For our next instalment of our ‘Holiday reading’ series, we are considering two books read by possibly the two most avid readers I know: Ms Wylie (Drama) and Mr Harrison (English). They have each enjoyed reading very different novels during the holidays; Ms Wylie’s recommendation being A little life by Hanya Yanagihara and Mr Harrison’s, A pocketful of crows by Joanne Harris.
Ms Wylie describes A little life as “one of the best books I have ever read” and this is echoed in reviews of the book in newspapers and book review sites such as Goodreads… Such reviews have provoked much weighty discussion and forthright views! Here’s a synopsis:
“When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome – but that will define his life forever.” (Picador, accessed 31 January 2018.)
Of his choice, Mr Harrison says:
“One of my favourite books over the Christmas holidays was A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne Harris – an enchanting tale which structurally follows the seasons of the timeless English countryside. The central figure is a ‘wild girl’, one of ‘the travelling folk’, who falls in love with a man of ‘our world’. It is the most graceful evocation of woodland folklore entwined with the agony of heartbreak. The composition is a dark fairy tale based loosely on one of the legendary ‘Child Ballads’. The hypnotising illustrations by Bonnie Helen Hawkins of hares, foxes and stags are as delightful as the prose. If you are someone who finds beauty in nature, wonder in storytelling and mystery in white magic, I recommend this. Best enjoyed by the fireside with a hearty chalice of mulled wine and guitar melodies dreamily serenading you… “
Two intriguing novels, vastly different from each other, but equally arresting – which one to choose first? Possibly A little life, with A pocketful of crows as a respite to follow? Do tell us what you think.