The second month of lockdown and though I do have more time to read, I’m struggling to focus. Book Club via Zoom is a welcome distraction from the everyday monotony of life at the moment. It was a small meeting but filled with laughter.
In An Instant – Suzanne Redfearn
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book at all, but having read the blurb, I had enough interest to whack it on the book club list and I’m glad I did. It is a really interesting idea, well written with some great characters. The story about the aftermath of a serious car crash, and how the group copes with the situation is told by 16 year old Finn who died in the crash (this is not a spoiler, it’s in the blurb) as she watches the drama unfold. The characters are so well written that I actually felt very strongly about many of them, some I loved, some I hated, but nobody was left unfinished, they each had a personality and motives for their behaviours. As a study in human nature, this was very interesting, particularly when I read the afterword and realised that the book was based on an experience that Redfearn had as a child.
Would you survive a crash off the side of a mountain road in freezing temperatures?Would you look after the others? Would you not even bother trying? Would you let your child go on holiday with another family? What would you do if you had taken someone else’s child on holiday and their life was now in danger? Would you go for help? Would you stay put, keep warm and wait to be found? These are just some of the questions that run through your head whilst reading this book, it really makes you think and honestly had me hooked. I picked up the book and read it within 24 hrs because I wanted to know what would happen next. Was it perfect? No, and one aspect really irritated me, but it was very very good and I would definitely recommend it. I gave this book 4.5* and the rest off the group scored it 4*- 4.5*, if you’re stuck for a summer read, give it a go, you’ll probably like it, you might even love it!
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
Well this is a modern classic, it doesn’t make it to many ‘100 books you should read in your lifetime’ lists, but it is considered a classic and has been made into a film twice and a TV show. There was a lot of hype surrounding the Netflix show which I ignored, mostly because I’m not really a fan of horror films/TV so I had no real idea what to expect from the book. What I did expect however was to be scared or freaked out by the story, having read that it is often considered the best ghost story of the 20th century. I’m honestly not sure how it was ever labelled the best, I can only assume that there were very few ghost stories written in the 20th century. The story was not scary at all, it didn’t even have me on the edge of my seat the way a good thriller does, it all seemed a little vague and though the writing is very good, the story is not and I truly don’t understand the status that this book has.
The characters in the book are fairly interesting and for the most part they are well developed. The synopsis: Dr Montague has an interest in the occult and as such has an interest in Hill house which is renowned as a haunted house. He rents Hill House for a summer, then invites several people (carefully chosen because of their past experience with paranormal events) to stay with him. Only two of those invited accept, they are Theadora and Eleanor and along with Dr Montague and Luke, who is the heir to the house, they will stay at the house for the summer. They are greeted by the housekeeper Mrs Dudley and her husband, who are happy to set the house up for the group, but will not stay there and have a very rigid way of working. I have my own theories about Mrs Dudley, that would explain the guests experiences in the house, but I will not share as they may spoil the plot. The book was OK, I didn’t hate it but I was disappointed, I wanted to be on the edge of my seat, I wanted unputdownable anxiety reading, what I got was a little story about a creepy house, meh… I gave the book 3* and the rest of the group agreed. It’s not a long or difficult read, but don’t expect earth shattering fiction.