To put it plainly, I was blown away by this book. Inspired by the formation and rise of Fleetwood Mac, with a real 70’s retro rock flavour, this is the type of book where you mourn finishing it, and absolutely have to pick up another book by that same author (Taylor Jenkins Reid in this case). It had me conducting in-depth research into each Fleetwood Mac member, reading old news stories on them and their tours, and listening to all of their music again with a new appreciation.
What I love about a Taylor Jenkins Reid novel is that there is always a twist or three, and you never know when she will reveal them to you, you just know that they are coming. No spoilers here, but the twists in this storyline are wonderfully delivered and altogether will have you reading this book in every square inch of space in your day.
What I also enjoyed about this book is that it is written as an interview script, giving you the perspective of each band member. It means you get multiple viewpoints, which all match and clash at the same time to really drive home how the eventual fall-out of the band came to be (this is not a spoiler, given that we know that Fleetwood Mac split).
An incredible book I won’t forget. It’s a must-read if you haven’t already.
I didn’t know what to expect from Spinning Silver. The story is based on the children’s fairy tale, Rumpelstiltskin, part of the Brothers Grimm writings. The original folk tale is not very long, and so I was intrigued to see how Naomi Novik would fill out the plot into a 400-odd page book.
Novik’s imagination starts the book off in the small and humble village of Lithvas, sitting on the outskirts of a larger city, Visnia, and very close to a wintery road that is covered in snow no matter the season. It is said that the road brings brutal, mystical (if not magical) people, known as the Staryk, who search and plunder for gold.
The main protagonist is Miryem, the daughter of the village’s money-lender. Miryem’s father has too kind a heart and a dislike for confrontation, meaning his family live in poverty as he never calls in the villagers’ debts. Miryem begins to take over her father’s business, learning how to trade, and bringing wealth to her family. Their village resents this.
One day Miryem is visited by the king of the Staryk, who has heard of Miryem’s abilities to create gold out of goods and silver (through her business and trading). And so the story really begins (no spoilers here though).
Alongside Miryem’s story is that of two other women. One, Wanda, the daughter of the village’s drunk who goes to work for Miryem, and Irina, the daughter of the Duke of Visnia.
What I loved the most about this book are the three heroines. Each of their characters are strong and brave. There are no damsels in distress here. I also loved the way the book weaves between each of the women’s storylines, slowly building the overall picture. What I struggled with at times were the complexities of the plots and the depth of detail. However, overall I really enjoyed this book and Novik’s style of writing, and will be moving on to her other book, Uprooted, soon.
[If you haven’t read this book, there are some spoilers in this post!]
The Midnight Library has been such a joyful and warming read for me. If you are looking for a beautifully written story full of reassurances and hope then you should add this to your list.
For those who have not read The Midnight Library, the book is about a young woman, Nora, who is struggling and unhappy with her life. Her career, her finances, her relationships (in terms of friends, family and partners) are all not progressing as she had hoped and, ultimately, her life is lacking in love and fulfilment. Sadly, she decides that suicide is her only option left and so she enters The Midnight Library, a sort of halfway-house/’room’ filled with all of the possibilities that her life could have been, or evolved to be, together with The Book of Regrets (fairly self-explanatory). The story explores some of the main choices that Nora regrets throughout her life, taking Nora to those lives that she would be living had she chosen differently. Ultimately, Nora learns that her current life is actually the one that will make her most happy, with the resounding messages behind the book being that you have all the tools in place at any time to live the life you want, and that the grass is not always greener.
We live in an increasingly fast-paced, immediate, and accessible world. It is difficult not to compare your own life to the idyllic little Instagram squares of nomadic travellers island-hopping around Australasia, or the perfectly dressed women brunching on a Tuesday in Mayfair. On the other hand, we live in a world filled with so many opportunities and options that we are also overwhelmed with choice, and it can be hard to make decisions without thinking ‘what if’. This is why the book resonated so much with me. It is a gentle reminder that you and your life are enough, and what is important is having things in it that you love. It is also a message of perseverance and bravery, of not giving up when things feel too much and to embrace opportunities and challenges as they come rather than dwelling on regrets.
What also made me love the book so much is that it touches on so many complex topics in such a direct but gentle way that I think everyone can learn from. The catalyst of the story is suicide. In some of her lives, Nora’s brother struggles with alcoholism, and, in one life, Nora’s best friend dies suddenly and tragically. Some lives include deep family rifts, others leave Nora feeling like a failure. Nora suffers imposter syndrome in some of her lives, and depression and anxiety in others. Many of these topics are difficult to do justice to, given their complexity, and some can find them difficult to fully understand unless they struggle too. And yet, the way in which Haig delivers each of these topics is both educating and eye-opening for his reader.
The Midnight Library is an important book that leaves you feeling happy and lifted, all whilst discussing some very difficult issues. It reassures you that you are not alone in the struggles you face, and to embrace life no matter how scary it can be at times. It is well worth a read.