I rarely have time to read anything other than emails these days, which makes me useless at contributing to Book Club (last time I was tasked with a feature on here I’m pretty sure I ended up talking about lipsticks and shoes).

Last week I took some annual leave and I was determined to lose myself in several thousand pages of fiction. I decided to go for brand new releases and was admittedly a bit slap dash in my decision making – it was a case of a mix of genres and what I perceived to be a fairly interesting summary/plot.

Tin Man – Sarah Winman

I’ll begin with my favourite. I had heard of “When God Was A Rabbit” by the same author and have always meant to read it. I didn’t realise that “A Year Of Marvellous Ways” was actually by the same author – which I have read and which I thoroughly enjoyed. A kind of magical fable is you will.

Tin Man is entirely different but absolutely beautiful. A tale of love, longing and loss, the story is poignant and heartfelt. Taking you though an experience of childhood in the 1950’s through to the AIDS crisis in the late 80’s/90’s, you will be routing for the main characters throughout the heartbreak and the tiny glimmers of hope and desire. And that’s what is for me personally, the core success of any book, that I remember the characters long after I’ve reached the end.

The Room Upstairs – By Kate Murray-Browne

This is apparently a “modern” ghost story, not usually my cup of tea at all, but being in a similar life stage to the main character Ellie, and the fact the story essentially revolves around property (and a property that needed completely renovating – I can relate to that!) I thought it would prove interesting. I didn’t find the story particularly chilling as such, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you are a regular reader of horror. The plot revolves more around relationships, and how we are the choices we make – and that actually, changing your current situation isn’t always that straight forward. Neither can you guarantee the grass is always greener.

Some aspects to the book were unquestionably sinister, there is clearly something not quite right with “ The Room Upstairs” and I thought this added a intriguing dimension to a contemporary tale of marriage, maxing yourself to the hilt to be able to afford your “dream” home and navigating the journey towards bringing up a young family.

Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell

I have read nearly all of Lisa Jewell’s books, I find them easy reading but with characters that you grow to actually care about. Her books have moved on from the romance/flatmate type entertainment of the nineties and noughties (Vince & Joy! An all time favourite!) to more of a thriller genre.

Then She Was Gone is one of those books that was gripping and dark and really quite good, but I’m not sure I’m that happy about the fact I’ve read it. I will explain. The story centres around a missing 15 year old girl and a mother’s plight to find out what really happened to her long lost daughter. I have a daughter, and I know all sorts of terrible things happen in the world we live in and that I can’t pretend they don’t, but I can’t help feel that it was my own fault for not considering the consequences before I dived in and subsequently couldn’t put it down.

As expected, you really really care about the protagonists and despise the villain/s. Lisa Jewell is excellent at that.

I just wanted everything to be ok in the end.

There were aspects that were admittedly a little bit far fetched and bizarre, but actually, I’m not sure anything surprises me anymore. All you need to do is switch on the News to hear about outlandish kidnapping plots and strange disappearances.

Without wanting to sound like some crappy cliche, once I had finished this book I wanted to hold Mabel that little bit tighter. I am still thinking about it as I type.

I should probably make myself a gin and tonic and get over it. Or at least move onto a different book.

Have you read any of the titles mentioned above? Do leave some recommendations/and or a review of great reads in the comments section below.

  • Then She was Gone
  • The Upstairs Room
  • The Tin Man