previously.   It all comes together, yes it does, and because of these moves across the landscape of London from one character to the other and back, you do  want to go on reading.

Nevertheless, a good and satisfying read, definitely.  And good writing.

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