Magog, Qc, Canada, August 2014
What a gorgeous place it was to celebrate my birthday!
Filling the Shelf – 154
Filling the Shelf simply is Mailbox Monday, but with a title that suits my blog! If you’re interested in joining the fun or seeing what other bloggers added to their shelves, click away! (but beware, visiting other mailboxes will probably add to your neverending wishlist!)
Happy Sunday readers!
Yesterday was my birthday and to celebrate surviving to this day, the Man got me a bunch of books this week (except for California, which was an almost unexpected galley I finally got accepted for, after thinking I had lost my chance!) I am excited in different ways for all of these. They’re all so different from each other, yet I can’t wait to read each of them!
In fact, Isla was a long time coming and, like many other readers, I couldn’t wait to put my hands on it! So it’s already been read and it was super cute, as expected!
What books did you recently add to your shelves?
To celebrate my birthday yesterday, the Man and I went on a one-day trip to Magog, a small town located about an hour and a half from home. The weather was gorgeous! We had a few sweets in a nice chocolaterie and I brought back home a pot of caramel fleur de sel.
We walked a bit around the Memphremagog lake, staying on Canadian land – though I’d love to get on the Vermont side of it one day, just out of curiosity!)Sadly, its monster Memphre never showed up.
Come on, Memphre; not even on my birthday? Pfffft.
About the Book :
Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden. But with a single phone call, everything changes.
Your mother…she’s not well, his father tells him. She’s been imagining things – terrible, terrible things. She’s had a psychotic breakdown, and been committed to a mental hospital.
Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: Everything that man has told you is a lie. I’m not mad… I need the police… Meet me at Heathrow.
Caught between his parents, and unsure of who to believe or trust, Daniel becomes his mother’s unwilling judge and jury as she tells him an urgent tale of secrets, of lies, of a crime and a conspiracy that implicates his own father.
My Thoughts :
I am surprised – and honestly, a little disappointed – that this book didn’t receive more attention. I didn’t know much going into it. I have never read the author’s better know series, though I had heard plenty of good things of the first book, Child 44. So I went in almost blind, and maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much.
What I felt the most as I read The Farm was uncertainty. I didn’t know whether to believe Daniel’s mother or not; her discourse is vague yet weirdly precise, and her proofs are less than convincing. I never knew what to think of her, yet her paranoia got to me too, enough to doubt Daniel’s father too. Like the main character, I had no idea what to believe.
The mystery itself is slowly, meticulously crafted. The clues are there but it’s subtle, and the predictable and unpredictable elements of the story support each other really well, making it a difficult guessing game for the reader. There’s sort of a dual narration, too, with Daniel leaving space for his mother’s story. That, in itself, was very interesting; dialogue with her was narrated through him, but her personal story was separated, sometimes in weird places. I’ve never seen it done quite like this, and it worked to great effect.
Much of the story is almost narrated in real time; we’re in the room with Daniel and his mom, listening to her story (I feel this would be a great book to try on audio, maybe), feeling annoyance at the interrupting calls, and there’s a definite sense of urgency compelling us to turn the pages. And yet, nothing really happens until very far into the novel. It’s a psychological thriller, no doubt about it!
I also appreciated how the secrecy aspect played into the story. The fact that the narrator has his own secret (he’s gay and living with his longtime boyfriend) only adds to our uncertainty. I kept wondering “is there something he isn’t telling us? what else do we not know?”
I think it’s safe to say I really enjoyed this one. I hope it finds a larger public, because I think it strays just enough from the regular psychological thriller to offer something different to most readers. The author also did a great job of capturing Sweden and the weird atmosphere their mystery novels have; and I, happily, am left wanting more!
About the Book :
Ten years ago, in a trial that transfixed America, Janie was convicted of murdering her mother. Now she’s been released on a technicality she’s determined to unravel the mystery of her mother’s last words, words that send her to a tiny town in the very back of beyond. But with the whole of America’s media on her tail, convinced she’s literally got away with murder, she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent.
She knows she really didn’t like her mother. Could she have killed her?
My Thoughts :
Going into this thriller, I wasn’t expecting what my first thoughts would be once I would be done with it, which were : this book was so much fun!
Compared to many of the thrillers I recently read, Dear Daughter felt extremely refreshing, not as much for its intrigue as for its narration. I think it is fair to say you will either like Janie Jenkins’ voice, or you won’t. From start to finish, she is extremely sarcastic and narcissistic and aware, and I don’t think you’re supposed to like her as a person; still she entertained me, which was all I cared for, really.
The story itself has a bit of a slow pace, which I didn’t really noticed thanks to Janie’s honest and oftentimes humoristic delivery. We slowly get introduced to the setting and the characters, while snippets of gossip magazines and blogs keep us on our toes in-between chapters; will they find Janie before she gets to the truth?
Along the story, I felt slightly stressed for Janie’s life as for a long while, we get very little clues to who’s the guilty party. There’s no obvious Bad Villain here, and I really liked that; it’s nice to read a thriller carefully crafted to keep you guessing!
I also think, with the current trends, that comparisons to Gone Girl will be unavoidable. Interestingly, though they have different writing styles and stories, this is the first of these where I read it and felt like the comparison was at least a little warranted. Maybe because it deals with a privileged girl and a twisted background; maybe it was the mostly unlikable and quirky characters; or maybe because it doesn’t end until it ends, and not so nicely wrapped up, either. I’m not sure what it was, really, that made me feel it related well to Gone Girl; but what I know for sure is that I truly enjoyed this novel.
Whatever else Elizabeth Little writes in the future, I’ll be curious to read too. Hopefully this is a feat she can repeat, because Dear Daughter hooked me right in!
Dear Daughter is available now! Thanks to Penguin for generously providing a digital copy of this book for review!