Three books today, two novellas and a longer book.
The two novellas were:
Kill Swap (James Lovegrove)
Despite being only about 60 pages in length, I really got a lot out of this book. It started with what seemed to be a Strangers on a Train-type plot – a boy, whose dad is being hounded by an uncompromising loan shark, agrees to kill a banker in the city he doesn’t know in return for the loan shark getting killed by someone else. But then the twists kick in. The problem with the short length of the novel is that we don’t really get given time to feel for the lad at the centre of it all – we get that he feels guilty, but he literally dwells over it for about three lines. That said, I really enjoyed it and thought it was very clever, particularly the nice bit of revenge at the end.
Fame Thing (Jonathan Meres)
This is about a football-mad teenage girl, George, who befriends the footballer that has just moved into her town, despite everyone else thinking he’s “bad news.” Completely unrealistic and predictable from start to finish (George is in a wheelchair, and as soon as the footballer’s agent sees her in a wheelchair you can just work out that he wants to get the two together cos it’s good PR), though it had some nice domestic scenes between George and her brother, as well as George and her best friend Nick. Overall though, I think the book couldn’t decide what it wanted to be – a comment on the state of the media (which Kill Swap did terrifically), the story of a teenage girl getting hormones, or a warning about the dangers of being too successful too quickly. In the end, it didn’t achieve any of those things.
And the book I read was:
The Mathematics of Love (Emma Darwin)
Reading this is becoming somewhat of a Summertime ritual now, though at times, it’s anything but a sunny read. The Mathematics of Love follows Stephen Fairhust, a Major returned from the brutality of Wellington's Peninsular War and Anna Ware, a 15 year old girl whose been fobbed off by her irresponsible mother, forced to live with her uncle and drunken grandmother in a dilapidated ex-school. Both experience love, though it’s far from without it’s tribulations. Stephen writes letters to Miss Durward, and, 150 years later, these letters are read by Anna, linking our two protagonists together.
Although it does take some getting into and not much seems to occur at first, every line was beautifully formed. I definitely preferred Stephen to Anna; some petulant streaks to Anna’s personality rendered her very dislikeable to me to begin with, but towards the end, I grew to respect her. I thought the way Darwin presented the relationship Anna pursued with an older man, photographer Theo, as well as the third person in their relationship Eva, was terrific, so, for that, I kind of preferred the modern strand more. Ooh, and I cried for poor Cecil. :( Overall, I really, really enjoyed this book.