I am a recent convert back to the lands of Goodreads, and thought I would share a couple of my shorter reviews on things which I have read recently.
The Bricks That Built the Houses by Kate Tempest ***
I was so very excited to begin this, adoring Tempest’s poetry as I do. I was expecting the language to be sweepingly gorgeous, and to evoke an awful lot of vivid pictures as the novel progressed. There were sections where the vocabulary startled or awed me, certainly, but others seemed so run-of-the-mill that there was an odd, almost jarring effect given to the whole.
The family dynamics presented here, and the way in which different lives overlap and intersect, are Tempest’s strength; she understands humans, and all of their many complexities. The plot is rather thin on the ground, though; we learn about the pasts of each character, but it is simply not compelling enough to carry the whole. Had the writing been better, I probably would have awarded this four stars.
The Bonniest Companie by Kathleen Jamie ****
Each of these fifty-two poems presents a view of Scotland, written, as they were, once a week. The scenes which Jamie depicts are startling and evocative; her poems are thoughtful, playful, gracious, and important. Jamie’s poetry is as beautifully measured as her prose. The sense of history – both in a general and personal sense – here is stunning too, particularly when contrasted with Jamie’s present wanderings.
Funny Girl by Nick Hornby **
I picked this up solely because I have very much enjoyed the majority of Hornby’s books in the past (aside from Fever Pitch, which I didn’t even begin; please don’t alert my Arsenal-supporting boyfriend…). I wasn’t overly enamoured with the storyline before I began, as the 1960s and 1970s are eras of history which I don’t profess much interest in. The writing was flat, and the characters did not spring to life, as I remember almost all of Hornby’s previous creations doing.
My primary issue here is that a book which has been described as having ‘clever, funny dialogue’ (Nina Stibbe), ‘hilarious’ (The Huffington Post), and ‘deeply funny’ (The Stylist) feels so lacking in humour and depth. In my struggle through the novel, I did not come across even one witty repartee, or smirk-inducing sentence to share with you.
I must admit that I did not even read a quarter of this book; my lack of enjoyment up until that point, as well as the incredibly varied reviews – the majority of negative ones saying, as they did, that they didn’t enjoy it from the start – put me off completely. Sorry, Hornby, but this was not for me.