27 January 2014

Beyond Black

Author: Hilary Mantel
Year: 2005
Pages: 451
Time It Took To Read: A day of pretty much solid reading

You wait all month to finish a book, and then do two in two days.
Oh, Hilary Mantel! I read the Cromwell books last summer and LIVED in them. I'm generally not a fiction fan, but Mantel writes obliquely enough for me to know exactly what she means without feeling it. It sounds like bollocks when you say you 'feel' what the characters feel when you read a book, but that's what I do. I don't visualise it, I feel it. In fact, I live it. It means books like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo make me feel awful for days after reading them. It's why I prefer non-fiction or fiction from a male perspective. 
Beyond Black is a book about women, and the men that have hurt them and made them miserable. It is also about mediums, and sceptics. I am a massive sceptic about mediums. I think they exploit the grieving with their utter bollocks, but this book makes you think well...what if they WERE real? What demons would they face every day, listening to the lost dead witter on? What if the dead held a grudge? Why do some people who hear voices get locked up or medicated, and others get TV shows? 
Alison, the medium, has a history of utter misery and secrets so dark, she is literally haunted by them. Colette, her manager, is a woman who has had a bitter, beige sort of existence. And Morris...Morris is grim.
There is a deep, sensual realism in Mantel's writing, that lets you breathe the world she describes. Places you know you've been: the new build estate, the flashy chain restaurant, the dodgy village hall, the relentless toll of the motorway - all drawn perfectly. 
I can't wait to read more of her stuff. 

Book count: 2/50

26 January 2014

Overground Underground

Author: Andrew Martin
Year published: 2012
Pages: 320
Time It Took To Read: A few nights

This year, the #50books2014 is being hosted by Sara. I don't think I'm going to hit it this year, but I shall have a go. 
This month has been chaos, but I have finally finished a book. I've got three on the go now... I've had a lot of uni work on, which means a LOT of reading, writing, reading, cursing, writing and then FEAR waiting for the results. I've also finally seen the paediatrician with my eldest, and he's on the autistic spectrum. This isn't a surprise to us, but having it confirmed is a lot to swallow. On top of all that, I got engaged at the beginning of the month, and since we're getting married in August, that's a lot of planning that needs doing NOW.

But...I managed to read this. I am an unashamed geek about railways. So much so that my boyfriend proposed on a disused railway platform. I love the underground as only one who doesn't NEED to use it can. I love how it sprawls across London like a drunk. Each station is different, some historical, some shiny and huge (Jubilee extension, I'm looking at you). This book covers the history of the system, and aside from somehow missing out the 7/7 bombings seems comprehensive. It's also enjoyably written with trivia dotted about, which makes it a far more entertaining read than some other books on the Underground I've read recently. 

Book Count: 1/50