What I've Been Reading Recently

What I've Been Reading Recently

Lost Cat by Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton
Caroline Paul was recovering from a massive accident when her cat, Tibby, disappeared. Five weeks later, Tibby returned. Caroline and her partner, Wendy (who illustrated the book), set about trying to find out where he had been using GPS, collar-mounted cameras and pet detectives. A short tale which made me wince with recognition, laugh now and then, and cry once or twice, it's a lovely read for those of us who would feel lost without our cats.

A Special Relationship by Douglas Kennedy
Sally (American) and Tony (British) are war reporters who meet in the field, start a relationship, discover they're having an unplanned baby, rush into marriage and settle in London. Sally has a traumatic birth then plunges into postnatal depression while Tony is snippy and unhelpful. Sally finds herself in a psychiatric hospital being threatened with electric shock treatment and then I stopped reading because, good grief, I hated both of these people. I also hated how little research Kennedy had bothered doing into either antenatal care in Britain or what happens when a woman has a caesarean. I wanted this to be an insightful novel about postnatal depression because it's time it lost some of its stigma but, instead, this reinforced a lot of unhelpful generalisations, not to mention some very dated stereotypes about us Brits.

Awkward Situations for Men by Danny Wallace
A collection of columns and anecdotes by Danny Wallace (who will be known to a lot of Brits as that funny guy off the telly and to everyone else as the real life Yes Man). It's okay. I mean, the clue was in the name: it's largely "men; we're a bit rubbish and we like pints and we're a pretty affable bunch even if we do forget to clean the toilet" stuff. It's not helping to move gender stereotypes onwards and not many of the jokes really deserve three and a half pages of words. I got the feeling the first half of the book was cobbled together to give him a reason to publish the second half; in the second half something big happens and the writing becomes longer and more open and genuinely touching and I wished that the book had started there.

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon*
Helen is a lonely teenager who falls in with the bohemian Dover family. While she tags along with the cocky, charismatic Victoria, her father undertakes a massive project with Piet. But the summer can only last so long... I'm not usually a fan of coming-of-age novels but this one spoke to me; I could completely empathise with Helen's crush on the arty Dovers and I really didn't want to reach whatever disaster it was that the book blurb promised. I wasn't entirely convinced by the turns Helen's adult life had taken but so little of the book is given over to them that that really didn't matter.

*Provided by publisher or agent for review

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