By Ralph McAllister
The February summer might have made us feel a bit grumpy weather wise, but not in the reading department, where friends at Paper Plus and Kath at my local came up with two stunning recommendations.
Oddly enough, both debut female authors have chosen very grumpy old men to tell their stories. Perhaps my friends had me in mind?
A stunning debut
The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley is one of the most heart-warming and touching novels you will read this year, and read it you must!
Julian age 79, lives in London, decides to write an account of his life, challenging whoever reads it to write as truthfully as he has. He leaves the small, green notebook in his local cafe where Monica the cleanliness fetishist owner picks it up, reads it and decides to track Julian down while accepting the challenge to write truthfully about her life.
From there the diary travels to Thailand with alcoholic Hazard, back to London to awesome backpacker Oz Riley, then wealthy baby-resenting Alice and the closet handsome Benji.
They all meet through the truth challenge and the results are truly joyful, funny and deeply moving.
It will be published next month.
Thanks to Kaye from Paper Plus.
Another excellent novel
When All is Said by Anne Griffin has us meet Maurice who at 84 sits at the bar in Ireland, almost alone, and thinks about the five most important people in his life.
He toasts each in stout and whiskey in separate chapters. The characters are linked inextricably through the action of young Maurice stealing a commemorative coin depicting the vanity-obsessed Edward VIII. Toby, his older brother whom Maurice adored, died first. The account of their early lives together is a moving account of brotherly love.
Tragedy strikes again with the stillborn of Molly, Sadie and Maurice’s first child. Noreen his sister in law, the third to be toasted, has spent much time in an asylum but shared many happy times with Maurice and helped solve the puzzle of the stolen coin.
The final toast is to his beloved Sadie. The marriage account will be read by his son Kevin after Maurice finally “retires,”
A heart wrenching story which will move you to tears. I guarantee.
But just to finish, grumpily, avoid Imaginary friend by Stephen Chbosky a fantasy story which started promisingly enough but after 200 pages of the 700 I had to admit defeat.
I kept thinking of Philip Pullman and what he might have done with similar material then remembered he had already done it.