So last time I spoke to you, I had just recovered from a book slump – and the book that really got me out of it was Where’d You Go, Bernadette? By Maria Semple. My kindle had been nagging me to read this book for quite a while, but something about the cover – which seemed too light – and the blurb – which seemed too heavy – put me off. Then a friend said that it is very funny – especially if you are at the stage of life where you have to deal with school-mom politics. So I read it.
It strangely is both light AND heavy. I don’t know why this surprises me, because I think my own writing actually has this “problem”, and people are often put off by the blurb which fails to mention the humour. But Bernadette is a very funny story about a talented woman in hiding from real life, who gets into conflicts with her neighbours and the moms at her daughter’s school. I found it easy to read but also full of issues that made me think a bit. Big issues – like not judging people too quickly, and what is actually involved in a fulfilled life, and whether I will ever be lucky enough to go to the Antarctica.
So on that one – I give a huge thumbs up.
After breaking a reading slump, there is always a fear that the next book might push you back. So I tentatively started “The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer. This – for me – delivered most of the things I need from a book. It’s the right length – meaty without being off-putting. It is a bit coming of age, which I like, but not stuck in adolescent issues. It has gripping, interesting characters and it has heavy and light moments. It reminded me a bit of Donna Tartt’s Secret History (an all time favourite), although not quite as extreme or dark. Secret History Lite, perhaps?
I think it is one of the books people will be talking about for a long time, and, for me at least, it has put Meg Wolitzer on the “must buy” map.