The Best & Worst of the Books I Read in 2015
In this blog, I thought I'd share my thoughts about the best and worst fiction I've come across in 2015. I have also included my most surprising book of the year and the one I was most anticipating.
My Favourite Book of 2015
The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
It’s a brilliant book – and far, far better than its American rival, Gone Girl in which the two main characters are over-shadowed by their egos and the writer robs us of a satisfactory ending in order to set up the sequel.
I don’t normally like present tense narration but Paula Hawkins is an expert in its use and skilfully draws you into the conflicted minds of her three female narrators. She takes the reader backwards and forwards through time and creates a palpable sense of tension as the narrations start to coincide and become chronological.
I liked the crazy, screwed-up characters in The Girl on the Train – especially Rachel – and the book came to a wonderful Karmic ending when the villain got it in the neck – literally.
Biggest Literary Disappointment of 2015
And The Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini
And the Mountains Echoed is a disjointed series of short stories which introduce dozens of characters loosely connected to a house in Kabul over a period of sixty years. You need to take notes in order to keep track of who's who and the character’s random connections with each other. I abandoned the novel twice in frustration and confusion and only finished it because I thought that there would be an amazing ending where everything would suddenly become clear.
There wasn’t and it didn’t.
Most Anticipated Book of 2015
Go Set a Watchman - Harper Lee
I adored parts of Go Set a Watchman and laughed out loud on my sunbed in Cyprus when I read about the further adventures of Jem and Scout. This was Harper Lee at her best. But the over-riding emotion I had when I’d finished the novel was sympathy for the author. This book left me with mixed feelings of disappointment and pleasure. I have no idea, or not, if Lee was pressurised into releasing this novel against her better judgement but part of me wishes she hadn’t.
And part of me is glad that she did.
Biggest Literary Surprise of 2015
Ramblin' Rose: The Boatwoman's Story
- Sheila Stewart
Rose’s narrative is a fascinating, unsentimental account of the life (and death) of the men and women who worked ours canals during the first fifty years of the nineteenth century. It vividly recreates their culture, traditions, hardships and tragedies. But it also reveals the incredible love, pride and strong-bond between this close-knit, free-floating community who were isolated from land-locked Britain for generations.