Monday 17 May 2021

Some 5* books that I've read recently

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I've been reading a lot lately. I'm taking full advantage of our local library offering free reservations, and now that they are open for browsing I'm popping down every week and returning with a bulging bag of books.  

I read a mixture of books - books which I've heard about and reserved and books that I pick up off the shelves while browsing. Both methods can be a bit hit and miss, but in general I tend to choose books that I at least finish, even if they don't become one of my top reads. 

But some books keep me thinking, both while I'm reading and long after I've finished, and these are the ones that earn a 5* rating on my Goodreads account. So I thought I'd share a few books that I've given five stars to recently, both old and new, in case anyone is looking for some reading inspiration! All of these were borrowed from the library.

*  The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro - This was my absolutely stand out book, the best book that I've read in a long, long time. It was published in 1989 and I can't believe I'd never picked it up before, especially when I've enjoyed other books by this author. I think perhaps I've seen posters for the film and that had put me off. I'm finding difficult to describe exactly why this book grabbed me in the way that it did, because the description of the book, the memoirs of an ageing butler from a large house, doesn't necessarily sound that appealing. But I loved the description of life in a country house between the wars, and in particular the way that the narrator told so much of the story by leaving so much unsaid. I found that it reminded me somehow of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, which is another one of my very favourite books. Definitely recommend this one!

*  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro - This was the newly published book that inspired me to add The Remains of the Day to my reservation list, and it's another excellent read. This one is a science fiction book, dealing with artificial intelligence and genetic modification. It's a lot like Never Let Me Go by the same author, which I also love, in that it drops you straight into a story set in a world similar to our own yet slightly different. It's told as though you already know exactly what's going on, and then things are gradually revealed to you over time. It's a really poignant story, and left me with a tear in my eye at the end.

*  The Foundling by Stacey Halls - I was keen to read this after enjoying The Familars, and this book was even better. Historical fiction, it's set in London in the 1750s and follows a young woman who leaves her illegitimate newborn baby at London's Foundling Hospital because she can't afford to care for her. Having saved her money for six years, when she returns to collect her she is told that she had already claimed her baby, just one day after leaving her. I really enjoyed the mystery of the story and seeing how all the loose ends tied together.

*  This Lovely City by Louise Hare - This was on the new books shelf, and having passed it by one week I'm so glad that I picked it up the following week! The book is set in post WW2 London and tells the story of some of the Windrush generation that arrived from Caribbean countries to help with Britain's post-war labour shortage. They were British citizens, coming to the country to help it rebuild, only to discover when they arrived that they were treated as second class citizens, subjected to appalling racism, and only able to take the most menial jobs, if indeed they could find a job at all. The book deals with a local tragedy, with the fingers of blame immediately pointed at the new arrivals, and there are plenty of twists and turns along the way. It covers similar issues to Small Island by Andrea Levy, which is another fantastic read.

*  Stolen by Deborah Moggach - I must admit that I wasn't sure about this one when I first picked it up, but it was worth it. Deborah Moggach is the author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which I really enjoyed a few months back, and I'll definitely be looking out for more books by this author. It's the story of a woman who marries a Pakistani man, and after he discovers her affair he leaves the country and takes the children to live with his family in Pakistan. It's completely heartbreaking, and of course you can't help but to imagine what it would be like to find yourself in this position. I found it a gripping read, desperately wanting to know what would happen to the family, and although it's not based directly on a true story I know that it's a situation that many people find themselves in. 

Do let me know if you've read any good books lately that you think I should read!

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