Sunday 13 March 2022

Lily King

Lily King's short story collection FIve Tuesday's in Winter was the highlight of my recent reading pile.  I loved her 2015 novel Euphoria and her more recent novel Writers & Lovers.  The nice thing about short stories is that you can read a whole story in the morning and get a feeling of accomplishment for the rest of the day!

The best in this collection I think is When in the Dordogne.  A lonely rich boy, traumatised by his father's suicide attempt, finds solace in the company of two sophomore boys who housesit him for the summer while his parents visit the Dordogne.  Episodes of midnight swimming in the garden pool, eating whatever they feel like from the freezer and a tennis match which proves to be a life lesson make this an unforgettable summer.  The kindness and easy camaraderie of the two older boys who help the 15 year old get his first girlfriend makes this an uplifting story which I think is a theme for the whole collection.

If you've ever had an adolescent daughter who rolls her eyes at everything you say you'll be wanting to read North Sea and I also liked Timeline.  Lily King gets an amusing reference to the Talking Heads in (which she also did in Writers and Lovers!)

I was a bit disappointed with Janice Hallett's The Twyford Code. Shame because I loved her earlier novel The Appeal.  Not quite sure why I didn't like it but I got bored with the fish symbol appearing everywhere and I'm not that interested in acrostics.  I also didn't think she captured the working class voice of the central character whereas in The Appeal she brilliantly portrayed  an insular middle class community.

Lastly In a Good Light by Clare Chambers is a reread for me.  Along with another of her earlier novels Learning to Swim she perfectly captures what it is like to grow up in England in the 1970s and 80s.  One of my favourite writers.