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About Minxminnie

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  • Birthday 11/12/1965


  • Location
    West of Scotland
  • Interests
    travel, photography, reading (doh!), cinema, lying in on a Saturday.

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  1. I bought this after seeing JG interviewed by Damien Barr on his book club show: she was talking about the second volume of her memoir, but I thought I would start at the beginning. It is gobsmackingly good, visceral and vivid. She was the late child of an unhappy couple, with an older sister, Cora, who is already an adult when she is born. Cora returns to the family home after (we presume) an unhappy marriage and is a force to be reckoned with. The memoir is a very powerful evocation of a fairly unhappy childhood from the point of view of a child who doesn't really understand that it is unhappy. Some of the scenes have stayed with me and I immediately wanted to order the second volume which focuses on her teenage years.
  2. I'm really sorry to hear this. I'm not on BGO so much any more but I do remember the days when we all talked most days and she was always such a cheerful, positive presence.
  3. I started this a long time ago and abandoned it fairly quickly: I was disappointed, having hugely enjoyed Want You Gone, her first novel. I can't remember why I didn't like it, but I think I felt the main woman was a bit of a drip and lacked agency in her own life. I have read most of her stuff since then and enjoyed it, though not as much as I enjoyed the first one. How strange to have written one book that your readership generally seems to dislike!
  4. Me too. The Aberfan episode was amazing, wasn't it?
  5. This novel was the Times Crime Book of the Month, but it's not, as I found out, a traditional crime book since from near the start, you know whodunnit but just not why. It's more of a character based novel, though there is the traditional detective and investigation. It focuses on the aftermath of a mass shooting and the experience of the shooter's mother and the mother of one of the victims. It just left me a bit flat. It belongs to the sub genre of crime which focuses on the death of a child and the suffering of the parent; there seems to be a lot of this around in TV and film as well as books. The writing is good, but it is slow, and there's just a lot of scenes of women being miserable and grief stricken without this moving the story on in any way. It felt overwritten; there were lots of conversations without real drama or interest, and I got bored and started skimming. I don't understand why it has met with so much praise.
  6. No I didn't think you were criticising! I agree with Heather that many people are put off reading by thinking there has to be rules, like not skipping and finishing a book you start.
  7. I think speed reading is good when you have to read, but not when you want to read. I've never learned to do it, but I think it's something different than skim reading: as far as I'm aware, it's a technique for absorbing lots of content. It's probably good if you need to absorb big chunks, for example for work. It's probably not great for reading fiction for pleasure, I reckon. I also skip bits of some books. Who wrote that books "Rights of the Reader"? One was the right to skip. If it's my book and my time, I'll do what I like.
  8. This was the book of the month in Waterstones, and had breathless praise on the cover from writers and reviewers who I respect. It was an interesting premise: a crime novel from the perspective of the victim. And I do enjoy a novel with a big rambling house at the centre. Tana French can write a great sentence: the problem was that she wrote too many of them. It just went on and on. It started, eventually, with the central character, Toby, being a victim of a beating during a robbery (it even took a while to get there). He then goes to live with his ailing uncle in the family home, the Ivy House. It's not until halfway through the book that the central mystery gets going, and it is eventually solved (for the reader) by the perpetrator deciding to tell the whole story, at some length. I hate this as a plot device: it's as if the writer has written herself into a corner. It just wasn't credible that the character would do this rather than continue to keep the secret, and what the character had actually done wasn't credible either. And it's not very effective to tell such a major story through real time dialogue. After this is resolved, there are still another 100 or so pages to go, and there's another big plot twist which was just unpleasant. I had lost interest but I felt there was a big resolution coming, and it didn't emerge. The story was very repetitive: endless descriptions of the effect of Toby's attack on his vision, lots of family meals and parties. I felt as if she was trying to take the crime novel and do something more profound with it: a character study of the Toby, a reflection on privilege. I did enjoy the writing, and that's what kept me going, but it didn't either observe or play with the conventions of crime fiction, it just mucked about with them, and Toby wasn't interesting enough.
  9. I have just finished this. I was a bit disappointed: the story seemed melodramatic and drawn out, and in tone it was more chicklit than I expected. He kept filling us in on minor characters' backstory when we were in a major character's POV, which really annoyed me. But I did enjoy it in parts. I thought he captured something of small town Irish life (though I am no judge of small town Irish life, to be fair). Auntie Eileen's B&B was a comic masterpiece, and I think he is very good at that sort of thing, a sort of Irish Alan Bennett. I just hope he gets into his stride with his storytelling.
  10. I have got to about p.250 in this but have admitted defeat. It just seems to be lots of stuff happening and people talking, with little of interest. It feels too whimsical and flippant, like a John le Carré rewritten by Alan Bennett. I do like Kate Atkinson but this has been deeply annoying.
  11. Hi Iris, Sorry, I pasted that URL into my browser and it didn't work. Can you paste it as a hyperlink? Click the link icon in the posting box.
  12. I have been looking forward to this for ages: Chris Brookmyre has teamed up with his wife, Marisa Haetzmann, who is an anaesthologist and medical historian, and they have written a historical medical crime novel: sort of gothic tartan noir. I'm always suspicious of novels written by more than one person, but I didn't feel that the narrative voice wavered; maybe they work well together or maybe they have a good editor. The novel is set in Edinburgh in 1847. Will Raven has just started work for Dr James Young Simpson as he begins to use early anaesthetics. Young women are beginning to turn up dead and Raven is drawn into investigating through a combination of personal connections, along with Sarah Miller, the housemaid. These two are set up as a crime fighting duo for a subsequent series of novels. You could roll your eyes at Sarah's proto-feminism if you were so inclined, but I found it fun and credible; she is frustrated by the limitations put in her and also on Dr Simpson's spinster sister in law, and she pushes at the boundaries of what she can do, both personally and professionally. Raven, for me, was less well drawn and less likeable, but I think he can develop in later books. There's a good amount of humour and a lot of grim medical detail: don't read this if you'll be distressed by the reality of childbirth in poverty stricken 19th C Edinburgh. At times, the medical detail could dominate the storytelling. The scene is set very vividly and unsentimentally. Overall, I think it is a clever departure for one of my favourite writers. (He buys his baked beans in the same place I do, so I might get to tell him!)
  13. Hi Sue! There are a good few Scots here. Welcome to BGO!
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