#BookReview THE MARTINS by DAVID FOENKINOS #TheMartins

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘Go out into the street and the first person you see will be the subject of your next book.’

This is the challenge a struggling Parisian writer sets himself, imagining his next heroine might be the mysterious young woman who often stands smoking near his apartment … instead it’s octogenarian Madeleine. She’s happy to become the subject of his book – but first she needs to put away her shopping.

Is it really true, the writer wonders, that every life is the stuff of novels, or is his story doomed to be hopelessly banal? As he gets to know Madeleine and her family, he’ll be privy to their secrets: lost loves, marital problems and workplace worries. And he’ll soon realise he is not the impartial bystander he intended to be, but a catalyst for major changes in the lives of his characters.

Told with Foenkinos’s characteristic irony and self-deprecating humour, yet filled with warmth, The Martins is a compelling tale of the family next door which raises questions about what it means to be ‘ordinary’, and about the blurred lines between truth and fiction.

PUBLISHED BY GALLIC BOOKS

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

Belgravia Books

MY REVIEW

Just how does a writer struggling for inspiration solve the problem?! In this book, the Parisian writer pledges to write about the first person he sees in the street, secretly hoping it’s the mysterious young neighbour he’s not managed to speak to yet….. but the universe makes him cross paths with Madeleine instead! An octogenarian whose most pressing thought is she needs to put her shopping away!!

And what follows is something that he, and you as the reader, doesn’t really expect. Under the spotlight, this woman who could have easily been an invisible person to the rest of the world, sees this as an opportunity to open up and reveal family secrets and tell her story – one that probably not many, if any, would think worth telling. But the more he delves, and the more her family get involved in the project he becomes privy to some astonishing tales and confessions. Far from the dull project he imagined when he first meets Madeleine and imagines her life to be somewhat underwhelming…… appearances can be very deceptive!

It really shows the beauty of connecting with people and both sides getting something out of a friendship – he almost becomes therapist to this family, and they in return allow him to evaluate his own life and connections with family and friends. It becomes very cathartic for all involved allowing for humour and much more touching revelations.

It is a story of reconnecting, regrets, rifts and romance and I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author approached the way of storytelling and the impact of opening up to others allows them all to take stock and take action in their lives.

★★★★

My thanks to the team at Gallic Books for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview THE SWIMMERS by CHLOE LANE

ABOUT THE BOOK

Longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2021

‘Darkly funny, desperately sad, brilliantly written. I absolutely loved it’ Claire Fuller, author of Unsettled Ground

This book is spectacular. A perfect blend of devastating humour and sadness’ Emily Austin, author of Everyone in This Room Will Someday be Dead

A sharp, quirky story of love and loss from a bold New Zealand talent.

When an affair ends badly and her career in the arts implodes, 26-year-old Erin returns to lie low at the family farm with her chronically ill mother, and her aunt-turned-carer. She learns shortly before her arrival that her mother has decided to take matters into her own hands and end her life – the following Tuesday.

Erin finds herself navigating an eccentric neighbourhood and her complicated family, as she prepares for the loss of a fiery, independent woman.

A former competitive swimmer like her mother and aunt, Erin must find the strength to honour her mother’s final wishes and to reconcile their difficult relationship in the days they have left.

PUBLISHED BY GALLIC PRESS

PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website

Amazon

MY REVIEW

Wow! This was one of those books that is a heavy read considering the topic BUT is lifted by the wonderful use of humour that many of us use in reality when dealing with an event that rocks our foundations and try to find a way of coping with it all.
Erin finds herself jobless and loveless after an office romance goes sour. So she goes to spend the holiday weekend with family – her aunt and uncle, and her terminally ill mother. The news she hears when she arrives shocks her and we are witnesses to the turmoil and brutal reality of that decision. How do you come to terms with the fact that your mother wants to take their own life?

It approaches the subject of assisted dying in a very clever and perceptive way. It doesn’t sugar coat it, but you see it in real terms and watching the different women involved coming to terms with the idea was brilliantly portrayed and played out. And that’s where the humour comes in to its’ own! Just because there’s a heavy situation doesn’t mean that life doesn’t throw up funny thoughts or circumstances and it takes the edge off perfectly. Their pasts are all explored and the importance of swimming is really at the core of it all -that sense of freedom and escapism that they felt when in the water is guiding them through the troubled times they find themselves facing now. The characters are all very strong females and I loved that angle which shaped their way of dealing with what life had thrown their way.

This was a stunning read and is a book that makes you think. A poignant story.

★★★★★

My thanks to the team at Gallic Press for my early copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookRevi:ew B: A YEAR IN PLAGUES AND PENCILS by EDWARD CAREY @BelgraviaB


ABOUT THE BOOK


‘I blame the pencil. I hadn’t meant to do it. I wasn’t thinking. It just happened that way.’

In March 2020, as lockdowns were imposed around the world, author and illustrator Edward Carey published a sketch on social media with a plan to keep posting a drawing a day from his family home in Austin, Texas, until life returned to normal. One hundred and fifty pencil stubs later, he was still drawing.

Carey’s hand moved with world events, chronicling pandemic and politics. It reached into the past, taking inspiration from history, and escaped grim reality through flights of vivid imagination and studies of the natural world. The drawings became a way of charting time, of moving forward, and maintaining connection at a time of isolation.

This remarkable collection of words and drawings from the acclaimed author of Little and The Swallowed Man charts a tumultuous year in pencil, finding beauty amid the horror of extraordinary times.


PUBLISHED BY GALLIC PRESS


PURCHASE LINK


BELGRAVIA BOOKS

MY REVIEW

This was a fascinating, absorbing and beautiful way of looking back at a year in lockdown. All through the eyes and stunning pencil drawings of the Author, as he began a project in March 2020 to draw a picture a day and upload it to social media until the madness of Covid left us…. he soon found the project carried on a lot longer than he had planned!

But having that distraction helped him cope, and the fact that many people online would eagerly anticipate the daily drawings kept him going and it is wonderful to see them all together here in this beautiful book! The words too strike a chord with his reflections on a very weird time in our history – his hopes and fears for the future mirroring our own! And how the simple action of committing to this project to begin with helped him cope with the uncertainty that each day brought.


A lesson to us all really in finding something to distract ourselves and giving ourselves a different focus each day. I do something similar with photographs on Blipfoto, and just having that outlet each day is a great way of dealing with life and all it throws our way! And it’s a wonderful way to look back over a period of time, as with these wonderful drawings that Edward Carey has put together. It reflects his mood on each day, those in the news, various historical figures,animals and memories and the attention to detail is so intricate and captivating.

I loved his honesty and frankness in the journalling side of this project. His yearnings to return home to London, and his experiences of lockdown in Texas and it just made for a wonderfully extraordinary piece of work for a year none of us will ever forget!

My thanks to the team at Gallic Press for a copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.

★★★★★