Some Kind of Fairy Tale is an atmospheric modern day fairy tale set in a small English village near the woods. The novel begins with the mysterious reappearance of a woman who disappeared twenty years before. The initial explanation she gives is vague, and the one she later gives infuriates her brother with its unbelievability. Is she lying to hide a shameful or incriminating secret? Did something traumatic happen to her that made her subconscious mind translate the memory into something more tolerable? Is she crazy? Could it be real? While this mystery unfolds, regular life unfolds for these characters as well, as they deal with anger, guilt, fear of growing up, or growing older, illness, and the painful awkwardness of social interactions. Graham Joyce's writing style is terrific - while I would classify this as literary fiction, it is at the same time an escape from (or within?) literary fiction.
A mysterious young actress with a fatal diagnosis, a hopeful young Italian pensione keeper, a reprobate Hollywood producer and his frustrated assistant, Richard Burton at the beginning of his relationship with Elizabeth Taylor, a post-WWII American soldier trying to write his depression away, a no-longer young musician trying to make a comeback at The Fringe…This richly imagined novel uses shifts in time and place to traverse the fates of its several struggling characters. Reading it may make you wonder if you have been “pitched” a movie about the Donner party, but a backwater theater stages such a beautiful pivot in the plot…
This is the funniest book I’ve read this year. It features a family headed west from Birmingham for California where the evangelist father of two very different daughters expects to get the best seats available for the coming Rapture. Their drive through the south is full of hysterical characters and family struggle. The sister who tells the story is a believer;the other is a cynic. Mary Miller is a master of character and situation. I expect to see many other books from this new novelist.
The Farm, the latest thriller from the excellent Tom Rob Smith, is a fascinating psychological thriller. Daniel's parents have retired to their newly-purchased farm in Sweden when he receives a phone call from his father saying Daniel's mother has had a nervous breakdown and suffering paranoid delusions. Shocked by this news, Daniel finds that his mother has just flown to London and is now on his doorstep, claiming Daniel's father is involved in some conspiracy, perhaps even a murder. Torn between which parent to believe, Daniel listens as his mother presents her "testimony". The Farm presents us with interesting themes of deception, perception and the puzzling fact that people are often more willing to believe a man before they will a woman. (Daniel's mother asserts that if this was one hundred years earlier, they would have simply locked her in the attic.) Fair warning: allow yourself some time when you begin this book, as it is nearly impossible to stop reading once you start. And don't miss Mr. Smith's exceptional first novel, Child 44!