In this funny sub-season - no longer winter, not quite yet spring - I always go into a kind of sub-hibernation, a sort of restless lethargy. This year, to deal with this, between bursts of activity like pruning roses and clearing out the studio, I've been reading books by the cubic yard. So here are some one-liners about a few recent ones:
The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak: well written if slightly contrived tale of survival in Nazi Germany, with lots of sardonic humour from the narrator, Death.
The Polish Officer, Alan Furst: I discovered Furst via an earlier novel, The Foreign Correspondent. He does tense WW2 thrillers, with strong characters and devious plotlines, sort of Le Carre territory. Must read more.
Friday Nights, Joanna Trollope: not her best. I'm usually a fan, she can do good characters and sparkly dialogue, but in this case too many people (I kept having to look back - who are you again?) and none of them very interesting.
Flow My Tears The Policeman Said, Philip K Dick: he always challenges you at the borders between hallucination and reality; in this case, a proper plot would have helped.
When Will There Be Good News, Kate Atkinson: several convoluted parallel mysteries, a burnt-out ex-cop with emotional baggage, three or four very different highly charged female characters, some outrageous plot coincidences - what's not to love?
The Road Home, Rose Tremain: nothing to say except READ IT!
His Illegal Self, Peter Carey: well, this is a weird one. From page one, I had no clear idea what was going on; and devoured it at a single sitting. Somewhere between Cormac McCarthy and Steinbeck, with flashes of Russell Hoban?
Q & A, Vikas Swarup: to be quite honest and with the best will in the world - just see the film.