Sunday, July 17, 2022

Mid-summer Mini Reviews

The twin peaks, Longs Peak and Mt Meeker, on my Saturday morning walk earlier this month.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman - finally got around to reading this, knowing nothing about the story whatsoever, so was pretty blown away by how good it was. Honeyman did a masterful job in keeping Eleanor's pov on target. In a way, it reminded me of a time travel story in which a person from another time/space is plunked down in the modern world and is aghast at what passes for normal amongst the natives. I loved how Eleanor grew as a person as she traveled the road from trauma to health, and the ending was particularly satisfying.

A Sunlit Weapon, by Jacqueline Winspear - the latest Maisie Dobbs mystery, still in WWII, but this time focused on female pilots and the work they did during the war. I absolutely love this series and seeing the war through Maisie's eyes and experiences.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, by Maggie O'Farrell - I read O'Farrell's Hamnet last year and absolutely loved it, so when Joann of Gulfside Musing reviewed this earlier novel by O'Farrell, I promptly got a copy and dived right in. Like Eleanor Oliphant, the story is about a woman who is out of step with her world. In this case, Esme is the wild child of a conservative colonial family that returns to Scotland from India in the early 20th century (between the wars). Like Honeyman, O'Farrell does a masterful job of revealing the full scope and horror of Esme's story layer by layer over time as her last living relative, Iris, digs for the truth of who Esme is and what her family did to her. I cannot say that I loved the ending as I did with Eleanor--in fact, it shocked and disturbed me. It almost ruined the book for me, but I respect O'Farrell and trust that she told the story she wanted to tell.

Sharpe's Triumph, by Bernard Cornwell - number 2 chronologically in the series about Richard Sharpe, soldier of the British Empire, circa 1800. As with the first book, this was a terrific adventure story in which I learned about military strategy and the British subjugation of India. I picked up the next four books in the series--it's that good!

Hope everyone is having a good summer if you are in the northern hemisphere and a good winter if you are down under. It's been hot here in CO, but mercifully our afternoon thunderstorms are yielding much needed rain (though not nearly enough, as always), which cools everything off to bearable.


  1. Hi Jane, what a lovely photo. I hope you have been enjoying your summer. It seems everyone needs more rain. I loved Eleanor Oliphan (read it twice - once for book group). I also added The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox when I saw JoAnn's post. I tried the audio, readily available from library but didn't think I'd enjoy narration so I will try the print at some point. Enjoy the rest of your summer and stay well.

  2. It's really hot here in Utah, too. We've had a string of 100+ days that has been no fun. We did get a little rain last week which helped. I still need to read Eleanor Oliphant; it's been on my last for forever. I'm glad to know you enjoyed it so much. Stay cool! :D

  3. Yes, the ending of Esme Lennox really packs a punch... so shocking! I had to think about it for a while before deciding it worked for me. I loved Eleanor Oliphant on audio and am SO far behind with Maisie Dobbs.

  4. I have been meaning to read Elinor Oliphant for so very long, I can't believe I still haven't read it. Now putting it on the fast track!
    I'm up to #8 in Maisie Dobbs, so it will be a while before I reach the WWII, but I do love this series. I read about two books per year, which means I may never catch up.
    I feel so badly for all the people all over the world who have experienced days and weeks of scorching heat. So far we have been a wee bit cooler than normal, though this week we're really heating up.
    Will keep longing to hear more about what you're reading.

  5. Pretty photo of the peaks. I'm glad you told me about the Esme novel - I likely will read it too (I liked Hamnet). I have read the Eleanor Oliphant novel which is a bit darker than I'd thought it'd be - but a likable read. And I'm looking forward to the author's next book perhaps out in Sept. Have a great week.

  6. Beautiful photo, Jane! Glad you found four outstanding books, and thanks for for sharing them.

  7. I also enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant. I just started O'Farrell's Vanishing Act of Esme...and I kind of see where it's heading and I have taken a break...but I do want to get back to it.
    I've heard great things about Winspear's novels. I'd like to pick one up soon.
    Beautiful photo as well!

  8. I also really liked Elinor Oliphant, although found it so sad, and liked that the ending did not involved falling into each other's arms. I also enjoy Maisie Dobbs although began to find them all roughly the same. I went to hear her speak a couple years ago and she somewhat resented my comparison to Upstairs Downstairs.

    I have meant to read Sharpe and I do think they sound fun.