I've been very remiss with my lack of book-talk on here... tsk tsk. To redress this I'm going to try and link up with Sheila from Book Journey every week.
Looking at my bookcases at the weekend I was vexed at how many of the books on them I've still to read, so determined to rectify this I grabbed a slim volume and found myself with Emile Zola's Therese Raquin. I really should have known better after having such a bad experience with Germinal... If ever there was an antidote to the feel-good factor from the Olympics that seems to be sweeping this island then this book is it. (I'm glad it only took a couple of days to read as I may have had to start drinking alcohol in large amounts to cope with any more - as it was I had to recuperate with some chocolate). It's not that I don't enjoy downbeat literature, Hamlet is my favourite play for goodness sake! Plus I love Jude the Obscure, and that's not exactly a comedy, but it is beautiful and moving. Zola's work is just, well, grim. To save you from reading this book and thus probably needing counselling, the short version is that it's about adultery and murder followed by the psychological and emotional disintegration of the two people involved.
Zola was much taken with the idea of Naturalism and tries to deal with the characters as subjects (or 'organisms' as he often refers to them) in a scientific experiment. All well and good, but the problem with this is it's very hard to empathise with them. I for one let out a sigh of relief when it had finished and I was able to be rid of the self-obsessed unpleasant pair. I still have one Zola left on the shelf and am undecided whether to attempt it or give it to a charity shop - obviously a charity shop where only people I don't like buy books.
On a more up-beat note I've also started Kate Atkinson's murder mystery One Good Turn. This is the fourth book of Atkinson's that I've read and I love the way she writes - she's funny, excellent at characterisation and plotting, and her books are both intelligent and entertaining. Start with Case Histories to get to know her protagonist Jackson Brodie (ex-army, ex-policeman, ex-husband), then marvel at how she weaves her various characters, plots and subplots together in When Will There be Good News?, and Started Early, Took My Dog. Sheer brilliance!
Next from the bookshelves will be a Dickens... not sure which one yet...