This was a week with many different railway stations, long train journeys and some overnight stays.
In principle you can get lots of work done, as long as your laptop can be plugged in, your seat is comfortable and not cramped and the stretches are long enough for it to be worthwhile getting your computer up and running. That’s not always the case though, there are the times that you sit at railway stations, or it is that late that you haven’t got the energy to think about more work. And then of course there are the hollow times spent in hotel rooms. These are the times that I am really pleased with my e-reader, the thinness of it, the lightness of it and the capacity to store well over a 100 books so that you can simply switch to another story if the book you’re reading is not working for you or, of course, if you’ve finished it.
Since coming back from Germany, I have gone through a number of books, mainly novels, but I haven’t had the energy to write up reviews for them and probably never will now. So let’s just list them, leaving out the ones I did review recently, or at least mention one way or another.
I finished A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and if you enjoyed the Kite Runner I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. The story is fast-moving, a tale of women in Afghanistan, of the cities Kabul and Herat, and of war and the horror of it, destroying lives and shaping destinies. Natasha Walter provides a very good review and there are many more. I loved the book and highly recommend it.
Then I moved to a gritty detective, Blind Fury by Linda La Plante, with DI Anna Travis who is in charge of solving a multiple murder investigation, involving young women near a motorway service station. The story is gripping right from the start and very well written: Anna is an absolutely believable character, a woman in charge, trying to steer away from her former lover (and boss), emotionally, whilst at the same time a Hannibal type convict tries to unsettle her by insisting that he will be able to help resolve the case. This is my first La Plante but I will definitely read some more, excellent stuff on railway stations and on the train, and well written.
Altogether different is Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills. I am a great fan of Ishiguro and have also listened to him at book festivals and in an interview after the showing of the film of Never Let Me Go. Lots has been written about Ishiguro but if you want to brush up on his work and the man, then this profile by Nicolas Wroe in the Guardian is excellent. I had not read this book, which I think was his very first novel, and am glad I downloaded it. In a Pale View of Hills a Japanese woman who grew up in pre-war Nagasaki and who now lives in England, is visited by her younger daughter Niki, and this sets of a train of memories, about her life in Japan, her first marriage and elder daughter and moving to England. It is written in Ishiguro’s usual very understated style – mesmerizing.
I started but could not finish Alice Hoffman‘s upcoming book ‘The Dovekeepers’ – I have a pre-view download which will disappear in 23 days’ time, so the book should be out any time soon. Enough said: I simply don’t like the style and will not try any of her other books.
Somewhere along he way I also read Piers Venmore-Rowland’s Latent Hazard. This is a political / terrorist thriller, starting off very low key and worrying I think but then picking up at a pace and subsequently absolutely nail-biting in unearthing a terrorist conspiracy that could so well be true. A warning to us as well as our politicians?
So, that leaves me with what I am reading now: Daniel Silva’s Portrait of a Spy , which promises to be excellent, as well as the non-fiction books I’ve mentioned before (strictly for home reading only though as too heavy to carry around): The Emperor of Maladies and Mark Lynas’ The God Species. I have bought a hard copy of the latter because I cannot read it on the e-reader!
This list makes me think that I am really becoming a spy / political / crime thriller fan! At least when I’m travelling.