I finished Joseph O'Connor's Ghost Light and it is indeed as exquisite a read as I thought midway through the novel. Can I go back and elaborate on a few initial perceptions? It did take me a while to orient myself, but the second person narration wasn't nearly so jarring as I first thought. As a matter of fact after I gave myself a chance to get caught up in the story I didn't even think about it. Molly narrates the story, though it moves about in time and the tense shifts about, but Molly has such a unique voice it wasn't a bad place to be at all--inside her head for much of the story. Why I was confused about Molly and her sister is now beyond me, but I think I sometimes make stories harder than they actually are. Sometimes it's better not to worry about all the small details up front and just get a grasp of what's going on--the rest will follow.
I do want to note that O'Connor emphasizes that his story of J.M. Synge and Molly Allgood/Maire O'Neill is highly fictionalized. He took liberties with the facts in creating his story, but he does give reading suggestions if you want to learn more about the two. And interestingly he grew up a mile from the house where John Synge and his mother lived their last years. How's that for inspiration? Kimbofo at Reading Matters was lucky enough to have recently heard him speak, do go take a peek at her post complete with photo of O' Connor. I've already set this one aside in my mind as a favorite read of the year.
You'll never guess what I've started reading next. My niece is a reluctant reader. I try and press books on her and talk about reading, but she is usually pretty indifferent. If I spot her reading it's because her mom has told her she needs to spend a little time each night reading a book or her teacher has given her homework, but it never seems to be due to her own initiative. It's almost always a matter of getting the right book to the right reader, isn't it? She has apparently found that book. Chasing Alliecat by Rebecca Fjelland Davis is the book she is reading in class at the moment and she has been totally captivated by it. She was telling me about it and I told her it did sound good, and maybe I should read it when she finished. Little did I know that she would go back to her teacher and ask her for another copy for me to read, too. So she instead pressed a book into my hands! I'm not a big reader of YA literature, but how can I not read along when she is so excited about the story? Besides I want to give her all the encouragement I can so she will look for more books.
I've only just started reading (she has already been grilling me on the story) but it seems like a good adventure story with a dash of mystery. The story revolves around three teens (they're about sixteen) in a small Minnesota town. The main protagonist, along with her younger brother, is staying with relatives while their parents are away. While riding their mountain bikes the three come across what appears to be the body (he's on the verge of death) of a priest. One of the three disappears and things really begin to get interesting. The first day my niece brought the book home, she wanted to sit and read together (will miracles never cease?), and then last night she was ready to start talking about the story--barely able to contain her excitement. I agree, though, this is a story that does grab you from the start. I think we all know what I'll be reading for the next couple of days!
It's that time of year again. The Longlist for the Orange Prize will be announced next Wednesday. I think I only managed to read one book from the Longlist, and that not even the winner. I bought a number of them, which still sit waiting for me. Jackie at Farmlane Books has made her predictions of what might appear on this year's list. I swear I am always reading loads of books but they never seem to coincide with the books that make prize lists. I'm still always curious about them, if only to find a few more good books to read.
This is already old news, but I am excited about it anyway. Did you know Virago is publishing several previously uncollected short stories by Daphne du Maurier? A bookseller with an interest in du Maurier's work has been searching for stories which appeared in magazines in the UK and US. The Doll will be published in the UK in May and the US in November. I'm not sure I'll be able to wait that long and will likely be splurging on a UK edition of the book. Maybe I should read one of the story collections I already have on hand by her? I've been a fan of her short stories for a while now as well.
And the books in my photo? I've not been sharing many of my library finds lately (at least not the newer releases), so I thought I'd show you what I brought home last night. The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sherriff is a science fiction novel--Sherriff imagines what would happen if the moon crashed into the earth. I had not thought this was something I might like, but after reading a number of favorable reviews I thought it might make an interesting read after all. Catherine Aird's Past Tense is a police procedural featuring DCI Sloan and DC Crosby. Aird has written a number of mysteries, so I am coming in on the story well into the middle of it all. Maybe it won't matter. And the book on the bottom of the pile is the one I've just started. Very serendipitously I had just read a review in NYTBR about Imogen Robertson's Instruments of Darkness and it also happened to be on the hold shelf at my library. This is a mystery set in late 1700s Sussex. I'm not making the same mistake twice. There is a line of readers for this one....I'm starting to read now rather than waiting until the weekend before it's due back at the library.