Once again joining Laura and her Year In Books link up, which has introduced me to lots of excellent book recommendations, and lots of excellent bloggers who love to read. I strongly recommend you make yourself a nice cup of tea and go for a browse if you haven't visited before.
Last month I read 'Bellman and Black' by Diane Setterfield.
A young boy, William Bellman, throws a stone which kills a rook, almost by accident. His life ever after is monitored and (possibly) influenced by the clever, pitiless spirit of this ancient breed of bird.
The book is really a psychological study of William, whom we follow from childhood to death. He is an intelligent, highly motivated man, though a melancholy streak runs through him. After tragedy strikes his family, he turns the energy of grief into a business venture by building and running a huge department store, devoted to the accoutrements of mourning. Everything from full mourning garb to black edged correspondence cards is stocked, and he runs the business with an almost feverish energy.
He seems to have a business partner, the mysterious Mr Black, who exerts a significant and unnatural influence on William, though nobody else ever as much as catches a glimpse of him. William's life follows the same trajectory as the stone he aimed at the rook on that fateful day in his childhood, a steady rise, followed by an equally steady decline. As readers, we don't know if this is due to the malignant influence of Mr Black, the vengeful spirit of the rooks, or simply inherent weakness in William.
I greatly enjoyed this book, it was gripping, slightly creepy, and intriguing. I have already recommended it to several friends, and will be finding a place for it on my bookshelf, rather than dropping it discreetly into the bag destined for the charity shop.
This month I am going to read 'A Spool of Blue Thread' by Ann Tyler.
This is the story of Red and Abby Whitshank, and their family. As the blurb explains:
'Red and Abby are getting older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them and their beloved family home'. A lengthy review here summarises the plot and gives measured praise to Anne Tyler's writing skills.
I chose this book partly because I have read and enjoyed many of her novels in the past, and my non-virtual book group is reading this book for our next meeting in May, so it seemed a good idea to keep things simple for Spring and have the same book for both groups.