Monday, January 09, 2017

My favourite reads of 2016: General fiction

I'm a bit late with this, I know, but I just needed to mention a few more books I've read and loved that aren't crime or memoirs. I think they are definitely worth a mention as they have all left an impression on me. This is a no particular category list, but I'll explain why I've chosen them in each case.




* Anywhere the Wind Blows by Jenny Lloyd. This is the third in the Megan Jones trilogy set in 19th century Wales. I've read all three books now and this was the one that wrapped the story up. I really loved this series. It has a Thomas Hardy atmosphere being set in the heart of rural life and dealing with the social issues pertinent to village folk at the time. Society was harsh and dominated by austere religious beliefs, but in the end compassion and humanity shine through. Absolutely riveting. Jenny Lloyd captures the spirit and morals of the times, the character of the people and the beauty of the Welsh scenery like no other.




* Silent Water by Jan Ruth. Again, this is the third book of a trilogy, so maybe I should be talking about all three here, and again it is set in Wales, a country I have deep affection for. This series is a modern day relationship driven saga that is so real and so compelling I couldn't put the books down when I started them. Silent Water sort of wraps the series up, but does it? I don't know if there will be another as it does leave a few questions at the end. Once again, the sense of place is paramount and it is highly character driven. I loved the whole series and this one was just the final touch.




*Best Seller and The Other Side, both by Terry Tyler.
Best Seller is a novella that speaks to many of us who seek success in writing. A well conceived story with characters that are real and believable, it deals with what happens when someone plagiarises a story...the sort of fraud that happens more often than we think.

The Other Side is possibly among my favourite Terry Tyler novels. It's actually quite genius in its construction and it answers the question in novel form of what might happen (or have happened) if we made (or had made) different choices in life. It's complicated and needs focus, but I thought it was brilliant.




*Marielle by Peter Davey. I read this first in December 2015, but I read it again over the summer. I just love Peter Davey's writing and this is one of the most beautifully crafted and moving stories I've read in a long time. The story centres on a French dentist, who, bored with his perfectly average life, wife and daughter, fancies himself in love with a woman he meets by chance in an underground car park. All three of Peter Davey's French novellas have a special quality and much is down to the superb crafting and the characterisation. Marielle, in particular, is like watching a French film in words. Wonderful writing.



* A Delicate Truth by John Le Carré. From one of my favourite writers of all time, this novel, like so many of his more recent books, focuses on the deceptions woven by those in high places against the rest of us mere mortals. To say what it is about would be to give the story away, but read it. You will never feel quite the same again about what our special forces and intelligence services do in the name of 'protecting' us all, nor about the people who are in charge of them. It's a world in which Le Carré himself has much experience, so the reader has more than uncomfortably aware that it is quite possibly true. No image for this one. There are several, so I didn't know which one to pick.

* Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald. I read this book for the first time about fifteen years ago, and only recently found it again. It is just the most beautiful story about a motley group of people living on gradually deteriorating wooden Thames barges on the Thames near Battersea. Written in the 80s, it won several literary prizes then, but I guess it's largely been forgotten. It's one of those books I would never want to be without. I'm not sure if it's even in print anymore, but if it is, it's worth buying and keeping.



*Charlie, the Dog who Came in From the Cold,  by Lisa Tenzin Dolma. A wonderful and inspiring book about the author's experiences in living with and learning from a Romanian rescue dog she adopted. Because Charlie had been living so far from human life and contact, he was to all intents and purposes completely wild and so helping him to adapt to life among humans was an amazing, learning experience for animal behaviour expert, Lisa. The book is by turns fascinating, moving and heart breaking. It is a must for anyone with a dog suffering from fear issues of any kind.



* In the Throes of Progress by Lynn M Dixon. This is the fourth in a series of inspirational novellas about a young American couple Tyre and Phoenix. I cannot really put my finger on what is special about these stories. They have a calm and restful quality and reading them is a kind of meditation. I would describe it as contemplative reading in the same way that Miksang photography is contemplative image making. This book continues the story of the couple's relationship and how they build up their trust in one another. Lynn Dixon writes a lovely blog too, which I follow.


I know I've read many other very good books this last year, but these are the ones that have stood out for me and that I remember clearly. I am busy reading again now, but I've slowed down a little as I'm also writing too. As I've already mentioned, I'm not a book blogger or reviewer, nor are these awards; they are simply books that I've enjoyed and like to share with those of you who read my blog.

Normal stories will be resumed next week. I hope you are all having a great start to the new year... despite being too cold, too wet, too windy, too hot, too everything! It's just that time of year isn't it? All the best anyway, wherever you are in the world!

16 comments:

  1. There's a few here a that I fancy Val .

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    1. Oh dear, Anne! As if you don't have enough to read already :)

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  2. What a lovely, interesting and varied selection. Will definitely get the John le Carré book and look out for Penelope Fitzgerald. They all sound good reads. Happy New Year Val and looking forward to reading more adventures from Holland x

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    1. Oh thank you, Angela! I'm glad you've seen some possible reading here too. I'll be back to normal life stories next week for sure!

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  3. Oh, Val. I am so honored to be listed and certainly along with Peter Davey's Marielle. Thank you so much! Lynn

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    1. You're welcome, Lynn. I think the Tyre and Phoenix books are balm for a busy mind!

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  4. All sound so interesting, and I don't know how you find time to read so much! I am a slow reader... However, love Thomas Hardy so Jenny Lloyd is the stand-out one for me. Happy new Year Val.

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    1. Highly reommended, Patricia! Read them all, starting with Leap the Wild Water!

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  5. Thanks, Val. A lovely and interesting - and moving - selection. And even writing about books that other authors have written, your own sparkling writing style shines through. Happy 2017!

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    1. Thanks, Steph. That's very kind of you to say so, but then you are very kind...always!

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  6. Thank you so much, Val! Glad you enjoyed the Wild Water series. Jack has been my most popular character I think.

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    1. My pleasure, Jan (just had to change this cos I called you Ruth! I keep making that mistake :)) It's a great series with a wonderful sense of place and Jack's personality makes it!

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  7. Two!!!! My goodness, thanks so much, Val xx

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    1. Haha, I read more TTs than I realised last year :)

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  8. Well, that's started my day on an uplifting note, Val. Thank you! And I'm amidst such talented company, too! :-) xxx

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  9. Thanks Val - I read the Penelope Fitzgerald just before Xmas - got it from a charity shop. I thought of you when I read it - but heaven forbid that your life is as shambolic as that....

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