As I write crime thrillers, it’s good to step outside the genre and read something rather different. Here are some of the books I’ve recently read and enjoyed that focus on relationships (and maybe a few crimes!).
I was fascinated by Exquisite (Orenda Books) by Sarah Stovell. The novel centres on the affair which develops between Bo Luxton, a best selling author who is married with two children living in the Lake District and Alice Dark a young aspiring writer in a dead end job and relationship in Brighton. They meet at a workshop run by Bo and their friendship develops via emails and then Alice’s visits to the author. The story is brilliantly told from both viewpoints and both characters are unreliable in their narration. Totally absorbing .
In The Cruelty of Lambs (Urbane Publications) Angelena Boden tackles the complicated issue of domestic abuse. Her main characters – Ian and Una – are well drawn and the plot moves along at a cracking pace. The narrative switches from Ian, a cellist who lost his teaching job when wrongly accused of inappropriate behaviour, to Una, a high-flyer who stands to lose the business she built up. Financial ruin faces them but their reactions couldn’t be more different. The supporting characters – friends of the couple who become entangled in the situation – are realistic and their concerns are credible. A thought-provoking and often disturbing read which challenges your preconceptions.
If you like a sexy and mature romantic read, you’ll love Seeking Eden by Beverley Harvey (Urbane Publications). Kate and Neil decide to move out of London after they are burgled and settle into a new, up-market housing estate. But Neil’s job is still in the capital and he spends some of the week staying over at a friend’s flat leaving Kate to her own devices and her new neighbours and Ben – the boyfriend who had walked out on her years ago and now wants to rekindle their relationship… A good contemporary read with well-drawn characters.
One of my favourite recent reads is My Name is Lucy Barton (Penguin), my first foray into Elizabeth Strout’s fiction. I love a first person narrative when it’s told well, and this one is perfection told by Lucy Barton, from her hospital bed, reminiscing about her family and their poverty, which isolated them from the community where they lived. Lucy moved up in the world and became estranged from her parents but it is her mother’s unexpected vigil in the hospital room that helps Lucy reassess her past and move towards a different future. A short but totally absorbing read.
Currently reading and would recommend Jackie Buxton’s Glass Houses and Beware the Cuckoo by Julia Newman, both published by Urbane Publications.