The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E Reichert*
Al is the critic whose harsh words are destroying Lou's restaurant - it's unfortunate, then, that they have met, decided not to tell each other what they do for a living, and started to fall in love. It's not a new twist but it can be done well. Sadly, this version of it left me underwhelmed - nothing about it surprised me other than Al's fetish for women dressed in brown. Reading a chapter about a cloudburst as a cloud burst outside my window was pleasingly dramatic but, alas, not guaranteed for every reader. I do see the irony of giving a mediocre review to a book about a bad review but I'm fairly sure I'm not unknowingly dating the author, so...
Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy*
I've always thought of Maeve Binchy as being an author for the older generation (and, to be fair to me: when I formed this opinion - around 1989 - that was technically true). Then I found out that professional book lover, Sarah, is a big fan. Then I was offered a review copy of this book. It was time to reassess.
Chestnut Street is a collection of stories written over several decades, all centring around people living on - yes - Chestnut Street in Dublin. Certain themes come up again and again - absentee fathers; poorly chosen boyfriends; quietly concerned parents - which I did find a little repetitive but there are some lovely, unusual stories in there, too. I found the concept fascinating - what would be revealed if somebody wrote about all of my neighbours? - and I enjoyed the simple, natural style of writing. So: Maeve Binchy? Definitely for my generation, too.
Frank Derrick's Holiday of a Lifetime by J.B. Morrison*
Another book which I approached with some hesitation - when will I learn not to judge a book by its used-to-be-in-Carter-USM-so-probably-marketing-novel-on-back-of-musical-nostalgia author? This is the story of an 82 year old British man who spends all his money and loses his home so that he can visit his sick daughter and sardonic granddaughter in Los Angeles. And it is funny. The writing is dry and clever, the characters weary and familiar, the plot simple but engaging. My top recommendation of the month.
The Anatomy of Parks by Kat Gordon*
When the narrator calls in to work to say that there has been a family emergency, her boss doesn't believe her. Unfortunately, nor did I. The writing style didn't work for me and, for all the attempts at intrigue, nothing much seemed to happen. I gave up at 20%.
*Provided by the publisher or agent for review