Spain Remembers

Spain Remembers

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Best Reads in 2010

 I read just under 100 books this year. I tried to pick ten favourites but ended up with an even dozen. .

1. The Bishop’s Man by Linden McIntryre. A priest who is responsible for cover ups is left broken and confused about his life, his vocation and his faith. He is a pawn in a vicious system.

2. Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Charming mystery set in 1950’s in England. The detective is a little girl called Flavia.

3. Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd. An innocent man is on the run in London. Fine plot whistles by. I believe that Boyd is one of the greatest of contemporary writers.

4. The Master by Colm Toibin. A masterpiece of a book about Henry James. Told entirely from the POV of James, one delves into the character of a man, a homosexual at a time when being gay was not only immoral but illegal, a man with a secret life but no secrets. I enjoyed the book very much.

5. The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory. Loved this book a lot. Fast paced historical with a twist on the Bloody Mary story. Elizabeth is depicted as a schemer and a flirt. Gregory has made the Tudor period her own.

6. Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger. Based on real events, the poignant historical novel is beautifully written.

7. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Winner of 2010 Man Booker Prize. Superb historical set in Tudor England. My favourite book this year. I can hardly wait for the sequel.

8. The Uprising, the second in the Under the North Star trilogy by Vaini Linna. A civil war starts slowly in Finland in 1917/18 as riots and scuffles lead to armed rebellion and then the ghastly aftermath of starvation and murder. The entire trilogy is a mosaic of memorable characters.

9. Mr. Shakespeare’s Bastard by Richard B. Wright. A great read by a master storyteller.

10. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. Wonderful history dealing with the First World War. The ending when Ethel, the former parlour maid, meets aristocrat Fitz on the stairs in the House of Commons (she is going up and he is going down) is masterful. One of the best in the year.

11. Waiting for Joe by Sandra Birdsell. Birdsell has crafted a masterpiece. She has created two characters you won't soon forget.

12. Red Moon over the White Sea, by Laila Hietamies. A fine novel. Two young women, one Red, one White live in Finnish Karelia. The Whites of Finland want to incorporate the area into greater Finland after the 1918 Civil War . A war of terror breaks out. Mainly told from the side of the Whites, and glossing a bit over the poverty which motivated the Reds, the novel moves to an end but history does not. Here the Whites lose and so the main characters probably have to flee into Finland and maybe flee again when parts of Finnish Karelia are grabbed by Russia after World War II. Heartbreaking.

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