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Minervasbutler

Minervasbutler

Joined May 2016

I read just about anything
review
Minervasbutler
A Naked Singularity: A Novel | Sergio De La Pava
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Sprawling and occasionally over-exuberant tale of a NYC public defender who gets drawn into a heist. Beneath the dazzling pyrotechnics and boxing stuff there's a beating heart and real anger. I found it very readable once I'd got into it.

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Minervasbutler
All Change | Elizabeth Jane Howard
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A final return to the Cazalets after 18 years and perhaps not wholly successful, with a lot of recapping and several beloved characters behaving rather out of character. But if you're a fan you'll want to read it anyway, if only for completeness sake.

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Minervasbutler
Casting Off | Elizabeth Jane Howard
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The Cazalets confront the new challenges of peacetime, and a Labour government and the familiar one of choosing totally unsuitable partners. The Polly and Louise storylines are perhaps a bit Mills and Boony but hey I'm an addict.

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Minervasbutler
Confusione | Elizabeth Jane Howard
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Third in her Cazalet Chronicle and Louise, Polly, and Clary are growing up and learning some hard truths about life and love as the war rages on. Wonderful.

merelybookish I read this series recently. This volume and the next were my favourites! 4w
49 likes1 comment
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Minervasbutler
Marking Time | Elizabeth Jane Howard
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Second in her Cazalet Chronicle, and war has finally broken out, though life continues much as before for the Cazalet women and children, albeit with ever more noticeable privations and inconveniences.
The focus is very much on the younger generation, the girls in particular, and EJH brilliantly captures the mutual bafflement and resentment that is such a feature of relations between adolescents and their parents.

LeahBergen This will be my year of reading the Cazalet Chronicles (or starting to, anyway!). I‘ve loved the other EJH novels that I‘ve read. 1mo
quietjenn @LeahBergen I'd totally be down to buddy read them, if you are inclined! 1mo
48 likes2 comments
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Minervasbutler
The Light Years | Elizabeth Jane Howard
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First of her Cazalet family saga, set on the eve of World War 2. Some memorable characters but it's the children who steal the show. Very enjoyable.

Ruthiella I‘m hoping to start this series next year! 🤞 1mo
Cathythoughts I really enjoyed this first one too … I‘ve yet to make it to the second book , but soon I hope 🤞🏻 1mo
56 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Minervasbutler
56 Days | Catherine Ryan Howard
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Ciara and Oliver, both twenty-something newcomers to Dublin meet, apparently by chance, just a couple of weeks before Dublin goes into full-blown lockdown. And as it does, Ciara makes the momentous decision to move into Oliver's swish apartment. But it soon becomes clear that Oliver's past holds a dark secret... (cue doomy music). First rate thriller.

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Minervasbutler
The Every: A Novel | Dave Eggers
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Follow-up to The Circle, the target of Eggers' satire here is less the Facebook/Google/Apple monstrosity but the wider question of what we as a species are doing to ourselves in the name of "safety" and our determination to avoid being offended or disturbed at all cost. Funny and chilling in equal measure.

plemmdog Did you enjoy it more than The Circle? I just finished Circle and was kind of underwhelmed…on the fence about this one 2mo
Minervasbutler @plemmdog I read The Circle when it came out and enjoyed it. This one is basically more of the same so maybe not for you. I totally get the criticism that it's a bit unsubtle. 2mo
47 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Minervasbutler
The Master: A Novel | Colm Toibin
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A novelistic reimagining of the life of Henry James, which selects certain key episodes of the writer's life in an attempt to understand the man behind the work.
There's great pleasure to be had in Tóibín's subtle accounts of the gestation of masterpieces like The Turn of the Screw or The Wings of the Dove, and this reimagining of an inner life made me feel I understood James in a way that few biographies have ever done.

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Minervasbutler
The Only Good Indians | Stephen Graham Jones
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Mehso-so

Slightly underwhelming tale of four Native American men and their run-in with a ghostly elk. Lots of people loved it but I found it a bit of a struggle to be honest.

IamIamIam Thanks for your honesty! I'm debating on this one but I've seen so many folks gushing about it that I've been skeptical. 👍 3mo
JamieArc I didn‘t love it either. The creep factor never really came through for me until maybe the very end. 3mo
JenniferEgnor I got about 50 or so pages in and had to bail. I hate to do that to any book but I just couldn‘t get into it. 3mo
See All 6 Comments
Reggie I gave it a pick but this was obviously 3 1/2 novellas stitched together to make a book. And it isn‘t always successful at times. 3mo
Smrloomis Huh, I can‘t handle scary things at all so if y‘all didn‘t think it was creepy then maybe I‘ll give it a try 😂 @JamieArc @JenniferEgnor @Reggie or have you read others by him you liked? 3mo
JenniferEgnor @Minervasbutler I haven‘t, yet. 3mo
69 likes6 comments
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Minervasbutler
Piranesi | Susanna Clarke
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More than most, this is a book that depends for its effect on knowing very little about it before you dive in, which makes it a bit of a bugger to review. It's short enough to be read in one or two sittings, though, so that would be my tip. And don't give up in irritated bafflement after a few pages. The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.

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Minervasbutler
Monstrous Regiment | Terry Pratchett
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Young Polly Perks cuts off her hair, (and would have bound up her bosom had it been necessary), and enlists in the Borogravian army in order to find and hopefully rescue her slightly simple older brother. Cue some well-aimed satire on masculinity, the stupidity of warfare and patriotism, and the perils of organised religion. Vintage Pratchett.

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Minervasbutler
Crossroads: A Novel | Jonathan Franzen
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Nobody writes about families quite like Franzen, and this first installment of a projected trilogy about pastor Russ and the rest of the Hildebrandt clan set in 1971 doesn't disappoint.

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Minervasbutler
All the Pretty Horses | Cormac McCarthy
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This tale of two young friends who set off to Mexico to be cowboys is less bleak and more approachable than some of McCarthy's other novels, though it's hardly a chucklefest. Beautifully written with some unforgettable moments.

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Minervasbutler
The Suspect | Michael Robotham
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Mehso-so

One of those Good Man Accused of Heinous Crime capers, which relied heavily on a series of coincidences and never really succeeded in making me care if or how the protagonist would clear his name. Bit daft, really.

BkClubCare Oh gosh, I heard-in-my-head your last sentence in an English accent. 😊 4mo
Minervasbutler @BkClubCare 🤣🤣🤣 4mo
59 likes2 comments
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Minervasbutler
Harlem Shuffle: A Novel | Colson Whitehead
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Elmore Leonardesque crime caper, set in early-1960s Harlem. Underneath the tale of heists and shakedowns lies a very contemporary story of political corruption and institutional racism. The storytelling is feverish and jittery, which makes for a more challenging read than one might expect.

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Minervasbutler
Utopia Avenue | David Mitchell
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Utopia Avenue is the name of Mitchell's fictitious rock band - a sort of Floyd/Cream/Traffic amalgam fronted by a Sandy Dennyish girl singer whose struggles in the cutthroat world of sixties London are recounted with loving attention to detail and a wealth of celebrity cameos. Clunky in parts but very readable.

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Minervasbutler
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Long, glacially slow-moving but somehow addictive account of the heroine's trials at the hands of her appalling family and Lovelace, the prototype for all dashing cads. Totally worth it if you have the time.

batsy I agree! 4mo
62 likes1 comment
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Minervasbutler
Darkmans | Nicola Barker
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Sometimes baffling, though largely readable and often very funny experimental novel concerning a motley cast of characters in modern-day Kent and their possible possession by a medieval court jester. Maybe not totally successful but by and large I enjoyed it.

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Minervasbutler
A Crown of Lights | Phil Rickman
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Mehso-so

Third in his Merrily Watkins series with the usual pagan frolickings on the Welsh border. I found it all got a bit convoluted plotwise, though it was enjoyable enough.

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Minervasbutler
Homeland Elegies | Ayad Akhtar
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This purports to be a novel, but reads like an episodic memoir, interspersed with reflections on what it's like to grow up a Muslim in the US, and the conflicting loyalties of his parents and himself. More interesting than that though, at least for this agnostic Brit, are the passages where Akhtar analyses the gigantic misstep American politics took in the eighties and which led directly to the sickness which spawned Trump.

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Minervasbutler
The Best of Me | David Sedaris
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Stellar best of collection, often laugh out loud funny and some moving passages describing his sister's suicide and his mother's late-life alcoholism.

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Minervasbutler
The Night Gardener | George P. Pelecanos
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Solid police procedural with some insightful stuff about the war on drugs, father-son relations and homophobia.

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Minervasbutler
A Few Green Leaves | Barbara Pym
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Pym's last novel, and we're in familiar territory with an English village as setting, and a typical Pym cast of spinsters and oddballs. The comedy is so gentle it's easy to miss, and nothing much happens more dramatic than a Bring and Buy sale or a bit of village gossip. Which, of course, is exactly what makes it so true to most of our lives.

LeahBergen Pym! ❤️❤️ 6mo
Ruthiella I love Barbara Pym too! 😍 6mo
BkClubCare This was on my Back to the Classics list and I was supposed to do a buddy read. I think we forgot, tho. Moving up my tbr… 4mo
47 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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Minervasbutler
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One of those historical novels that purports to be based on "found documents" - medical reports, newspaper transcripts and the like. The main section is a first-hand account of how Roderick, a young Highland crofter, came to murder three fellow-villagers in 1869. The description of the misery and squalor of the crofters' existence, and their near-servitude is brilliantly conveyed. Superb.

vivastory I really liked this one. If you haven't read it, the following is a bit similar 6mo
emmaturi I liked it too. His new book comes out in November I think. It sounds interesting. 6mo
Minervasbutler @vivastory thanks looks interesting 6mo
Minervasbutler @emmaturi thanks for the headsup! 6mo
59 likes1 stack add4 comments
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Minervasbutler
Billy Summers | Steven King
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King goes into Harlan Coben territory here with this tale of a hit man with a heart who takes on one last job. As terrifically readable as ever.

AmyG Awesome! I can‘t wait to read this even more. 6mo
63 likes4 stack adds1 comment
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Minervasbutler
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Slightly dated, but still funny, satire of life on Fleet Street in the mid-sixties. The two principal characters work in a sort of catch-all department of a gently decaying newspaper, the kind of office where the ancient third member can die in his desk without anyone noticing. It's the sort of novel where nothing much happens, but its melancholic tone perfectly captures that feeling we all get from time to time of the futility of existence.

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Minervasbutler
Black and Blue | Ian Rankin
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Several strands are expertly weaved together in this excellent Rebus- a seemingly motiveless killing of an oil worker, the (real life) sixties serial killer Bible John, and a modern imitator dubbed Johnny Bible by the press, and another long-dead case whose reopening by the press looks likely to cast doubts on the integrity of Rebus's old mentor and by extension on Rebus himself.

56 likes1 stack add
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Minervasbutler
The City We Became | N.K. Jemisin
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Mehso-so

The idea of cities having human avatars is a great concept, though I thought the actual book struggled to make the whole thing clear to the reader, or maybe I'm just deficient in whatever's necessary to make the imaginative leap. This is only the first in a projected trilogy, however, and I think I'll reserve judgement until the whole thing is published. For now, 3 stars.

Ruthiella I had trouble with this one too. I‘m not sure if I‘ll read on in the series. Maybe I‘ll wait for your review of the second book first! 🤪 6mo
48 likes1 comment
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Minervasbutler
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Mehso-so


Painstaking, song-by-song trawl through Dylan's back pages, including every song recorded up to Planet Waves plus outtakes and fragments. Lots of detail about when and where each song was written, recording sessions, and the afterlife of the song in performance. Invaluable for filling in the gaps in one's knowledge but it makes for less than riveting reading over 400-plus pages. His bitchy asides at other Dylanologists are always fun, mind you.

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Minervasbutler
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Mehso-so

Readable account of Britain in the Seventies, focusing largely on politics and industrial relations (which were pretty much the same thing back then). Factually accurate, fair handed, if not exactly riveting.

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Minervasbutler
Unknown Assailant | Patrick Hamilton
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Mehso-so

Slightly underwhelming conclusion to the Gorse Trilogy sees our hero up to his old tricks, defrauding a naive young barmaid and her repulsive father out of their life savings. One for completists only I fear.

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Minervasbutler
Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse | Patrick Hamilton
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Ralph Gorse is now 25, and still looking for ways to part fools from their money. His mark this time is the haplessly ridiculous widow Mrs Plumleigh-Bruce. We also get the equally absurd estate agent Mr Stimpson and the only slightly less ridiculous Major Parry, whose attempts at stirring war poetry are among the novel's funniest passages. The blackest of black humour.

LeahBergen This sounds great! I‘ve been meaning to read some Patrick Hamilton. 6mo
50 likes1 comment
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Minervasbutler
Mordew | ALEX. PHEBY
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I thought this was very much a book of two halves. The first part was excellent, as we are introduced to slum kid Nathan, his prostitute mother and sick and dying father. I enjoyed the quasi-Dickensian account of how Nathan joins the criminal gang of fellow urchins Gam and Prissy, and their exploits, but the last 200 pages or so got a bit mad, and also seemed a bit rushed. Given that this is only the first of three, it's hard to judge.

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Minervasbutler
A Goat's Song | Dermot Healy
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Two doomed, drink-soaked lovers foreground a poetic evocation of the sectarianism that lies like an open wound over Irish history. Slow, meandering, but rather wonderful.

Nute I like slow and meandering!🙂 6mo
49 likes1 comment
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Minervasbutler
Big Girl, Small Town | Michelle Gallen
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Mehso-so

On the plus side, Majella is a wonderfully well-drawn and believable character and the dialogue is pitch-perfect. For a short book, though, it does drag a bit, as the monotony of Majella's existence is shown through repeated descriptions of her getting up, going to the bathroom, and serving in the chip shop. And that's about it.

EKonrad Agreed! 7mo
56 likes1 comment
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Minervasbutler
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Crime story meets coming of age tale in the North Carolina swamps. Beautifully written and some unforgettable characters, notably "Marsh Girl" Kya.

emmaturi I liked this one too, look forward to see how the movie will be! 7mo
rachaich I declared this to be my book of 2020 🤗🤗🤩🤩🤩 7mo
74 likes2 comments
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Minervasbutler
Last Bus to Woodstock | Colin Dexter
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Morse arrives a fully-formed character here - irascible, a grammar nazi, a lover of Wagner and crosswords, a bit of a drinker and with an eye for the ladies. His views on rape are unlikely to endear him to the #metoo brigade, but are a pretty fair reflection of mid-seventies attitudes, certainly in the British police force. Highly recommended for fans of traditional whodunnits.

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Minervasbutler
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Delightful and frequently very funny. Our protagonist Macon is a pedant and a grammar nazi with a "system" for everything from choosing a seat at the cinema to unloading the groceries and he and his equally loony family should by rights be insufferable, and it's testimony to Tyler's skill and humanity that we identify with them even as we laugh and wince at their foibles.

Ruthiella I only “discovered” Anne Tyler a few years ago and really enjoy her work. I‘ve not read this one yet, but I have fond memories of the film. 7mo
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Minervasbutler
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Third in the Reacher series and the best one so far as we have an actual plot with a proper villain rather than just a series of descriptions of Reacher bopping baddies. Excellent.

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Minervasbutler
American Dirt | Jeanine Cummins
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Readable, if controversial, account of a middle-class Mexican woman attempting to reach El Norte with her small son after her family is wiped out by narcos. The characterisation is a touch thin and the setup a bit implausible but gripping nonetheless.

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Minervasbutler
Ripley Under Water | Patricia Highsmith
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Mehso-so

And so the Ripliad limps to its conclusion as Tom is spooked by a prying American who is intrigued by his less than pristine past. Fairly thin gruel, to be honest. Stop after the first three would be my advice.

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Minervasbutler
The Boy Who Followed Ripley | Patricia Highsmith
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Panpan

Sadly disappointing fourth installment of the Ripliad, which sees Tom and a young friend sampling Berlin's gay scene, amongst not much else. Threadbare plot, and pages and pages of travelogue. Hopefully Book 5 is better.

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Minervasbutler
Ripley's Game | Patricia Highsmith
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A perceived slight leads Tom to entangle hapless picture-framer Jonathan in a deadly plot to scare the Mafia out of Hamburg. Predictably, things get messy, and equally predictably Tom walks away with his life, and his reputation unsullied or no more sullied than it was before. Great fun.

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Minervasbutler
Ripley Under Ground | Patricia Highsmith
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A few years have passed since the events of The Talented Mr Ripley and Tom is now living high on the hog in France, and married to the beautiful Heloise ("So, what first attracted you to billionaire's daughter Heloise, Mr Ripley?" one would love to ask), and generally enjoying life. Then an art scam threatens to disturb Tom's peace. A worthy sequel.

Amoon Loved the film, nice to know there‘s a sequel. Will have to read the first book first . Thanks 7mo
Minervasbutler @Amoon there are actually 5 in all. Definitely read them in sequence 7mo
44 likes2 comments
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Minervasbutler
The Talented Mr. Ripley | Patricia Highsmith
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The Tom we meet here is not yet the coolly sophisticated sociopath of the later novels, and much of the fascination lies in seeing his self-confidence grow as he realises he is indeed much more talented than even he first suspected. The writing is superbly controlled - everything is seen from Tom's POV and we have no access to any information or thought processes that he doesn't have, which makes for a slightly claustrophobic reading experience.

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Minervasbutler
The Plot | Jean Hanff Korelitz
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The sardonic tone with which Korelitz skewers the literary world reminded me a bit of Kingsley Amis, and in addition to being a genuine page-turner there are real insights into the dual paranoia that haunts every creative artist, that of being plagiarised, and worse, that of being accused of plagiarism. Terrific.

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Minervasbutler
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So, we've got a missing child, an antisocial misfit with mummy issues, and a guilt-wrecked older sister. Oh, and a talking, Bible-reading, lesbian cat. When I got to the end I immediately went back to the beginning to see how many clues I'd missed first time around (spoiler alert, all of them). Brilliantly written and thought-provoking.

TrishB Loved this too 👍🏻 7mo
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Minervasbutler
The Instructions | Adam Levin
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1000+ page novel narrated by a ten-year-old Jewish kid who thinks he "might" be the Messiah? How could I resist? Gurion Maccabee has been expelled from his last three schools for fighting and is in addition a Talmudic scholar of almost superhuman brilliance and a charismatic leader of his chosen group of fellow pupils. Think "If..." with Gurion a ten-year-old Malcolm McDowell. Very funny if frequently exasperating.

53 likes2 stack adds
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Minervasbutler
SilverFin | Charles Higson
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We meet the future OO7 at the age of 13, orphaned, and at the book's opening a new arrival at Eton. The action never lets up and there's a lot of fun to be had in noticing the references to the future killing machine's preferences and foibles. We even get some (perfectly innocent) love interest care of a girl with the splendidly Flemingesque name of Wilder Lawless. Top hole.