contemporary fiction

‘Silver Rain’ by @JanRuthAuthor #FridayReads #BookReview

silver rain

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

Al is the black sheep of his family, Kate, the good shepherd of hers. Can black and white become silver, or just a dark and dangerous grey?
Alastair Black has revealed a secret to his wife in a last ditch attempt to save his marriage. A return to his childhood family home at Chathill Farm is his only respite, although he is far from welcomed back by brother George.
Kate, recently widowed and increasingly put upon by daughter, sister and mother, feels her life is over at fifty. Until she meets Alastair. He’s everything she isn’t, but he’s a troubled soul, a sad clown of a man with a shady past. When his famous mother leaves an unexpected inheritance, Kate is caught up in the unravelling of his life as Al comes to terms with who he really is.
Is Alastair Black her true soulmate, or should Sleeping Beauty lie?

I’ve read a few of Jan Ruth’s books before and particularly enjoyed the ‘Wild Water’ series. The author has a real talent for painting beautiful settings, and her characters are so appealing because they are ordinary – although certainly not boring! These are proper grown-ups – even if they don’t always behave that way – and make a really refreshing change.

I liked Kate immensely – she’s very well-written and very believable. Her relationship with her mother was particularly well done; that sense of guilt at the sheer exasperation of having to deal with petty little problems, mixed with real love, is something most women of a certain age will relate to. Alastair is great too – one thing that Jan Ruth does particularly well is writing male characters. The men in her books aren’t merely romantic distractions, and they aren’t heroes either. They’re real – flawed, funny, and authentic.

The author knows her setting so well and it is beautifully and effortlessly portrayed here. There’s a real sense of time and place. And the dynamics between characters, the conflicts and misunderstandings draw you right in – these are characters you really care about.

That said, I found it very hard to like Fran; she seemed very selfish and unreasonable. And I felt that there could have been more sympathy for Jo’s situation – I did feel that her opinions and views were rather dismissed and glossed over.

But aside from that, this is a really well-written and enjoyable read.

Recommended.

4 stars

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‘Dear Thief’ by Samantha Harvey #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

thief

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

In the middle of a winter’s night, a woman wraps herself in a blanket, picks up a pen and starts writing to an estranged friend. In answer to a question you asked a long time ago, she writes, and so begins a letter that calls up a shared past both women have preferred to forget. 

Without knowing if her friend, Butterfly, is even alive or dead, she writes night after night – a letter of friendship that turns into something more revealing and recriminating. By turns a belated outlet of rage, an act of self-defence, and an offering of forgiveness, the letter revisits a betrayal that happened a decade and a half before, and dissects what is left of a friendship caught between the forces of hatred and love.

This book was an absolute joy to read. The quiet but stunningly beautiful narrative tells the story of a woman who has been betrayed, who is now addressing that betrayal, confronting, if only in words, in a letter, the friend who let her down.

But there isn’t bitterness, or spite, and the novel is much more than the premise suggests. Through the letter, the narrator weaves two tales – the story of her own past and its links to her friend, known as Butterfly, and also the present, that she imagines for Butterfly, a woman she hasn’t seen for years. She doesn’t know where she is, or what she is doing, or even if she is still alive, so she creates a life, and in doing so exacts something like revenge.

The writing seems effortless, flowing and lyrical at times. The characterisation is spot on- the narrator is middle-aged, separated from her husband, has a difficult job, and she has all the insecurities and the regrets that come with that. She is hard on herself at times, and too easily forgiving of herself at others. Her pain, her sense of betrayal, but also her love are vividly shown through her words.

A powerful book from an incredibly talented writer.

5 stars