Friday, 23 December 2016

Top Ten Lists 2016 - #3

It's hard to believe that it's already Dec 23rd. We're still trying to get into the Xmas mood here. It'll all come together on the day. Yesterday we planned our meals for the next few days and did some last minute grocery shopping. We fiddle-farted around with Xmas tree lights last night, you get one row glowing and then another craps out. But for about the first time ever, I managed to fix a row... Woo Hoo!!

Anyway, on to my ongoing Top Ten List of songs and books of 2016. Today, lets take a look at my #3's

Number 3

Song Selection

Jack Savoretti - I'm Yours
I've listened to songs from my #3 artist, Italian - English singer, Jack Savoretti, for awhile now. Some I've liked, some I've been a bit wishy - washy about. But recently the missus and I have seen him on some shows, I think It Takes Two (the Friday panel) and he seemed so very nice and funny. And we heard him perform as well and enjoyed him very much. I'm Yours is a lovely, moody song. (You can hear it by clicking on the song title under his photo.

Book Selection

I've read the first two of Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie mysteries previously and enjoyed them so very much. Behind the Scenes at the Museum was my first stab at one of her fiction novels. I loved it! English writer, Kate Atkinson has written 4 standalone novels and also 4 books in the Jackson Brodie series. Behind the Scenes at the Museum was her first novel and was winner of the Whitbread Prize for first novel and also Book of the Year. I can see why. She has such a thoughtful, unique style and her stories bring out the gamut of emotions, making you tear up and laugh out loud. I can't recommend this story more. It's a must read. My review is below.

"What a beautiful, wonderful, funny, sad, lovely novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum is. The novel is the debut for Kate Atkinson. I'd already read a couple of her Jackson Brodie mysteries and enjoyed them very much. While this novel displayed the wonderful story - telling abilities she displayed in the other novels, it is so different.
Basically it is the history of a family, as told by Ruby Lennox. It follows Ruby and her sisters as they grow up in York, England but also tracks back to her descendants; her mother, Bunty, Bunty's parents and grand-parents and Ruby's siblings. That's the story at its simplest.
Atkinson tells it so wonderfully, filling each page with beautifully crafted scenes and events. Some are so funny, the family road trip to Scotland. Some are desperately sad, Edmund's last minutes in a bomber over Germany. You feel each and every little story within the larger context of Ruby's growing up. After each couple of chapters, there are footnotes, where we meet the descendants, Edmund, Lillian, Lawrence.
I found myself asking my wife, who is from England, what various references were, TV shows that Ruby watched, toys they played with, etc. Not crucial to enjoying the story, but still nice to add that additional texture. It's a family with secrets, as I imagine most families have, and they all tie together by the end. There are neat little path crossings of characters throughout the story and by the end, some revelations that will complete the whole story.
I found myself running through the whole gamut of emotions, anger at times, sadness, happiness. I found myself chuckling at bits and having to read those portions to the missus. At the end, even as it wound up satisfactorily, I felt an ache in my heart and had to get a big hug.
Wonderful story of family history, in the same vein as some of my other favourites, like The Poisonwood Bible, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, To Kill a Mockingbird and The World According to Garp. So glad I read it finally.  I will continue reading the Jackson Brodie mysteries and her other standalone books. Atkinson is a great author."

It was definitely a pleasure to read. So two more days until Christmas and two more Selections as we wind down 2016.

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