Finally, we’ve reached my last July post. I’ve already read two books in August so there will be another post very shortly after this one.
In the meantime…
Get Your Grill On: Read a book that features summer recipes or outdoor summer activities
For this I read Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris, who also wrote Chocolat. I actually picked this book up from a box of books left backstage by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra so it was a nice little freebie from work. And it fits the reading prompt so well: definitely the act of making and drinking wine can be considered a summer recipe and a summer activity.
I really loved this book. It was dreamy and reminiscent and all the sorts of things an absent-minded reader like me enjoys. The main character was a writer, the narrator was a bottle of wine, there was romance and heroism (of sorts). Just a really good read.
I like Harris’ writing: right from the very start it’s full of this delicious descriptions which made me feel like I needed to sit with the sun shining on my face and a glass of wine to sip between paragraphs. I swear I could smell the fruits in the wines, in the gardens, just from reading them. I might just have to re-read it with an actual bottle of bramble wine. I think my usual cup of tea broke the bubble a wee bit.
Backyard BBQ: Read a book that features a family reuniting or hanging out for the summer
I cannot remember where I found this book, it was probably on a list of books to read somewhere online, but I read that it was about two generations in a family trying to come to terms with their own beliefs and the generational differences between them and thought, that sounds like the right sort of book. The characters weren’t really hanging out for the summer, but the younger brother did turn up after a 3 year absence to his sisters wedding, so it definitely counts as a reunion. For this prompt I read A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza.
I found this book okay, it certainly wasn’t as thrilling as I was led to believe. I also made the mistake (as I usually do) of reading the reviews afterwards and being almost magnetically drawn to the most negative ones. Unfortunately, there was one review that kinda swayed me towards not liking it as much as I thought I did, although I did have some problems with some things the reviewer complained about. Throughout the novel there were a few words and phrases in Urdu, which makes sense as the family were Indian and that was their primary language at home which they used when speaking to each other. I loved hearing (reading) these words, and often they were accompanied by a little definition or emphasis on the meaning (of both the words and the intent behind speaking in Urdu), but this reviewer seemed to think that it detracted from the story since she couldn’t understand Urdu herself. There was not one word that I can remember not having some sort of contextual or explicit detail behind it to explain it’s meaning. Sorry, but out of all her complaints, this was the one that I personally found the most annoying. I’ve actually just finished another novel which had many words and phrases in Russian and barely any were translated for the reader. But even then, we have the whole internet to look up phrases if we’re that curious.
Anyway, I think this reviewer had a personal vendetta against this book: something along the lines of the most boring thing she’s ever read. From my experience, I was interested in what was going to happen, I enjoyed hearing about the lives of the characters, but I can admit that it was a fairly flat read. The drama that was included in the novel was barely drama at all but was that really frustrating thing of people just not talking to each other in the first place. All the characters were good people, there was no real antagonism between the older, perhaps more traditional and religious parents, and the children, just what they made up themselves in their heads. It was even revealed later on that the most rigid figure of the family, the father, was exceptionally proud of the progress his daughter had made.
So, to summarize, it was one of those books that made you want to yell out loud ‘just talk to each other!’