May 2016: quite possibly my month of the fewest books ever. I managed just three, and one of them is a German book from my hometown that will never be translated, so this month’s bookshelf remains very short indeed.
The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier
Another recommendation from a colleague and a book I probably wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. I wasn’t blown away by the title story, but some of the lesser known short stories in this collection really got to me – particularly Monte Verita, about two men’s lifelong search for a women spirited away by a mysterious mountain sect, and The Little Photorapher, which explores the darker side of romantic obsession. Most of these stories are quite disturbing in an uncomfortable, somebody-get-her-a-therapist kind of way and all shine a revealing light on the depths of the human psyche. Overall a very enjoyable and captivating collection that definitely made me want to dig deeper into the work of Daphne du Maurier.
Pens: 4 out of 5
The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson
Another hilarious and totally incredible story from the genius behind The Hundred-Year-Old-Man…, this time about a girl born in a shack in South Africa who goes on to become a figure of significant influence behind the scenes of international politics. As always with Jonasson, it works if you’re prepared to go along on a ridiculous rollercoaster ride without questioning any of the plot twists. If you can do that (and it took me about the first half of the first book to get into the right state of mind), it’s a wonderful story about an improbable heroine, a guy who doesn’t exist, an atomic bomb which technically doesn’t exist either but nevertheless causes serious mayhem around the world, and a loveable cast of royalists, revolutionaries and general weirdos. Jonasson writes with wit and a whole lot of heart, and has once again produced a book that feels like a road trip with a good friend – a delightfully Swedish good friend.
Pens: 3 out of 5