March was a month of easy comfort reading. I started a couple of books which I put to one side – not out of lack of enjoyment, just because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. So I reverted to some easy, quick reads – the types of books I have on my Kobo or Kindle which were free or 99p – which doesn’t necessarily reflect my enjoyment of the books, I just don’t like to spend a lot on e-books! With Amazon Prime, I’m emailed at the beginning of each month as part of Kindle First, where they offer a free Kindle copy of a new release – there’s a selection of 6, all different genres, and it means I end up with books I would never have heard of or read otherwise. In the past I might not have shared these types of reads (a bit of internal snobbery if a book isn’t some sort of literary fiction or classic) – but these are the books I’ve been reading, so they’re what I’m going to write about!
This Must Be The Place, by Maggie O’Farrell
I finally read O’Farrell’s latest novel (only 2 years after it was released) as part of my plan to tackle some of the books which have been sat on my shelves for far too long…
Although this isn’t one of my favourites by O’Farrell, I did still enjoy this book. I feel like a reread will probably reinforce this, as right now I don’t feel like the characters have stuck with me in quite the same way as some of her others (After You’d Gone and The Hand That First Held Mine in particular – but then I’ve read those numerous times over the years). In This Must Be The Place, events unfurl across different times and places and follow several characters – it jumps back and forth in their stories. Daniel is the main protagonist, as his choices drive the story, and cause his life to spiral, but time is also spent exploring his wife Claudette’s past – a once famous actress, she ran away from her life and you gradually come to understand why she has chosen to live as a recluse and hide from the world. Whilst I didn’t connect as much to these characters, I still enjoyed getting to know them and piecing together their characters and history (one of the reasons I enjoy books which tell stories out of chronological order – you get to know and understand characters in a very different way).
What Fresh Hell?, by Lucy Vine
What Fresh Hell? is the book equivalent of a fun rom-com movie (although to be fair, the emphasis is more on friendship than romance – so think more ‘Bridesmaids’ than ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’). In fact Bridesmaids is a good comparison, since this book is about Lilah, whose best friend asks her to organise her hen party and promptly turns into a classic [extreme] bridezilla. It’s a very modern and relatable story – I mean, totally extreme in many ways, but also, scarily accurate at times! It captures that time in your 20’s when it seems like everyone is getting married and there’s a hen or a wedding every other weekend. Lilah is the type of character who puts everyone else before herself, takes on more and more – and before you know it, things start to fall apart…
This is a light, silly, quick read, but which also has heart – and I enjoyed Lucy Vine’s debut, Hot Mess, for the same reasons. A perfect fun holiday read.
Sea of Memories, by Fiona Vaply
Sea of Memories follows the story of Ella. She has asked her granddaughter to tell her story – she wants it written down, before she forgets. The story begins in the 1930s, when Ella spends a summer in France aged 17. It’s her first taste of life outside the small town she grew up in, and the first time she sees a future other than the one that’s been set out for her. She meets a boy, an artist, whose creativity and passion introduces Ella to a life of beauty and freedom. Then the second world war comes along, and gets in the way of the life Ella has started to dream of. The war changes everything, and Ella’s experiences are quite unexpected. The story continues after the war, and picks up in key moments of Ella’s life.
I enjoyed Sea of Memories much more than I expected – I secretly love a good romance that I can sink into – and it’s both beautiful and heartbreaking. It also left me desperate to go to the Île de Ré (preferably in the 1930s in the company of a gorgeous artist!).
Digging In, by Loretta Nyhan
This isn’t a book I would have come across (or read) if it wasn’t for Kindle First. It follows the character of Paige, a widow of two years, who is struggling. Trudging through life, her job is in trouble, her teenage son is constantly escaping to his friend’s house and her grumpy neighbour seems to hate her. It’s actually not as depressing as that makes it sound!
One night, after several wines, Paige starts digging up her garden – and once she starts, she can’t seem to stop. Finding a focus in creating a garden leads to Paige starting to let more life back into her life… I wouldn’t say this was an especially memorable book, but it was a quick and easy read and sometimes that’s just what you need.
I Wish You Happy, by Kerry Anne King
Another Kindle First find, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this book. The protagonist, Rae, is a tricky character to understand – her perspective is not like any other character I can remember. She feels things very deeply – including the emotions of those around her – and so finds it difficult to cope with people. The story kicks off with an accident involving Rae, and the impact this has on her, as several new people are thrown into her life. She is the type of character that takes on too much – saying yes to everyone and taking on their problems, and not making time for herself. Things spiral quite rapidly out of control…
However, despite the story being told from Rae’s point of view, I found that I didn’t always feel like I knew her. You get a glimpse of her background and her complicated relationship with her parents – but there isn’t as much depth as there perhaps could have been. Overall, this was an average read for me. Not a bad book, an easy read, but not something special that I’ll reread. (On a side note, this cover bears absolutely no relation to the characters or story which is slightly bizarre…)
So that was March! A mixed month of reading, but I was in the mood for some light fiction which I wouldn’t need to engage with too deeply – and so that’s what I read. Sometimes, when I’m overwhelmed with all the books I want to get to, or having a busy time at work, I just want to read something quick and simple, that I can dip in and out of on my phone. And sometimes that works out really well – I enjoyed Sea of Memories so much more than anticipated and I know that it’s going to be a comfort book I’ll revisit.