Friday, February 10, 2017

The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer




Paperback: 375 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Thriller Mystery
Publisher: Faber and Faber 2015
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: I dream about Carmel often.
Review Quote:  Hamer’s novel aims to be more than a thriller, and the real heart of the book is not its suspense, but its explorations of grief and how we weather it. The Guardian
Literary Awards: Shortlisted for The Costa First Novel Prize, the British Book Industry Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year, the John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger and the Wales Book of the Year
My Opinion: This title was read for one of my book groups. The standard of the writing and the fact I wanted to know the outcome made this a readable story but not one that particularly enthralled me. Maybe my expectations were raised by the fact that other members of my book group were particularly excited to be reading this novel. Also the author is coming to Tywyn in March to speak at a Literary Dinner. It will certainly be interesting to hear her speak and I am sure people will have some interesting questions for her.

The way the story is told from both the point of view of both protagonists is gripping and it was certainly not what I expected. Beth is the devastated mother desperately trying to rebuild her life after the abduction of her daughter and the story alternates between her telling of her experiences and those of Carmel, as a man claiming to be her grandfather whisks her away to a new and very strange life!  There are certainly many unexplained things in this world but it is with Carmel's so called gift which I found difficulty coping with, making the story less plausible for me. Although despite my nagging doubts it was Carmel's sections of the novel that held my interest far more.

The final scenes of the novel I found something of an anti-climax because they were dealt with in such an abrupt manner, I  personally needed much more to be made of it and was left feeling disappointed.  This though should not put you off reading as if you are looking for something different from the normal abduction tale then this may well be for you.




Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

She is the missing girl. But she doesn't know she's lost.

Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children's festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift...

While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is - and who she might become.



Video Trailer for 'The Girl In The Red Coat ' Courtesy of YouTube


Author Kate Hamer appears at Tonyrefail Arts Festival 2015 to discuss her debut novel 'The Girl in the Red Coat'. [Amateur Footage] This is a long video at 36 minutes but if you have the time, it is well worth a listen.


Author Profile

Kate Hamer's first novel 'The Girl in the Red Coat' (Faber & Faber, 2015) was shortlisted for The Costa First Novel Prize, the British Book Industry Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year, the John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger and the Wales Book of the Year. It was a Sunday Times bestseller and has been translated into 16 different languages. Kate won the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize and she has had short stories published in anthologies such 'A Fiction Map of Wales', 'New Welsh Short Stories' and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She's written articles and reviews for The Independent, The Mail on Sunday and The New York Times. Kate grew up in the West country and rural Pembrokeshire and now lives with her husband in Cardiff. Her second novel, to be published by Faber & Faber in February 2017, is 'The Doll Funeral'.


Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.


Amazon Author Page      Goodreads Author Profile       YouTube Video    

   Facebook - Literature and Lasagne           Kate Hamer - Author's Official Website.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan




Paperback: 448 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Literary Fiction, War
Publisher: Vintage 2015
Source: Tywyn Bookclub Choice
First Sentence: Why at the beginning of things is there always light?
Favourite Quote: “In trying to escape the fatality of memory, he discovered with an immense sadness that pursuing the past inevitably only leads to greater loss.”
Review Quote: "Flanagan can stop a reader's breath." (Los Angeles Times)
Setting:Tasmania, Burma, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, Changi (Singapore), Sydney (Australia)
Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize (2014)The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Nominee for Shortlist (2015)Miles Franklin Literary Award Nominee (2014)Prime Minister's Literary Awards for Fiction (2014)Australian Independent Booksellers Indie Book Award for Book of the Year (2014) etc.
My Opinion: This is not a choice I would have made myself as the story is so deeply entrenched in the horrors of war, not a genre that appeals to me. However I soon discovered that there is so much more to this well deserved winner of the Man Booker Prize, which the author wrote in tribute to his father, who actually survived the horrors of working on the Thailand to Burma Railway. Richard Flanagan is quoted as saying 'that more people died building this railway than words in my novel'
At the centre of the novel is the intense and horrific story of the time the protagonist Dorrigo Evans spent in the Japanese POW camp working on the so called Death Railway. To be honest I found parts of the novel very difficult reading as it was very descriptive and the brutality was very disturbing. It took perseverance but as the intertwined love story, that motivated Dorrigo to survive balances the novel I kept going. The narrative is not presented chronologically which helped because just as I was wondering how much more I could take of the sickening descriptions, the story would move to another time and place, a much needed break. In conclusion well worth reading if you can cope with the disturbing aspects, will I think appeal to fans of Sebastian Faulks.  



Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

What would you do if you saw the love of your life, whom you thought dead for the last quarter of a century, walking towards you?

Richard Flanagan's story — of Dorrigo Evans, an Australian doctor haunted by a love affair with his uncle's wife — journeys from the caves of Tasmanian trappers in the early twentieth century to a crumbling pre-war beachside hotel, from a Thai jungle prison to a Japanese snow festival, from the Changi gallows to a chance meeting of lovers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.


Taking its title from 17th-century haiku poet Basho's travel journal, The Narrow Road To The Deep North is about the impossibility of love. At its heart is one day in a Japanese slave labour camp in August 1943. As the day builds to its horrific climax, Dorrigo Evans battles and fails in his quest to save the lives of his fellow POWs, a man is killed for no reason, and a love story unfolds..


Video Trailer for 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' Courtesy of YouTube



Courtesy of BBC Newsnight.

Published on 14 Oct 2014
Live after the Man Booker 2014 awards ceremony Kirsty Wark talks to the winner, Australian Richard Flanagan who has scooped the £50,000 prize for his wartime novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

Author Profile



Richard Flanagan was born in Longford, on the west coast of Tasmania, Australia on January 1st 1961.
His novels Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould’s Book of Fish, The Unknown Terrorist, Wanting and The Narrow Road to the Deep North have received numerous honours and are published in 42 countries. He won the Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North in 2014.
Two of his novels are set  where he lived in the township of Rosebery as a child. Death of a River Guide relates to the Franklin River, Gould's Book of Fish to the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station, and The Sound of One Hand Clapping to the Hydro settlements in the Central Highlands of Tasmania.
An author, historian and film director, he has also been  president of the Tasmania University Union and a Rhodes Scholar. Each of his novels has attracted major praise. His first, Death of a River Guide (1994), was short-listed for the Miles Franklin Award, as were his next two, The Sound of One Hand Clapping (1997) and Gould's Book of Fish (2001). His earlier, non-fiction titles include books about the Gordon River, student issues, and the story of conman John Friedrich.


Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.


Amazon Author Page   YouTube Video   Goodreads Author Profile   Wikipedia - Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan - Author Official Website