February 22, 2016

As Bay 93.9’s The Catch Up only returned from summer holidays a few weeks ago, February 12 to be exact, I’ve reviewed just two books this month – The Natural Way of Things, by Charlotte Wood and Louis de Berniers’ The Dust That Falls From Dreams. Talk about two very different books and writing styles!

Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things is a confronting and compelling novel that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading. Two women, Yolanda and Verla wake from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Here these strangers, along with eight other women, are stripped of all that makes them individuals and are forced to dress in austere uniforms. In blazing heat, and under the supervision of two guards, the women build a road by hand. Seemingly from very different backgrounds, the thread that links these women is slowly and skillfully revealed. This novel is a stark look at contemporary society and morality and makes you question attitudes, the media and power. It’s unsettling and haunting, and a fascinating exploration of how people cope under extreme pressure. Well worth reading, but be warned, it will haunt you.

The Dust That Falls From Dreams reminded me a little of Downtown Abbey. Set in Kent just before World War I, it follows Rosie McCosh and her sisters’ journey from childhood to adulthood, and their links to childhood friends, the Pitt and Pendennis boys. At turns heartbreaking, quirky and infuriating, it explores not only the impact of war on society, but how it changed women’s rolls. The cast is big and engaging. I loved Mr McCosh, long suffering Daniel and Rosie’s sister, Sophie, who had her own unique vocabulary. But Rosie drove me nuts through the middle of the book. The language in The Dust That Falls From Dreams is very Enid Blyton ‘jolly good show’ and ‘lashing of tea’ – a little flowery is perhaps the word for it, but over all, it’s an engaging read.

Other books I have read and LOVED recently include:

Adult:

  • The Fishermen – Obioma Chigozie
  • Pigeon English – Stephen Kelman
  • Golden Boys – Sonya Hartnett

Middle Fiction:

  • The Fourteenth Summer of Angus Jack – Jen Storer