As I listened to it on audible, I wasn't keen on the narrator and some of her accents, so I think this may have affected my overall enjoyment of the novel- but I still think it is a very well written novel. There are many aspects and characters to the story and sometimes I found it hard to remember what time period and when it was, but there is such a great story to cram in that it was all necessary. I felt a little bit ho hum about the ending of the novel, and I think that I would like to hear the story from the child's point of view as what he went through must have been a very traumatic experience for a child.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys sagas as I think the relationships is what drives this novel.
UK readers might not be aware of the love that Australia currently has for the main character in this novel. The Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher is sassy, beautiful, brave, outspoken and most of all extremely fashionable... oh and she's a female private detective. Set in 1929 in Melbourne, Australia, Miss Fisher has starred in 20 murder mystery novels and even has her own TV show as well as merchandise and an exhibition of her fashion that is about to tour Australia. Murder and Mendelssohn is the 20th book in the series and sees Phryne investigate the death of a choir conductor (found dead with sheet music shoved in his mouth), and also the attempted murder of a socially awkward yet beautiful former World War I spy. Its probably worth mentioning that the TV series doesn't follow the books exactly, so it can be confusing to flick between reading the books and watching the TV series, but I thoroughly enjoyed both. Kerry Greenwood is a great author, and I feel this 20th Phyrne novel is in some parts slightly more daring then some of the others I have read, but in a good way. My only criticism of the novel is that I found keeping track of all the choristers challenging from a 'whodunit' perspective as there are so many people in the choir. Also, there is a lot of reference to Mendelssohn and music in it, and well I've never been good at the whole music thing. That being said I LOVE Phryne Fisher, in a way she is everything I wish I was, and if you are looking for a heroine who doesn't wait to be rescued by a man, then Phryne is your gal.
I recently interviewed Emma as part of her blog tour to promote her book (see the interview here), and also got to hear her talk about the inspiration behind her book at this years Edinburgh International Book Festival. I was excited to get into her book as the idea behind it intrigued me. It tells the story of Etta, an 83 year old woman who decides that she wants to walk to the ocean, which is some 2000 miles away across Canada. The idea of the adventure and the yearning to do something so life changing grabbed me and spurred me on through the book. Also featured in the novel is Otto, Russell and James (as the title gives away), and how their lives are impacted by Etta who is the common thread between them all. The story flicks from how Russell and Otto meet, how their lives change when Otto goes away to war, when Otto and Etta fall in love, how Russell copes with living a life in the shadows when he clearly adores Etta, and then how they both cope when Etta leaves to walk to the ocean.
Like Early One Morning, the novel flicks between past and present which isn't usually a style I go for as I find it hard to remember what time I'm in, but Emma Hooper has managed to separate this quite well. The chapters are small which means you don't get too far engrossed in one line of story before it flicks to someone else. There is also an aspect of the story where you wonder about Etta's state of mind and whether present day Etta is actually seeing these things or whether she is just a little bit crazy (such as her coyote James that she befriends and who seems to speak to her in a way). I can see that this novel would make an interesting film, although perhaps Hollywood would big up the love triangle that is more alluded to rather then explored.
I've saved my favourite read of the past few months for last. Put simply, The Gracekeepers is beautiful, brilliant, and I would go so far as to say one of the best stories I have ever read. I listened to The Gracekeepers on audible, and it was read by the author Kirsty Logan which I think added immensely to the book. Kirsty Logan has a beautiful almost hypnotic voice and I think it was a great choice to get her to read the novel as she knows the characters and the story inside out.
The Gracekeepers tells the story of North, a 'dampling' who lives on a circus boat that travels a water flooded world. Her story intertwines with Callanish, a 'gracekeeper' (their version of a funeral attendent) who is kind of in exile from her landlocker mother. The novel moves between both of their stories thankfully in present tense so it's much easier to follow then the other novels I have read recently. I loved the world that Kirsty Logan had created, it was part real life, part almost mythological which is also reflected in the selkie myth theme that runs through the lives of the characters. I listened to this book at every opportunity- on the bus, at the gym, while doing the dishes, and on some occasions I even took the long route home just to have extra time to listen to the story. I loved it so much that I am going to go out and buy a hardcopy of the book as well as I think this is one of those 'all time favourite' novels that I want to be able to read again and again and have forever. I've already recommended it to anyone who will listen to me, and I'm now telling all of you that YOU HAVE TO READ THIS NOVEL. I guarantee that you will love it as much as I do.
Read a great novel recently? I'm always keen to get recommendations?