Book Reviews - September 2018

Book Reviews – September 2018

by Elizabeth Kay

Elizabeth Kay offers Sussex Living readers her thoughts on recent reads that have caught her attention. She gives her views on a selection of books from different genres which may capture your interest.

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE

by Gail Honeyman

And so, obviously, she’s not fine at all. It becomes clear straight away that she has an OCD/Aspergers personality, so her days are rigidly structured and she has no friends. She doesn’t regard this as a problem – it’s the rest of the world that’s out of step. And then, after an incident involving the collapse of an elderly man, she starts to develop a rather prickly relationship with Raymond, who works in her office where she holds an administrative job well below her capabilities. Gradually, the reader begins to discover things about Eleanor’s past and her insane and dominating mother. The one thing I’d like to have known was a bit more about the mother’s past, and how she became the multi-faceted and sadistic individual she was. There is a twist in the plot, which I guessed before the reveal, but not so much in advance that it spoilt anything. She is a very engaging character in her own oddball way, and I loved every minute of the book. One of those novels that you’re disappointed to finish – I felt it could have been a lot longer, as it’s original, well-written, and juggles comedy and tragedy with style.

DARK PLACES

by Gillian Flynn

This novel was written before Gone Girl. It alternates between the present and 1985, when seven-year-old Libby’s family was massacred and she was instrumental in having her older brother convicted. Psychologically damaged by the event, Libby has drifted in an aimless way, living o donations from well-wishers and the proceeds of a book about the murder of her mother and two sisters. The money isn’t going to last forever, and as she looks for a way, to generate some income, she is contacted by the Kill Club, a voyeuristic group of people obsessed with murder who disagree with the verdict that Libby’s brother Ben received, and want to investigate it. Ben has led a blameless life in prison for twenty-five years, and as the club can’t contact the people involved themselves Libby is drawn in, and rather unwillingly starts to play the detective. There are some upsetting descriptions of violence along the way, and your opinion on who is actually guilty of the crime changes from chapter to chapter. The plot unravels in some surprising ways, and I did not guess the outcome.

THE BAD BUNNIES’ MAGIC SHOW

by Mini Grey

This is a pre-school book for little ones, with several clever devices for concealing pictures on the page such as a stage curtain that folds back to reveal Mr Abra and Mr Cadabra. These are the two bad bunnies who put on a magic show in place of the real magician, who has unaccountably disappeared. The two bad bunnies have the sole intention of stealing all the jewellery worn by members of the audience by hypnotising them to put everything they own into a sack – a real disappearing act! There are all the usual turns – knife-throwing and sawing someone in half and escapology. I would have found this a bit worrying for young children, but for the final few pages when the real magician arrives and res the two miscreants from a cannon to teach them a lesson. Author and illustrator Mini Grey has produced an attractive book that would make good bedtime reading, particularly for those parents who like putting a bit of expression into their reading – most of the punch lines end in O, and rhyme, so there’s lots of scope for kids who know what’s coming to join in.