Is It Me? Recent books I just didn’t get

Three books in this blog post, none of which I enjoyed AT ALL. I think it might have been me – something that just didn’t click with me about how or why these books were written? But they’re all two-star reads for me, and not ones I’ll be looking to keep hold of or re-read.

All the Beautiful Lies – Peter Swanson

39711850Harry Ackerson has always considered his step-mother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an “other worldly” way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the

last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, he returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help one another pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan
. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.

As I mentioned in my March round-up, I was not impressed by this book. It really didn’t work for me. Not the plot, not the relationships, not the twists and turns. I will not be reading more by this author. I guess it could just have been me though – maybe someone else wouldn’t get as squicked out by the notions of the interpersonal relationships as I did?

Everything You Do Is Wrong – Amanda Coe

34200982Do You Know This Girl?

Harmony’s teenage craving for drama is answered when a body is discovered by her aunt Mel on Evensand beach. But the naked, lifeless young woman turns out – problematically – to be alive. Unable to speak or remember where she came from, the woman is named Storm by her nurses.

Surrounded by doctors, psychiatrists and policemen, Storm remains provocatively silent. Harmony is desperate to fill in the gaps in Storm’s story, while the responsibility Mel feels for the woman she rescued begins to skew the course of her own settled life. Their efforts to solve the mystery clash with the efforts of rookie constable Mason, assigned to the case and determined to help this damsel he feels to be very much in distress.

Will any of them be able to find out who Storm really is? And what if the distress belongs to everyone but her?

Everything You Do Is Wrong is a compelling exploration of how this enigma sets a family’s good and bad intentions crashing into each other, with unforgettable consequences.

Sinéad gave me this one for Christmas a few years ago. And I thought it looked really good – a mystery person showing up on a beach, and the rippling impact of that event. I was looking forward to it. But actually, I picked it up several times and never managed to get into it. Even when I read the first three or four chapters I put it down and read several other books in between. And, actually, when I did eventually read it, I didn’t think it was worth the effort. I didn’t care about any of the characters. I didn’t like the plot. I thought the ending was terrible. Definitely not for me. Perhaps someone else would enjoy the lyrical writing style and the mystery which permeates every aspect of the book, but it just made me miserable. And why didn’t the chapters have numbers??

The Attachment – Ailsa Piper & Tony Doherty

43895944Dear Ailsa, Sometimes I wonder whether the friendship that has caught us both-a most unlikely friendship I must confess-might find an echo in a far off Irish village somewhere in the wild, windy hills of old Donegal. Or am I allowing that uncontrollable imagination of mine too much slack?

This is the story of an unlikely friendship.

When priest and Sydneysider Tony Doherty emailed Melbourne-based writer and performer Ailsa Piper to say how much he had enjoyed her latest book, he was met with a swift reply from a similarly enquiring mind. Soon emails were flying back and forth and back again. They exchanged stories of their experiences as sweaty pilgrims and dissected dinner party menus. They shared their delight in Mary Oliver’s poetry and wrestled with what it means to love and to grieve. This energetic exchange of words, questions and ideas grew into an unexpected but treasured friendship.

Collected here is that correspondence, brimming with empathy, humour and a fierce curiosity about each other and the worlds, shoes and histories that they inhabit. Described by one reader as ‘a demonstration of how to have a conversation and a friendship’, The Attachment is an intriguing, entertaining and moving celebration of family, faith, connection-even the correct time of day to enjoy rhubarb.

Dear Tony, Funny how our ears tune in to things. How our priorities shift based on who and what we know. How we come to care about such abstract or remote things through the experience of another. Lovely, somehow, but so serendipitous. All the other things we might care about. All that we might have missed had we not stopped to care for this person. I’m glad we stopped for each other.

‘To read this book is to be present at the unfurling of a tender friendship between two thoughtful, compassionate humans, and like all the best collections of letters it’s also a discursive wander through life’s big questions. It will make you grateful for what you have, while urging you to seize the day with the people you love… It will make you want to write letters: good ones. I will read this book again and again.’  Charlotte Wood, Stella Prize-winning author of The Natural Way of Things

‘…captures the intoxication of being swept into a new and deeply nourishing friendship. It fizzes with joy and humour, wrestles with agonising questions, always anchored in compassion and wisdom.’ Debra Oswald, author of Useful

‘The Attachment made me want to notice my world, love my world, shape it into words. It is a book about friendship but more than that, these two letter-writers–these unlikely friends–are mature enough to know the value of the moment, the value of friendship, how precious and fleeting life is… I was moved, and surprised, and completed the book in a veil of tears…The book enriched me, and inspired me.’ Sofie Laguna, Miles Franklin award-winning author of The Eye of the Sheep

‘From the first seed of recognition, the feverish exchange of ideas and confidences to a deep and abiding appreciation, The Attachment is a candid, illuminating journey into the heart of a profound and unexpected friendship, and a testament to the art of correspondence.’ Kat Stewart, actor

‘…the chronicle of an unlikely but beautiful friendship that will inspire you to value your own friendships more highly, and to nurture them more carefully.’ Hugh Mackay, author of Beyond Belief

I really, really did not get this book. Was it just me? It’s a collection of letters between two friends in Australia over the course of about two years. They muse on many topics, including religion, abuse, memory, family connections, and things like that. But … although their friendship may have been precious to them – why do I care? Why did it get published? What a strange decision to make. I don’t get why this was a thing. I don’t understand how people could find this valuable or interesting. I really felt like it was kind of a waste of my time. Perhaps I’m just too cynical for it. Dunno.

 

So those are three recent books that I’ve read, heartily disliked, and wondered if it was me, and if other people could really love these books. The Attachment, especially, has a rating of 4.02 – so high! But I found it so, so dull and inexplicable. Why did anyone care enough to print this, record it, or read it? What value is it to anyone other than the letter writers and recipients? Although, in fairness, why did I read it? I don’t know.

Perhaps I’m just the wrong kind of reader for these. I was surprised anyways, at how much I disliked these, and if it’s just me, or something that is repeated across other people. I’ve given Everything You Do Is Wrong to my sister, so hopefully she’ll read it and agree that it’s terrible. Is that schadenfreude? I’m not sure. But I know that misery loves company.

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