Book of the Week, Forgotten books, literary fiction, new releases, Thriller, women's fiction

Book of the Week: The Feast

Well it was actually a proper contest for BotW this week between this and the new Taylor Jenkins Reid book, Malibu Rising, but The Feast really impressed me and is definitely lower on the radar than the TJR. But I’m sure I’ll find a way to talk about that too – after all summer holidays are coming – theoretically at least, so perhaps there’s a sunlounger (in your garden if no where more exotic) reading post in my future!

Cover of The Feast

This one is really hard to summarise without giving too much away, and that would really ruin some of the enjoyment, but here goes: At the start of The Feast we hear about the Pendizak Manor Hotel, now buried under a collapsed cliff, with seven guests dead. The rest of the book is set in the week running up to that cliff collapse, which happened in the middle of summer 1947. You spend the book getting to know all the people who live and work at the hotel and the ins and outs of their lives. I went through the book wondering whether it was going to turn out to be a thriller, or a tragedy or something else – it’s a complete page-turner. And the characters, oh the characters. Of all of the adults, there’s really only Nancy who is sensible. The hotel is owned by a formerly genteel family fallen on hard times and who have turned the family home into a boarding house to try and make ends meet, and their guests tend to be people Mrs Siddal thinks are the “right sort” – although as you learn about them, you realise that “the right sort” may not be nice people at all…

The Feast was first published in 1949 and this is a new edition with an introduction from Cathy Rentzenbrink. Now I’ve been had by spoilers in introductions before so I deliberately skipped it before I read it so it wouldn’t ruin anything for me and I recommend you do the same because it really repaid me – both in reading the book the first time through and then when I read the introduction in giving me more layers and levels to think about. I read Margaret Kennedy’s more famous book, The Constant Nymph, a couple of years back and could see why it was influential, but didn’t love it – mostly because the characters were annoying but not in a so annoying you want to see them get their comeuppance sort of way – but with this lot, the ones that are annoying are really annoying, and you have the added suspense of whether they’re going to end up under the cliff or not! And on top of everything, the cover for this new edition is gorgeous too. I’m seriously tempted to get myself a physical copy.

Anyway, my copy of The Feast came from NetGalley, but this new edition is out now in paperback – Foyles appear to have copies at Charing Cross Road (and a couple of other London stores) and Bristol judging by their click and collect, so I’m hoping it’ll be fairly findable in the larger book stores. And of course it’s on Kindle and Kobo. Audible also appear to have a fresh version of it too – which is a bit tempting I have to say. The blurb describes this as “rediscovered” which suggests that it may not be that easy to find secondhand – the cheapest that aren’t this new edition all appear to be in the US (with the associated postage costs) so it might have to be an actual antiquarian/second hand bookshop rather than the charity shop if you want something older, but the introduction in this edition is a really nice touch – provided of course you don’t read it first!

Happy Reading!

Authors I love, Book of the Week, fiction, Series I love, Thriller

Book of the Week: Plum Spooky

This week’s BotW post has been really tricky.  If I picked my absolute favourite book from last week – can I then still include it in my holiday reads post (which is why I was reading it in the first place)?  If I don’t pick my favourite, all my other options are going to be repeating previous favourite authors.  If I do pick my favourite it’s a repeat as well.  Tricky.  So people, this week’s book of the week is Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich.  Yes.  I know.  But There Were Reasons.

Plum Spooky
I do love a foil cover – but they’re really tricky to photograph

Plum Spooky is the fourth (and last as it stands) in the Between-the-Numbers Stephanie Plum books – which means it’s a bit like a normal Stephanie Plum but with a supernatural twist.  They’re also the books where you meet Diesel – who goes on to get a series of his own (the second of which was my Evanovich Gateway Book back in April – see previous BotW post).  Plum Spooky is the longest (a proper novel rather than a novella) and best of these fill-ins – it has the balance right between NormalSteph and SupernaturalStuff – and is a good read in it’s own right – not just because you like the other Plum books.

In Plum Spooky, Steph’s FTA has got messed up with the guy that Diesel is trying to find – and it all gets a little bit scary/weird in the Barrens – an area which reminds me a lot of the were-panther area in Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Series.  Spooky is very good at balancing the supernatural element of the story with the normal bounty hunter storylines from the regular series.  Having Diesel around does mean less Ranger and Morelli action – but as these are meant to be slightly outside the mains series you couldn’t really have any action that impacts those relationships without causing ructions.

This is great fun – but probably best enjoyed with a bit of existing knowledge of the series – or if you know you like this sort of book. You should be able to get it from all the usual places – and probably your second-hand book store too.

This week I’ve planned my reading better.  And that Summer Reading post is nearly ready, I promise. Just a few more books to read…