September 23, 2020

You should never judge a book by it’s cover, but your expectations going into this one might be very different depending on whether you’ve seen the UK or US one. 

The British version features a woman’s face, and this novel is ostensibly about a woman. Two late-middle-aged men pub crawl around Dublin as one tells the other the story of how he’s left his wife for a girl they both loved-at-first-sight in their youths. In reality, the love that actually comes through is a love for Irish speech, and pubs, and the men for each other. 

The American cover is a picture of a pint, and is styled to look like a continuation of Roddy Doyle’s Two Pints series, which is probably a better angle to come from. Love is also written almost entirely in  — simply brilliant — dialogue. 

It’s astute, and sensitive and funny, but in all honestly also frustrating and a little boring. As one character constantly...

August 13, 2020

The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a readable reminder of the refugee lives being lived all around us, although it’s perhaps not as powerful as it might have been.

The book gently tells the story of Nuri Ibrahim and his wife Afra as they journey from Syria to the UK, focussing on the psychological as well as physical trauma they are subject to.

I love the insights into life at the camps along the way, as well as the brief, tragic glimpses of how beautiful pre-war Syria must have been. I also appreciate that it neither idolises its protagonist nor goes too heavy on fictional hardships. That said, it has a dreamy, disconnected feel that meant I drifted through the narrative without any of it really affecting me. 

Definitely for those who want to peep through their fingers at the refugee crisis, rather than look at it full on. But, perhaps, that is all that we need to nudge us into engaging with the r...

June 28, 2020

The author portrays perfectly the devastating effect of a child who grows up with an alcoholic mother who puts keeping up with appearances above love.

The author takes a unique approach in her writing on the universal experience of growing up and coming into adulthood - this book I loved.

June 21, 2020

I don't mean to keep reading books by doctors, honestly but one leads to another.

This one ends abruptly as the author is writing it as he battles terminal cancer.

I was in floods of tears the entire epilogue which was written by his wife after his death.

A moving account of how to accept your fate and negotiate the time you have left on the earth.

June 17, 2020

I don’t read much crime fiction, so I may be mistaken, but I don’t think this refreshing French award-winner follows the typical pattern.

Patience Portefeux is a 53 yr-old police translator tasked with deciphering the phone messages of north African drug gangs. But her elderly mum is in a home. It’s expensive. And she realises the information she gleans from the wire taps could help her set up her own lucrative drug trade.

I found The Godmother off-putting to start with, as the tone is a bit arrogant, brusque and pretentious, but as I got to know the main character I realised that she was the pretentious one, and the narrative was just wonderfully immersed in this unusual character. As soon as that clicked, the tone felt fresh and interesting, as did the main character’s moral outlook and the impact of her personal history.

A palate-cleansing read and a gripping crime narrative.

June 14, 2020

Of course I wanted to read more by the author of Being Mortal. This book I think I enjoyed even more as it made me consider aspects of medicine that I hadn't before. Enlightening and again fascinating case studies.

June 7, 2020

2007 Man Booker Prize winner.

Another Irish novel, this one is about a woman coming to terms with the death of her brother.

Difficult subject matter but the author catches all the nuances and complexities of families and bereavement.

May 31, 2020

Recommended by a colleague.

A thought provoking and significant book about the importance of not shying from talking about death and what matters to us as the end comes near.

Beautifully written.

May 24, 2020

A subject I know very well and yet this book was jam packed with new things to consider. Such as, studies show damp conditions and overcrowding leads to less allergies in children.

The biggest take away is we are all different, one diet doesn't fit all but variety is the spice of life (as long as it is unprocessed!).

And how funny that you lose doctor in your title if you become a professor (that was not in the book!).

May 17, 2020

Interesting and informative, does what it says on the tin.

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