It’s Good Friday. Or as I so hilariously quipped on the twitters this morning when the water was turned off in the street while I was in the shower – Just Ok Friday. Adding to the just okayness was the blossoming of the UK Man Flu which my father thoughtfully brought back from his holiday and shared firstly with my mother, then my sister and lastly, me. It was turning out to be a day of headaches, boredom, thirstiness and remembering not to flush the toilet.
For those who have put up with my continued worrying about my inability to read fiction and enjoy it (slow reading appreciation collective aside) we may worry no longer. Also, thank you for your patience. For now I feel I may say that it wasn’t me! I wasn’t the problem! It was the books!! They were rubbish. Boring. Dull. Not interesting. All of the above. A better book was I all needed.
I thought I had found it a couple of weeks ago when on the recommendation of a friend I whipped through Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett in under a week. Unheard of pace for me especially given I was reading it at night which is usually “read to fall asleep” time. But there was still a niggling concern. Sure, I’d managed to read an entire book without giving up on it. I’d felt compelled to finish it. All positive reading signs. But it was a memoir. Did that count? I love memoirs, biographies, autobiographies. They’re my go to for recreational reading. I still hadn’t read a novel by myself since last year. (All the Light We Cannot See – recommend). A new novel. And read it without falling asleep before finishing the first chapter never to return to it again.
Then came this:
It’s been sitting on my coffee table for some months after an impulsive purchase in town. And there it remained while I bought a version on my Kindle late last night. (Yes, I know. Stupid. You don’t like reading on a screen. Wendy, you already had a perfectly good copy in the next room. I know all those things. Shush.)
And I knew that this was the one. From the first pages. (Ok, just pipe down “real book” pedants. I know the Kindle doesn’t technically have pages but come along with me). I had to force myself to put it down and go to sleep. And today, being double Sunday/ Just OK Friday meant I had time to read. I tentatively started back into it this morning wondering whether I had been mistaken last night. Whether suddenly it would all go wrong and I’d (as usual) put it down and never pick it up again. Whether it would be one of the many novels on my Kindle that I have started and left glowing in the night, never to return to them. (Jasper Jones, the one about the lighthouse that is also the Worst Movie in the World, the Marion Keyes, the list goes on and on and on).
Fear not! This book had me On Board. From the Start to the Finish. It was haunting (literally and metaphorically) and I Could Not put it Down. And so my friends, I finished it and wondered whether I would ever read another novel again that swept me up so completely with such exhilaration.
(Meanwhile, Tim Winton’s The Shepherd’s Hut languishes on the same coffee table….started about 10 days ago….and not particularly inclined to pick it up again. If I wanted to read about toxic masculinity….wait….no….I don’t).