Fiction

The Kindest Thing – Cath Staincliffe

The_kindest_thingTitle: The Kindest Thing
Author: Cath Staincliffe
Publisher: Robinson Publishing
Format: Paperback
Pages: 263
My rating★★★✫✫

I found this book on one of the book fairs I have been to in 2015. ‘What would you sacrifice for love?’ is the question on the cover. Well, I was wondering what the main character was going to do and what she had to sacrifice for love. The theme of this novel is pretty heavy, but I do love a bit of drama.

What the book is about

What would you do? When Deborah reluctantly helps her beloved husband, Neil, end his life and conceals the truth, she is charged with his murder. As the trial unfolds and her daughter Sophie testifies against her, Deborah, still reeling from grief, fights to defend her actions. Twelve jurors hold her fate in their hands – and if found guilty she will serve a life sentence. But is the assisted suicide of a person you love murder?

What I think about the book

This is not a very thick book and I thought I would finish it in just a couple of days. That wasn’t the case. For some reason it took me forever (or 11 days) to finish it. I didn’t really enjoy the way it was written. I just wanted to know what would happen, but the book was quite slow paced and it seemed to drag on.

The Kindest Things goes back and forth between things from the past and things that are happening right now. In the past we learn about Deborah’s family, how she lost both her mum and dad, how she has met Neil and what their relationship was like, but also about Neil’s illness and the troubles they get into with their son. Deborah has got a ton of drama to deal with in her life. It hardly seems fair. Here and now she is standing trial for helping Neil. Guilty or not guilty?

Though I knew that Deborah did help him (which would make her guilty), I tried to sympathize with her. What would I decide if I would be part of a jury? I had no idea. I mean, I would understand it if Neil would want to end his life before his suffering became too much. I just don’t think that I could do what Deborah did. Not like this. I would try to find another (more legal?) way to help Neil. Maybe that’s because we’ve got more options here in the Netherlands? I am not sure how this would work in other countries. So I could not entirely feel sorry for Deborah.

I finished the book and it wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t as good or exciting as I thought it would be. Therefore I will just give it three stars.

Nighttrain to Lisbon – Pascal Mercier

Nighttrain to LisbonTitle: Nighttrain to Lisbon
Author: Pascal Mercier
Publisher: Grove Press
Format: Paperback
Pages: 414
My rating★★★★★

After reading many romance, fantasy and young adult novels, it felt like it was time to move on to something more serious. A couple of months ago I picked this book from my mum’s bookshelf so I decided it was about time to read it and return it to her. It might not be the most logical choice for someone who is 36 weeks pregnant though…

What the book is about

A huge international best seller, this ambitious novel plumbs the depths of our shared humanity to offer up a breathtaking insight into life, love, and literature itself. A major hit in Germany that went on to become one of Europe’s biggest literary blockbusters in the last five years, Night Train to Lisbon is an astonishing novel, a compelling exploration of consciousness, the possibility of truly understanding another person, and the ability of language to define our very selves. Raimund Gregorius is a Latin teacher at a Swiss college who one day—after a chance encounter with a mysterious Portuguese woman—abandons his old life to start a new one. He takes the night train to Lisbon and carries with him a book by Amadeu de Prado, a (fictional) Portuguese doctor and essayist whose writings explore the ideas of loneliness, mortality, death, friendship, love, and loyalty. Gregorius becomes obsessed by what he reads and restlessly struggles to comprehend the life of the author. His investigations lead him all over the city of Lisbon, as he speaks to those who were entangled in Prado’s life. Gradually, the picture of an extraordinary man emerges—a doctor and poet who rebelled against Salazar’s dictatorship.

What I think about the book

Raimund Gregorius is exactly how I would imagine a Latin teacher, in fact, he could be the younger version of the Latin teacher that I knew when I was attending the gymnasium here back in 1996. Mr Visser was just like him, a single guy, who loved routine and knew his languages better than one could imagine. He was kind to his students and we all loved him, and I bet most of us still have fond memories of his classes. So yeah, I could totally see mr Gregorius walking around like that and I liked him from the beginning.

I have read the Dutch translation of this book, but I could see that Pascal Mercier has a love for beautiful words. The translation was wonderful and I loved the way the languages were used throughout the whole novel. Sometimes a novel can be really beautiful and poetic in a way that it is impossible not to love it. Yes, I do love reading ‘fast paced and easy written’ novels a lot, but sometimes my mind just wants more food for thought. Beautiful words and some philosophic thoughts are good for my soul from time to time. This was exactly that kind of story.

Raimond Gregorius is searching for people who have known the author (Amadeu de Prado) of a Portuguese book he has found in a bookstore in Bern. In the beginning I found it really exciting to read about the life, friends and family of de Prado, but halfway through the book I desperately wanted to know more about Raimond Gregorius himself. Fortunately the author seems to agree and he has added some background information and some thoughts of Gregorius to the story. Suddenly you get to see life and Lissabon through his eyes.

Amadeu de Prado’s words kind of touched my soul. I can relate to a lot of the topics, such as loneliness, being homesick or how well we actually know ourselves and others. Those are things I have often thought about myself. I could have written those down, as if they were a conversation with myself, but I have always kept those words inside me. It is lovely that Pascal Mercier has found a way, a story, to fit them in. It was really nice to read that and it makes me wonder if I should write more often. It somehow made me realize how much I think about stuff and how I am keeping it all to myself. I do appreciate it when a book makes me think.

While the life of Amadeu de Prado is over, Gregorius still has his in front of him. I would have loved to know what would happen next. It seems to have ended too soon. On the other hand, this story wasn’t just about Gregorius and his journey and the story had to end somewhere. I guess what happens next is not what’s important here. The important thing is that Gregorius actually got up and left his old life, that he finally had the courage to explore something else and that he thought about what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. It is something that many people dream about and most people are too scared to actually proceed. After all, you know what you’ve got right now and what’s out there is a big mystery…

Tell Me Tomorrow – Lynda Bellingham

tell me tomorrowTitle: Tell Me Tomorrow
Author: Lynda Bellingham
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pages: 471
My rating★★★★✫

I got this book as a present for either Christmas or my birthday, so it has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while now. It seemed like a good idea to add this one to the list for Paperback Summer.

What the book is about

Meredith has it all: a fabulous career, a beautiful daughter, and a lovely home, but she has no one to share it with. Behind this tirelessly successful facade lies the story of a woman who struggles to keep love in her life.

When Meredith’s daughter, Anna, starts making the same mistakes as her mother, the closest relationship Meredith has begins to crumble around her.

Can Meredith hold on to the career that drives her, and the one relationship she treasures? Or is she destined to be alone forever?

What I think about the book

This book is all about the relationships between mothers and daughters. I wonder if there are any relationships more difficult than that. Especially when things don’t always go as planned. In this book you’re not only meeting Meredith, the main character, but also the three women before her and her daughter Anna. All of these women have a secret of their own, which they eventually share with their daughters when the time is right. Even though the times are changing, the struggles of these women stay the same and their history seems to repeat itself time and again.

I must admit that, even though I liked the story from the beginning, I had to get used to the way it was written. At some points the story is really being told instead of lived through the women in the book. Not my favorite style of writing. That being said, the story itself was interesting enough to keep reading.

Of all the women in the book, Meredith’s part takes up most of the story. After we learn about the lives of her grandmother and mother, the story goes on with Meredith. She grows up on her parent’s farm and then moves to London to go to school. There she meets her best friend Oliver. Meredith isn’t lucky when it comes to love, but as a single mother she has good friends and a wonderful family to rely on. She is very focused on her career. She has started at a catering company and eventually ends up writing books and being a show host in the television world. When her daughter Anna has some news to share and her career seems to fall apart, Meredith has to gather all her strength to keep going.

I loved how this book takes you through time. Showing the differences for women growing up in different periods in time. I have always been a fan of the sixties and seventies myself, so it was lovely to read what London was like in those days while Meredith moves there and starts life on her own.

It took me about two weeks to finish this book, reading a small part of the book every time I picked it up. I am glad I did read it though as the story is very beautiful. It may take some time to get through this book, but it is definitely worth your time.

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