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Posts Tagged ‘dual narration’

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(Audiobook – narrated by Mandy Weston and Rupert Farley)

The Joy of the title is Joy Stevens, a brilliant and beautiful newly made partner at a prestigious law firm. The story opens a short time after she has fallen – or jumped – from a high balcony at said law firm. The story of what led her to the moment of falling is explored throughout the book.

The chapters alternate from Joy’s point of view (albeit told in the third person) where the day that she fell is narrated bit by bit, while Joy’s history, marriage and the tragedy in her past is also exploited; and the point of view of various people in Joy’s life – Dennis, her husband; Samir, who works in the gym at the law firm; Barbara, her irascible PA; and Peter, husband of Joy’s friend and also Joy’s on-off lover. Their chapters are told in one-sided conversation with a counsellor who has obviously been brought in to help them deal with the shock of seeing their work colleague plummet from the balcony and the fact that she now lies in hospital, clinging to life by the thinnest of threads.

Audiobooks are never my favourite medium for consuming a book but I did enjoy this one in the most part, mainly because of the two narrators. It’s a rare book where none of the characters are likeable, but this book comes quite close to the mark. Although I could empathise to an extent with Joy’s sorrow, I still found her self-centred and in many ways unkind. However, she herself recognised these qualities in herself and at least felt some regret for them. Dennis and Peter were pretty unbearable, but that’s okay because I’m sure they were meant to be. Dennis was one of those crushing bores who nobody wants to get stuck with at a party – full of his own self-importance and in love with the sound of his own voice. Peter was an egotistical chauvinist, who treated his wife and most other people like rubbish. Possibly the most sympathetic character was the obsessive compulsive Samir.

The story unfolded fairly slowly after a somewhat eye-popping start. It’s a drama for sure, if not altogether exactly dramatic. The truth behind Joy’s fall is drip-fed and the ending of the book takes a more surprising turn altogether.

Overall despite disliking all of the characters, I did enjoy the book and found it an interesting read. It did leave me on something of a downer though, and a craving for something light-hearted and upbeat to follow up!

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This book – along with every other psychological thriller written in the last couple of years, or so it seems – has drawn numerous comparisons with Gillian Flynn’s bestseller, Gone Girl. Full disclosure here – I loved Gone Girl while I was reading it, but after I had finished and thought about it, it all seemed a bit daft, and the more I thought about it, the more I decided it wasn’t as good as I had initially thought – so what I would make of Disclaimer, I wasn’t sure.

The story revolves around Catherine, a high powered, happily married woman, who finds a novel in her and her husband Robert’s new house – only when she starts reading it, she realises that the story is based on an incident from her own life some 15 years earlier, and one which she had hoped to put behind her forever.

The chapters alternate between those concentrating on Catherine – told in the third person – and the story of a lonely old man widower named Stephen Brigstocke. The connection between these two characters is revealed about a third of the way through, but I had already guessed at it beforehand.

With Catherine desperate to find out how the secret from her past has come to light, and Stephen bent on seeking revenge for what he believes are injustices that he has suffered, the two stories eventually converge and secrets are revealed. There is a huge twist towards the end, which I had not guessed – but I did guess that a twist was on the way.

This book is certainly a page turner – the writing flows easily and it’s an undemanding read. However, what let it down for me was the sheer implausibility of the characters’ actions – yes, characters plural. I can’t say too much without giving spoilers, which I am reluctant to do, but almost every character seemed to do something which didn’t make sense, and which was clearly only included to move the story along. Also, none of the characters were particularly likeable, although that in itself is not necessarily a bad thing.

Overall, this is what I call a ‘cheap chocolate’ book – it’s fine while you’re consuming it, but you know it’s not that good and when it’s over, you probably won’t feel satisfied. I’m giving it 3 out of 5 for it’s page turning pace, but I don’t think I’d be in a hurry to seek out more by this author.

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In 1965, Annie Cradock is a 10 year old girl, living in the quiet village of Muningstock with her strict parents, and spending most of her free time with her best friend and next door neighbour, Babette.  When a series of murders rocks the village, and Mrs Clitheroe, a local lady beloved of both Annie and Babette, is a victim, Annie’s world turns upside down.

More than 30 years later, Annie is a music teacher, living in London with her second husband Alan, who wants to move to New York.  Annie’s marriage is in trouble, she cannot make up her mind whether to stay in London or move to the USA, and the strange events of 1965, still haunt her.  Only when Annie has come to terms with what happened in her past will she be able to face her future.

Annie narrates both the events that happened when she was 10, and the problems which she is facing as an adult, and the narrative cuts between the past and the present.

I quite enjoyed this book, but cannot say that it was one of those occasional, almost magical reads that you fall in love with.  I liked the character of Annie, both as an imaginative child, and an intelligent woman, but sometimes I did feel like shaking her and telling her not to be so silly.  The author did portray the confused mind of a frightened child very well however, and I preferred the parts of the story that were set in the past more than those set in more recent times.

The mystery of the murders is not fully solved until the end of the book.  I won’t give away the ending, but suffice to say that while I was confident that I had worked it all out, the story threw me a curveball, and I was surprised when the story resolved itself.

Despite the subject matter, the book is not a depressing or miserable read.  There’s actually a lot of humour within, thanks to Annie’s narration, but while some parts did actually make me laugh out loud, at other times the humour seemed somewhat forced.

So, while this was not a book that set my world alight, there was quite a lot to enjoy in this story.  It’s a book that I liked, but which I doubt would make any lasting impression in my memory.

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