The Librarian’s Cellar Books 2020: Actress by Anne Enright

 

“Katherine O’Dell is an Irish theatre legend. As her daughter Norah retraces her mother’s celebrated career and bohemian life, she delves into long-kept secrets, both her mother’s and her own.”

The narrator, Norah is a writer. In order to make meaning of her own experiences (the ghost in my blood) she remembers her mother’s life and career. A tumultuous life that culminated in great sadness…

There is pain and grief for Norah, but there is also catharsis, and for the reader, so much more between the lines of Enright’s beautifully constructed sentences… of a generation of women gone, and the truth of their lives…

I loved this book.

The Librarian’s Cellar Books 2020: Sisters by Daisy Johnson

 

An eerie glimpse into the lives of haunted people, SISTERS is compelling and beautiful.

Born just ten months apart, July and September are as close as twins, never needing anyone but each other. When their single mother moves them to Settle House, a palpable unease slowly emerges, as do a series of unsettling revelations that will keep you reading until the very end.

Multi-faceted in theme and style, SISTERS creeps upon you and is completely absorbing.

 

Published July 2020. My thanks to Netgalley and Penguin for the opportunity to read this ARC.

 

The Librarian’s Cellar Books 2020: Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit has written prolifically on feminism, politics and art, and while not a traditionally written memoir, ‘Recollections of my Non-Existence’ is an interesting and relatable insight into her formative years, charting a journey of enlightenment, experiences and friendships that influenced her writing and activism.

More importantly, the book shines a light on the experience of Rebecca, and indeed, for all women, finding their space in the world – a world, that because of our gender, is filled with danger and threat – and how we have negotiated survival while navigating these perils. Has anything changed, really?

 

Published by Viking. Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for opportunity to read this ARC.

The Librarian’s Cellar Book of the Week: Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession

The core of ‘Leonard and Hungry Paul’ concerns the friendship between two men, both single, one recently bereaved, the other living with his parents as his sister’s upcoming wedding plans unfold. The supporting characters speak from the pages, they are so well developed, and the drama is so quiet and familiar, were it not for the beautiful writing from Hession, this novel might otherwise seem a little mundane in it’s depiction of everyday life. However, this novel is themed on human connection and kindness and is a gorgeous read. Clever, gentle prose concerning clever, gentle characters. No spoilers, but well into the second half, there is a wonderful conversation between Hungry Paul and his sister Grace that should be compulsive reading! It takes place in the bathroom as HP is cleaning his teeth, and his words spill out so gently, and with such wisdom and clarity, it took my breath away. Such a refreshing, unique novel. I loved it!

The Librarian’s Cellar Book of The Week: Inside Out by Demi Moore

I have always admired Demi Moore for her achievements, and was aware that her early life had not been easy. However, in ‘Inside Out’, Demi’s honesty is at times shocking and heart breaking. Behind the glamour, the fame and the money, she relates a very human story of vulnerability, strength, struggle, addiction, magnificent ups and devastating downs, but I never got a sense that her writing was coming from a place of bitterness. It is of course, her story, and therefore, her side of the story, and she is candid in her descriptions of her experiences of family relationships, as well as her much publicised marriages. I can only imagine that some parts, particularly those concerning her parents, were not easy to share. Many women, and men, of high achievement start from a rock-bottom place. Demi is a survivor, and a great talent. Fair play to her. A worthy read.

The Librarian’s Cellar Book of The Week: The Hiding Game by Louise Phillips

Heather Baxter is an attorney who by day, defends a young girl accused of killing an infant boy in her charge, and by night, is tormented as she tries to make sense of her mother’s unsolved murder, many years earlier. Through her journey of discovery, Heather uncovers several links between the two cases, often in terrible danger as she moves ever closer to a cruel and ruthless killer. A thoroughly enjoyable thriller combining exciting courtroom drama with unsettling secrets, mystery and intrigue!

The HIDING GAME is released on September 5th. Thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Books Ireland for the opportunity to read this ARC.

The Librarian’s Cellar Book of the Week: The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

There is something for everyone between the pages of this much quoted book. Passionate tributes to his favourite writers, some of them his very good friends. Entertaining essays, keynote speeches, personal experiences (a rather sobering piece from 2014: So Many Ways to Die in Syria) and throughout, praise for comic books, illustrators, artists and some lovely references to family. For readers of classic horror, there are tributes that ought to make you want to revisit the likes of Poe and Stoker. In his introduction to a 2004 edition of Poe’s Selected Poems and Tales, Gaiman suggests, ‘Read the poems aloud. Read the stories aloud. Feel the way the words work in your mouth, the way the syllables bounce and roll and drive and repeat, or almost repeat’. And on Stoker’s Dracula, in an introduction to an annotated 2008 version by Leslie S. Klinger, Gaiman writes that ‘First you read it casually, and then, once you’ve put it away, you might find yourself, almost against your will, wondering about the things in the crevices of the novel, things hinted at, things implied.’ On writing, take this insightful thought from his introduction to a 2008 edition of James Thurber’s The 13 Clocks, ‘When I was a young writer, I liked to imagine that I was paying someone for every word I wrote, rather than being paid for it; it was a fine way to discipline myself only to use the words I needed.’ A mini masterclass right there! The View from the Cheap Seats in a wonderful gem, filled with perceptive thoughts and inspiration. Don’t pass it by!

 

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Caroline E Farrell is a writer, filmmaker and blogger. She is the author of the novel, LADY BETH and has written and directed the short film FRAMED (2018). She has also written and co-produced the short films IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013).