In the 52booksin52weeks challenge, last week I didn't post, I failed to finish my book Broken Harbour by Tana French. It was the book for the March for the book group I help to run, and I really couldn't get into it. I love crime, but gentle crime. This was part of a series of crime books set in Dublin but written in what I think of as an American style. Hard hitting, snappy. Very good but not to my taste. The Kathy Reich's, James Patterson style of writing is very popular, but not for me. I did my usual, and went to the last chapter, but still didn't catch my interest.
I had much greater hopes for this week's book. "Miss Lonelyhearts" by Nathaniel West. My favourite bookshop is Daunt Books in London. Life as an independent bookseller must be hard these days. When in London, we often have breakfast in the café across the road, VingtQuatre on the Fulham Road, and then wander over to the bookshop. A few years ago a friend had been ringing the praises of Nathaniel West and so when I saw a reprint, specially for Daunt Books of Miss Lonelyhearts, I thought that's the book for me. I didn't buy it that visit, but did the next. The pleasure is in the waiting I thought.
But, no. I was disappointed again. Nathaniel West was a friend and contemporary of Scott Fitzgerald and indeed died at the same time. I think I read somewhere they were in the same funeral parlour. Like, Fitzgerald, Nathaniel West writes about the shallowness of the 1920s American society. But, unlike Fitzgerald, I think the West books haven't travelled as well. The Great Gatsby deals with the excitement, the glamour of the time. Miss Lonelyhearts deals with the grittier side of life, but I did feel it was of its time. The book takes us through incidents in Miss Lonelyhearts' life, they are individual snippets of a life, yet interconnected. Again it didn't grab me. I finished it but wouldn't have been terribly disappointed if I hadn't.
I am hoping for greater things of next week's book. It was previously reviewed by my bookcrossing friend Liz who blogs at thewheelontheschool. Miss Carter's War by Sheila Hancock. In true bookcrossing tradition this is Liz's book. We do practise what we preach!
Today I made a visit to my second favourite bookshop, No Alibis in Belfast's Botanic Avenue. There I bought one of my cosy crimes. A new author to me, Mavis Doriel Hay, a reprint by the British Library of a 1930s novel set in Oxford, "Death on the Cherwell". Oxford, murder, 1930s, what's not to like? I'm not in the shop that often, but the owner always notices what books is bought, even if he is busy with another customer, and has something witty to say. He recommended another author, and offered to tell me more next time I am in. I can't remember who it is now, but he will remember!
linking up with 52 books in 52 weeks.