Book Reviews - May 2018

Book Reviews – May 2018

by Elizabeth Kay

Elizabeth Kay offers Sussex Living readers her thoughts on recent reads that have caught her attention. She gives her views on a selection of books from different genres which may capture your interest.

The Quality of Silence

  • by Rosamund Lupton

Although the basic premise is a bit far- fetched – Yasmin, an astro-physicist, travels to northern Canada with her ten-year-old daughter, Ruby, to find husband Matt who is missing, presumed dead, in the Arctic wilderness. To make matters worse, Ruby is profoundly deaf and refuses to try and speak in anything other than sign language, and it’s winter, so the sun never rises and it’s perpetually dark. The irresponsibility of Yasmin’s behaviour is the main problem, and although the writer tries to justify her course of action in the character’s own mind, I’m not convinced. Ruby is a bit too adult for her age in many ways. The depiction of the Alaskan tundra is excellent, and you can almost feel the extreme cold – it’s a book to read with a blanket or a duvet wrapped around you. The underlying mystery about Matt’s disappearance is linked to fracking, and there is an environmental undercurrent throughout the book. It’s tense, it’s dramatic, it’s different. And I had no idea how it was going to end.

The Silver Brumby

  • by Elyne Mitchell

I first read this reissued book in the nineteen sixties and was captivated by the description of the Australian outback. A brumby is a wild horse, and most of them live in the Australian Alps. They are descended from animals that have escaped, and have a mixed ancestry which can range from carthorse to thoroughbred to Arab. Every so often they are rounded up – mustered – and the best of them broken in and used as stock horses. The story is told in the third person from the point of view of Thowra, a palomino stallion, much sought after by man for his unusual cream colouring. We are privy to his thoughts, and those of some of the other horses, but the book never becomes sentimental. When he encounters another palomino, domesticated and held captive (in his view) he rescues her and becomes even more of a target. The writing is above average, and very educational about the flora and fauna of the region. I think this is a must for horse-mad kids.

The Dry

  • by Jane Harper

This book relies on secrets that the protagonist knows, and the reader doesn’t. It makes a nice change to have a pleasant character at the centre; most detectives these days have relationship issues, psychological problems or dark pasts. The story revolves around a multiple shooting that looks at first glance like two murders followed by a suicide. The apparent perpetrator was Aaron’s childhood friend, Luke. There are consequently a lot of flashbacks from different perspectives, but they are never confusing. The book’s main strength lies in the unusual setting; a small town in Australia, in the middle of a drought, which is well-described and atmospheric. The economic effect the lack of rain has on everyone – as well as the sheer stress of living under a blazing sun – is something I hadn’t properly imagined before, but it also makes one aspect of the ending no surprise at all. Isolated communities seem to have a convoluted life of their own, as people frequently marry those they’ve known their entire lives, and histories and misunderstandings go back a long way.