One more off the list

Just completed another tome in my ever-growing collection – A God in Ruins (Black Swan) – another of Kate Atkinson’s novels. It was a Costa Novel Award winner for 2015. This I enjoyed much more that her Life After Life. It traces the life of one of her characters from her previous book but this time I felt the narrative rolled out much better – it’s even a novel I’d read again if I ever have the time. So many of the people she portrays are ones I certainly recognise, ones that I’ve met over the years. Worth saying that the novel stands on its own, so if you’ve not read Life After Life it won’t matter.

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Costa Book Winner

Perhaps a little on the late side, but I’m delighted to see the late poet and author Helen Dunmore won the 2017 Costa Book of the Year.

Inside the Wave, Dunmore’s tenth collection, explores the borderline between the living and the dead – the underworld and the living world – and includes her final poem, ‘Hold out your arms’, written shortly before her death in June 2017, aged 64.  The award, a cheque for £30,000, was accepted by her son Patrick Charnley from Dominic Paul, managing director of Costa.

Wendy Holden, chair of the final judges, said: “We all felt this is a modern classic; a fantastic collection, life affirming and uplifting. The poems carry powerful messages that speak to all of us.”

A final judging panel included contributing editor to British Vogue, Laura Bailey; author and presenter, Fern Britton; actor Art Malik; BBC presenter and journalist Sophie Raworth; writers Piers Torday, Freya North and Simon Garfield; and poet Moniza Alvi.

Poetry has a strong record in the Costa Book Awards. Inside the Wave (Bloodaxe Books), is the eighth collection of poetry to take the overall prize. Helen Dunmore is the second writer to take the overall prize posthumously in the Award’s 46-year history. Ted Hughes won in 1998 for Birthday Letters.

Luan Goldie wins Short Story Award

Primary school teacher and former business journalist, Luan Goldie from Newham in East London, won the public vote and £3,500 for her story, Two Steak Bakes and Two Chelsea Buns.

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Recent reads to clear the backlog

Having now amalgamated bags of books I wanted to read with the shelf in my study entitled READ THIS LOT NEXT, I’m rather overwhelmed by just how much reading I’ve got to get through. There’s no official deadline only time but, despite an attempt to read every day for at least an hour, it’s going to take eons. However, over the last couple of months I’ve managed to get through three books:

J S Monroe Find Me – Before They Do (Head of Zeus). A new thriller and a quite engaging one ( if there’s such a thing as a thriller that isn’t engaging) which was given to me at the London Book Fair 2017, so I’m not too far behind on that one. The author, new to me, seems to have adopted the now familiar dotting back and forth between last year, next year, this year and yesteryear. Star rating 3.

Ian Rankin Rather Be the Devil (Orion). Rankin is, in my view, always a good read despite getting bogged down in police procedure (but then that’s his forte). It’s only my third Rankin book but even though his chief protagonist (and antagonist according to his colleagues) Rebus is retired, he still has great grip on the case. Star rating 5.

Andrea Di Robilant A Venetian Affair (Harper). Based on a stash of letters discovered in an old case, the story is one of intrigue and unfulfilled love stretching from the canals of Venice to the lush mansions of London via the less salubrious parts of Paris. Not my type of story at all, but the Venice connection provided the important key. Star rating 4 (if only for the interweaving of the facts with the fiction).

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