Winner of 2017 Giller Prize

Winner of 2017 Giller Prize
Michael Redhill for his novel Bellevue Square

Wednesday, November 16, 2016




Abraxas Books on Denman Island

Some Travelling Books.

In October I spent three weeks in British Columbia and, with the help of two excellent bookshops, Abraxas on Denman Island and Munro’s in Victoria, found great books to keep me company.

Here are the books, all highly recommended.

Thrice the Brindled Cat Hath Mewed. By Alan Bradley. A fine mystery with a humorous set of characters and a crackling detective, 14 year-old Flavia deLuce. All is told in her voice, childish, funny, clever. I often find the final chapter of mystery novels tedious because someone, usually the detective, gives a long and confusing soliloquy in order to explain all the loose ends in the plot. I’m afraid I often skip these tedious bits. Not so here. The ending is excellent, with an interesting full scale explanation, an encounter with the dangerous villain and a final  chapter tidying up the life of Flavia.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad.  This quirky, funny novel, which was short listed for the Giller, presents the reader with an original voice, that of the shape-shifting Beth/Elizabeth/ Betty who struggles with friendship, love, family and her life inside her skin.

Under Majordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt  A hilarious book which takes place somewhere mountainous, poor and far away.  The conversations between characters are laugh out loud. The hero, Lucy, is the kind of guy nobody misses when he leaves home to take a job as an under majordomo in a castle. The castle houses a creepy maniacal Baron who mourns the fact that the Baroness has left him. Lucy finds love and solace in the nearby village while the Baron, happy at the return of the Baroness, engages her and her friends in wild sexual games. But Lucy’s girl friend has another lover, a handsome soldier who loves war. Marvellously funny with a twist on every page.

Hag-seed by Margaret Atwood. A theatre director gets fired by his deputy who stages a coup to take over the theatre. The bitter man spends years plotting revenge. After he takes a job directing Shakespeare in a prison, he learns his enemy, now a civil servant, will pay a visit of inspection. I am all set for a dramatic revenge. The book is loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Memories – From Moscow to The Black Sea – by Teffi Teffi was one of the most famous Russian writers at the turn of the century. Her prose is so clear and simple it shines. Teffi wrote memoir, often in short vignettes. This book describes her attempt to flee Russia during the revolution. She describes the general craziness of people in flight, the many characters she meets on the road, old friends who turn up and others who disappear, the hardships, the wild turns of events and the constant search for a place to stay. When she finally gets on a ship to Turkey, it does not move but sits in port day after day.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett Marriages break up, families intertwine, children are born, grow up and they have children. Anne Patchett follows connected families through the generations into a commonwealth of linked people who each carry their personal memories but also share a collective memory.  


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