Winter Garden is a novel with many layers. Hannah uses a fanciful fairy tale as the link between a mother and her daughters—this is the key that will unlock the secrets that have been hiding in Nina and Meredith’s mother’s past for decades.
Without a doubt, Smith is a master storyteller. A novel with this jig-saw structure couldn’t possibly work without skill. To make such absurdities as fly-away castles and alien abductions so utterly believable is a testament to Smith’s talent. In less experienced hands this story would have been a farce.
Layered over and between each other, these passages of inner thoughts, often told in present tense, second person, lend kaleidoscopic views to the story, hopping back and forth through time and focusing on the unique angle seen by each character.
Pedersen revisits a character who has many of the same insecurities and dilemmas as the rest of us. Hallie is in that awkward, post-college stage—trying to cope with the challenges and responsibilities of adulthood as best she can, while admitting that she’s not ready for any of it!
Our Kind of Traitor is pretty good as a thriller, mind: the characterisation and suspense are terrific; le Carre can undoubtedly spin a good yarn. There’s even a Hitchcockian/John Buchan-style adventure vibe to it: Perry and Gail, two unlikely operatives, pitched against sinister forces.
Overall, the stories paint very clear pictures, sometimes reading more like prose poetry, sometimes like anecdotes, sometimes with surprising turns, sometimes just resonating in lush language.
At this point I really must comment on Weizenbaum’s prose: it’s excellent. So, too, is the parallel drawn between the frigid landscape and Aurora’s emotional white-out. Despite the fact that Weizenbaum must have spent hours agonising over every sentence the narrative is seamless. Almost every page has a gem.
A semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award content, Take the Monkeys and Run obviously pleased a few readers. While this is no literary masterpiece, it is essentially well-written with engaging, often larger that life characters, and most importantly is laugh out loud funny.
The book is rich with the New York City setting, from exhibitions at the Public Library and the Whitney museum, to the office blocks and cafes across Fifth Avenue, through the Upper West Side. Hubschman really knows these streets.
I can honestly say that I’ve never had the experience of actually feeling as though this was happening as I read, as if there was much more left to discover within this story if I kept reading and peeling away more layers. Her prose is elegant, her plot simple yet complicated, and the twists and turns within the story keep the reader highly engaged as the events unfold, with a very unexpected ending.