Saturday, 8 August 2020

All Men Want To Know by Nina Bouraoui


All Men Want To Know by Nina Bouraoui
First published in French as Tous les hommes désirent naturellement savoir in France in August 2018. English language translation by Aneesa Abbas Higgins published by Viking on the 6th August 2020.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

All Men Want to Know traces Nina Bouraoui's blissful childhood in Algeria, a wild, sun-soaked paradise, with hazy summer afternoons spent swimming, diving, and driving across the desert. Her mother is French, her father Algerian; when racial tensions begin to surface in their neighbourhood, her mother suffers an unspeakable act of violence that forces the family to flee the country.

In Paris, eighteen-year-old Nina lives alone. It's the 1980s. Four nights a week she makes her way to The Kat, a legendary gay nightclub, where she watches women from the sidelines, afraid of her own desires, her sudden and intoxicating freedom. In her solitude, she starts to write - and finds herself writing about her mother.

All Men Want to Know is a haunting, lyrical international bestseller about mothers and daughters, about shame and sexuality, about existing between two cultures and belonging to neither. A phenomenon in France, this is a defining portrait of womanhood from one of Europe's greatest living writers.

I think that All Men Want To Know is going to be a Marmite of a book in that readers will either love the atmosphere and character Bouraoui creates, or will be very irritated by her writing style. Personally I am firmly in the first camp!

In what she describes as 'autobiographical fiction' Bouraoui explores her overwhelming sense of not belonging. She is half-Algerian and half-French and finds herself suspended between each of these cultures without being at home in either. She is also a closeted lesbian whose coming out would be prevented by the strict social taboos of her Algerian childhood so she struggles to establish a sexual identity for herself even in the more open climate of 1980s Paris. All the aspects of her personality are jumbled together and this is brilliantly expressed through similar jumbling of the first person narration of All Men Want To Know. Our unnamed narrator skips between moments from her Algerian childhood to nights at a Parisian nightclub, memories of her French grandmother to her intense need to write. Some scenes last for a page or more, others might be just a paragraph, so the full novel reads more as stream of consciousness than organised memoir.

I loved the sense of not knowing where to draw lines between Bouraoui the character and Bouraoui the author and this reminded me of reading Seeing Red by Lina Meruane. All Men Want To Know has such a powerful authenticity to it that I came away feeling as though I truly understood our narrator's personal confusion. This is very much a novel of women's experiences and women's relationships between friends and within families as well as sexual love. I highly recommend this book to readers of intense psychological stories and to people who can empathise with feeling alienated.


Etsy Find!
by Rose Finchie in
the USA

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Nina Bouraoui / Contemporary fiction / Books from Algeria

Friday, 7 August 2020

Body And Soul by Khoa Ngo


Body And Soul by Khoa Ngo
Published on the 2nd February 2017.

A Book With A Vegetarian Character

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Smashwords

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


When two reapers decide to play necromancer to bury a mistake, everything spins out of control, for them and for the one they call back from beyond the grave - a soul of a wrongly reaped young woman trapped inside the body of a freshly dead girl. As the struggle for dominance between the vessel and the soul intensifies, the reapers have their own battle to resolve between ethics and sentiments.

I found this quirky short story on Smashwords when I was searching for indie Vietnamese authors to make up the fifth for my WorldReads from Vietnam. Body And Soul actually fits well with my Balthazar's Bane review yesterday because both stories prominently feature necromancers. I'm not usually much of a fantasy reader, but I did really enjoy the ideas in Body And Soul especially the philosophical questions of whether our identity is primarily determined by our body's experiences or our soul's understanding. This might only be a short story - it's just under 40 pages - but its themes resonate long after there are no more pages to turn!

On a negative note, unfortunately the book could do with serious proofreading because there are frequent typo errors to navigate as well as Khoa's idiosyncratic English. I liked her writing style overall though and she has a good eye for atmospheric details that add depth to her scenes. The point of view changes are interesting too because they allow us to view the necromancers' 'experiment' from multiple perspectives. Overall an entertaining dark story that's well worth its minimal price tag!

Etsy Find!
by civil war lady in
the USA

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more
:
Books by Khoa Ngo / Short stories / Books from Vietnam

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Balthazar's Bane by Kat Ross + #Giveaway


Balthazar’s Bane
Kat Ross
(Gaslamp Gothic, #6)
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: July 31st 2020
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Retelling

A More Than One Challenge read
A bungled murder.
A ridiculous quest.
And a hero with extremely dodgy credentials.

Christmas 1889. Count Balthazar Jozsef Habsburg-Koháry tries to lead a simple life.
Oh, he enjoys a few hobbies.
Collecting ancient Egyptian artifacts. Hunting necromancers with a wire garrote. Impersonating dead Hungarian nobility. Seducing an endless string of women who never suspect the price of the count’s attentions.
But considering what Balthazar used to be like, these pursuits are harmless. And surely he deserves a reward for assassinating the elusive necromancer John Mortlake in the middle of Cairo’s teeming bazaar. What could be better than a holiday cruise up the Nile with his secretary Lucas Devereaux?
There’s just one thing that might ruin his mood.
If, for example, someone stole the talisman that’s kept him alive for two thousand years.
That would really suck.
Unfortunately for Balthazar, he just killed the wrong necromancer – one with a vengeful daughter and huge debts to some very shady djinn. To get his mojo back, he and Lucas must find a legendary sword and liberate a desert kingdom of magical misfits. For centuries, the people of Al Miraj have sought a valiant champion willing to face the wrath of the arch demon Fulad-zereh!
What they get is Balthazar.
But the gods always did like a good joke.

Balthazar's Bane is is a lush adventure novel that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's the second of Kat Ross' Gaslamp Gothic books that I have read (it's actually the sixth in the series) and I'm happy to say that I was just as entertained by this story as I was by my previous read, Dead Ringer. The novels both start in the year 1889, but otherwise they are standones with different characters and very different settings.

Balthazar's Bane is steeped in fantastical mythology with spiteful demons and powerful djinn, the magical city of Al Miraj and a suitably impossible Quest for our hero. I loved reading about Balthazar. He is humorously vain and likes to pretend an aloofness and lack of emotional depth, but does actually have a good heart, albeit one that is pretty well buried. His ever-loyal secretary, Lucas, is another great character and their dialogue always sparkles especially once Balthazar's eye is caught by a certain alluring woman. The will-they-won't-they attraction between Balthazar and Zarifa is seriously sexy. It's a fun battle of wits.

Ross excels at creating richly detailed and imaginative settings throughout this story and I love how she can impart descriptive information without ever losing the exciting pace she sets. From the Cairo bazaar to Al Miraj and beyond, I was transported to a wondrous 'Arabian Nights' environment with hints of ancient Greek mythology scattered around too. Keeping up with all the changing allegiances is quite a challenge because, apart from poor Lucas I think, everybody is out for themselves to some extent. I appreciated that no one is completely good or completely evil and the mix of motivations adds a good depth to the novel. I'm now a committed Gaslamp Gothic fan!



Author Bio:
Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.

GIVEAWAY!
Win 1 of 5 ebook copies of the Gaslamp Gothic boxset which contains the first five novels in this series.
Open internationally until the 13th August.

XBTBanner1

Etsy Find!
by Unique History Shop in
Ukraine

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Kat Ross / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

#WorldReads - Five Books From Lebanon

If this is your first visit to my WorldReads blog series, the idea of the posts is to encourage and promote the reading of global literature. On the 5th of each month (or the 4th this month!) I highlight five books I have read by authors from a particular country and you can see links to previous countries' posts at the end of this post. From May 2016 until March 2020, WorldReads was hosted on my Stephanie Jane blog. From April 2020 onwards it is right here on Literary Flits
Click the book titles or cover images to visit their Literary Flits book review pages.

This month we are going to Lebanon!



by Elias Khoury



Le Chat Boulanger by Mirella Youssef



The Occasional Virgin by Hanan Al-Shaykh



Pearls On A Branch by Najla Jraissaty Khoury



The Prophet by Khalil Gibran


That's it for August's WorldReads from Lebanon. I hope I have tempted you to try reading a book from this country and if you want more suggestions, click through to see all my Literary Flits reviews of Lebanese-authored books!


If you missed any earlier WorldReads posts, I have already 'visited'

Africa: Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Zimbabwe,

Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, United States of America,

Asia: China, India, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Syria, Turkey,

Australasia: Australia, New Zealand,

Europe: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Wales.

In September I will be highlighting five books by Vietnamese authors. See you on the 5th to find out which ones!

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain + #Giveaway



Join us for this tour from July 14 to Aug 10, 2020!

Book Details:

Book Title:  The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain
Category:  Adult fiction 18 yrs +,  264 pages
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Publisher:  Sparkpress
Release date:   August 4, 2020
Content Rating:  PG-13 + M because there are references to extra-marital affairs. There is no explicit sex in the book.


Book Description:

With the cloud of the Holocaust still looming over them, twin sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski and their parents arrive in the US from a Displaced Persons Camp. In the years after World War II, they experience the difficulties of adjusting to American culture as well as the burgeoning fear of the Cold War. Years later, the discovery of a former Nazi hiding in their community brings the Holocaust out of the shadows. As the girls get older, they start to wonder about their parents’ pasts, and they begin to demand answers. But it soon becomes clear that those memories will be more difficult and painful to uncover than they could have anticipated. Poignant and haunting, The Takeaway Men explores the impact of immigration, identity, prejudice, secrets, and lies on parents and children in mid-twentieth-century America.

Release date: August 4, 2020
Amazon.com ~ Amazon UK ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound ~ The Book Depository

Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

Meryl Ain’s articles and essays have appeared in Huffington Post, The New York Jewish Week, The New York Times, Newsday and other publications. The Takeaway Men is her debut novel. In 2014, she co-authored the award-winning book, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last, and in 2016, wrote a companion workbook, My Living Memories Project Journal. She is a sought-after speaker and has been interviewed on television, radio, and podcasts. She is a career educator and is proud to be both a teacher and student of history. She has also worked as a school administrator.

The Takeaway Men is the result of her life-long quest to learn more about the Holocaust, a thirst that was first triggered by reading The Diary of Anne Frank in the sixth grade. While teaching high school history, she introduced her students to the study of the Holocaust. At the same time, she also developed an enduring fascination with teaching about and researching the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case. An interview with Robert Meeropol, the younger son of the Rosenbergs, is featured in her book, The Living Memories Project. The book also includes an interview with Holocaust survivor, Boris Chartan, the founder of the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, New York.

Meryl holds a BA from Queens College, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Ed.D. from Hofstra University. She lives in New York with her husband, Stewart. They have three married sons and six grandchildren.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~ Facebook Twitter ~ Instagram


Tour Schedule:

July 14 – Viviana MacKade – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
July 14 - Working Mommy Journal – book review / giveaway
July 14 - Book World Reviews  - book review / author interview
July 15 – 100 Pages A Day – book review / giveaway
July 16 – RebeccaReviewedIt – book review / author interview
July 17 – T's Stuff – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
July 18 - Just One More Chapter – book review
July 20 – Pick a good book – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
July 21 – Splashes of Joy – book review / author interview / giveaway
July 22 - Rockin' Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
July 23 – Olio by Marilyn – book spotlight / author interview
July 23 – Olio by Marilyn – book review / giveaway
July 24 – THE WORLD AS I SEE IT – book review
July 27 – Book after Book – book spotlight / author interview
July 28 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
July 28 - Leels Loves Books - book review / giveaway
July 29 – She Just Loves Books – book review / giveaway
July 30 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
July 31 – Reading is My Passion – book review / giveaway
July 31 - The Eclectic Review – book review
Aug 3 – I'm All About Books – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Aug 3 - Sefina Hawke's Books – book spotlight
Aug 4 - Library of Clean Reads – book review / giveaway
Aug 4 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
Aug 4 - Peaceful Pastime – book review
Aug 4 - Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
Aug 5 – Svetlanas reads and views – book review
Aug 5 - Books and Zebras – book review / giveaway
Aug 5 - Alexis Marie Chute – book review / author interview
Aug 6 – Pen Possessed – book review / giveaway
Aug 6 - Books for Books – book spotlight
Aug 7 – StoreyBook Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Aug 10 – My Fictional Oasis – book review
Aug 10 - Adventurous Jessy - book review / giveaway


Enter the Giveaway:
Win 1 of 5 copies of The Takeaway Men or a $25 Amazon gift card (6 winners).
Open to the USA Only until the 17th August.
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


 


Etsy Find!
by Ruth Shapiro in
the USA

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Meryl Ain / Historical fiction / Books from America

Monday, 3 August 2020

August Fog by A.L. Goulden + #Giveaway


August Fog
A.L. Goulden
(August Fog, #1)
Publication date: August 1st 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Women’s Fiction
Monica Waters has 31 days to choose between the love of her life or her soulmate. Juggling an unglamorous Hollywood career and a clumsy injury with an endless cocktail of antidepressants and dull daily routines, Monica moves through her thirties in a fog, avoiding the pain of her damaged marriage, broken body, and fragile mind.
Until he comes along.
When emerging artist Quinn Matthews moves next door, just coping with the downward spiral of life is no longer feasible. Their powerful connection ignites a relationship that will tip the boundaries of their perfectly balanced lives, sparking a mutual obsession and life-altering affair.
Monica tosses her prescriptions, striving to be free of their control, but with each passing summer day, dangerous secrets seep into their quiet suburban life, inching toward disaster. Sometimes the truth is hidden for a reason. 
“This is a contemporary tale of a woman’s struggle to navigate love and mental illness, while defining where and how she will land on her own feet.” –Independent Reader
“A raw and honest look at the ugly secrets behind a flawed marriage and the stigmas of depression.”
EXCERPT:
They meet
Fusion can happen when two objects reach an extreme heat. When the blood boils, the same can be said of hearts. The connection can excite and ache and torment, yet the demise of will goes unnoticed when the thrill renders an addictive high. Monica Waters once loved getting high, both literally and figuratively, but outgrew the juvenile practice of artistic inspiration. She had responsibilities now, like a mortgage and an admirable career… and a husband.
Antidepressants helped too.
When Los Angeles soared past eighty-five degrees in April the unsettling promise of perpetual summer ignited tension across freeways. Monica shielded anxiety with music and a fun car. Bob Marley had eased an hour-long commute, also known as Thursday, delivering her to the sanctuary of home until she slammed the brakes.
A yellow Nissan blocked the driveway with no owner in sight. Her best friend owned the same vehicle but not with New York plates so she glared next door. Sharing a driveway with Rebecca’s bohemian flophouse had reached its limit.
Monica wedged her BMW into an ivy-covered carport at an awkward angle and pried herself out, trying not to scratch her paint against the fence. She mumbled a few obscenities when she couldn’t get leverage to slam the door but squeezed past the filthy SUV, smoothing her long chestnut hair. The tall Japanese-style gate that led to her bonsai garden greeted with Zen and wafts of jasmine.
That’s when she saw him.
On the wooden staircase that wound up to Rebecca’s converted attic was a man that shifted everything into slow motion. A man, that for a second at least, she would follow anywhere. Her reaction defied rational explanation. The guy wearing jeans and t-shirt carried a box but even his muscular build was common in this town. Still, he had a gentle force of gravity tugging like a current.
The back of his shaved head lacked noticeable character, but his climb was hypnotic. She stopped breathing while her heart pounded at an alarming speed. A beautiful tattoo engulfed his entire right arm with gnarled branches and scattered leaves of an old tree. It rooted around the box and swayed like a breeze as he moved.
When the gate slipped from her fingers, the slam jolted her from the daze and he turned. She inspected her purse and fumbled with her keys even when he paused near the top of the stairs, waiting for attention. She rushed to her back door but couldn’t resist the draw of his stare.
His eyes were crystal blue and pensive under a low-slung heavy brow. He stood confident like carved hardwood left unpolished with ample lips, a strong jaw, and a rugged nose, but didn’t come off as arrogant or boring. Her stomach twisted at his asymmetrical smile.
He was beautiful.
Flushed, she returned a tight grin and nod before barreling into her laundry room. “Who’s the guy next door?” she asked, dropping her stuff on the counter next to the deep sink.
Alex, still sweaty from work, gave her a quick kiss, which was followed by the smacks of a powerful dog tail to her thigh. Her husband’s own shaved head and brawny build still resembled an action hero but his gray eyes lacked the dangerous edge that once made him magnetic.
“You mean the Kelly Slater look-alike?” He laughed. “Rebecca’s renting out the upstairs to some artist. She says he’s bi-coastal… whatever that means. Pretty sure he’s gay.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Did you see what he drives?”
She cocked her head. “So.”
“So? That’s what Robin drives.” He flashed his hands.
“That might be the dumbest thing ever said. Did he look at you too long or something?” “Hey, I’ve got no problem if he’s gay. He can look all he wants. I’m just saying.” Alex flexed his arms and inspected himself.
“Just because Rebecca’s a lesbian doesn’t mean everyone she’s around is gay.” Monica reached to pet their rambunctious Lab Pointer mix, Lacey. “I just hate that she and Julie split. I miss her.”
“Me too. I wish she won the house but Rebecca could afford it.”
“Then why’s she renting out rooms?” Her words had that petulant tone she hated with an unwarranted volume.
“I don’t know,” he said, flicking the counter. “It’s not like we have control over our neighbors.” He shuffled towards the bathroom, stripping for his shower along the way. She watched, remembering when that used to send her running after him, but now he hopped around in his socks and underwear looking more child-like than sexy.
In her ballerina flats, Monica was two inches shy of six feet and two years shy of forty. Her curvy size fourteen worked in Hollywood, the land of size zeros. Sometimes she resented being a giant next to tiny, beautiful people because it equated invisibility, but she faked smiles in the back of every crew photo despite the obscurity of an editing career.
She bent to give Lacey attention and propped the back door open while Mr. Bi-coastal moved from his vehicle to the yard. The redwood fence obscured his face but a childhood crush on Yul Brynner embedded an allure to a nice shaved head. Staring like a lech though erased dignity, so she mustered the nerve to make an introduction.
She stepped outside but an eruption of vicious barking made her yelp. Two enormous Rottweilers flanked the middle landing on the staircase, flinging drool over the fence. Lacey ducked behind Monica in fear.
“No. No barking!” Mr. Bi-coastal bounded up the stairs. “I’m so sorry,” he said, setting another box down. “I promise I’ll keep them quiet. They’re friendly, I swear.” He drew an X over his heart like a seven-year-old but his intense expression was all grown-ass-man.
“It’s alright.” She swallowed hard. “My husband had lovable Rotts growing up.” Spitting out her marital status made her fidget but his shoulders relaxed. “My name’s Monica.”
“I’m Quinn.” He leaned against the railing that hovered above as if to shake her hand. “Did you guys just drive across the country?”
“Yeah.” He squatted to pet them and she noticed his left arm didn’t have visible tattoos.
“This is Sadie and Max. Once they know you, they’ll stop barking.”
She moved closer, pretending to care about this new pet relationship despite growls with
each step. “They’re just protective of you.” “Lucky me.”
She tried not to stare at the unicorn but artists wore gangly and pale with pride, escaping food and sun for months. This man nurtured his body.
“Beautiful dogs.”
Alex stood behind her, wet from the shower in just basketball shorts, but the lack of a Q-tip or something equally inappropriate was boggling.
Quinn straightened. “I was just telling your wife they’re friendly.”
Alex climbed the fence to engage their slobbery faces up-close and flaunt an arm tattoo of a Rott named Bosco. Monica was new to living with dogs but presumed they couldn’t recognize the image of devotion in permanent ink. This king-of-the-castle act was for Quinn.
“Nice tat,” he said, squatting for a closer look.
An immediate tit-for-tat and subtle competition developed between them but Monica found herself comparing odd qualities while they bonded over dogs. The pitch of their voices aligned and laughter became punctuation. Their attributes mimicked one another but Alex’s head was larger while Quinn ate leaner and worked out. They could pass as brothers but something about Quinn upset her.
He was too close.
The two historical homes sat less than seven feet apart, thanks to the lack of building restrictions in the 1920s. That proximity, which had sparked numerous noise complaints, didn’t seem to bother Alex now, tickling those beefy dog faces.
“Rebecca said you’re only here part-time.” Alex stepped off the fence and crossed his arms.
“I’m just starting to show my work here.” He hesitated as if he wasn’t sure he wanted to share more. “My agent thought it was wise, so I’ll be back and forth a lot.”
She hated the two adorable little creases that formed next to his eyes when he smiled. They were marks of experience. Marks of a life lived.
“We should let you get settled,” Alex said, motioning towards the box still sitting on the landing.
Quinn nodded. “It was nice meeting you guys.”
“Absolutely.” She cringed at her valley-girl tone and bizarre wave given to dogs with inherently sad eyes. She beelined for their bedroom hoping to erase that weird encounter from memory.



Author Bio:
Author of the “most realistic, often hilarious, and wonderfully romantic” (Rosie Malezer, international best- selling author) Chasing Swells returns with another emotionally charged and complicated love story about a Hollywood editor struggling with depression who meets her soulmate while she's married to her high-school sweetheart. This unique trilogy takes you through one woman's mid-life crisis as she stumbles and falls apart before realizing she's the only one who can put her pieces back together.

GIVEAWAY!
Win a $25 Amazon gift card.
Open internationally until the 13th August.

XBTBanner1

Etsy Find!
by Cool Keyrings in
the UK

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by A L Goulden / Women's fiction / Books from America

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Three Bedrooms in Manhattan by Georges Simenon


Three Bedrooms in Manhattan by Georges Simenon
First published in French as Trois chambres à Manhattan in 1946. English language translation by Marc Romano and Lawrence G Blochman published by The New York Review Of Books in 2003.

One of my Classics Club Challenge reads.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Two people who didn't know each other and who had come together by a miracle in the great city, and who now clung desperately to each other, as if already they felt a chilly solitude settling in.

A divorced actor and a lonely woman, both adrift in New York, meet by chance in an all-night diner. It is the start of something, though neither is sure what. As they move through neon-lit streets, bars, rented rooms and cheap motels, these two lost souls struggle to understand what it is that has brought them, in spite of themselves, inexorably together.

While reading Three Bedrooms In Manhattan, I was frequently reminded of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's comment last week that her parents "did not raise me to accept abuse from men". The woman at the centre of this novel, Kay, certainly does accept abuse from the man, Francois, and not only accepts his actions but expects to have to do so. Three Bedrooms is narrated in the first person by Francois so, as readers, we are party to his ugly innermost thoughts whereas we only see what Kay chooses to show Francois and his interpretations of behaviour he imagines for her. Francois has low self-esteem but instead of acknowledging this to himself, he repeatedly blames Kay for 'making him' think that she will leave him or humiliate him in some way. These imaginings leave him so angry that at one point he even repeatedly punches her in the face yet, later, neither Kay nor Francois make any mention of the violence. I was left wondering how much of what our narrator tells us is actually happening. Is Kay so desperate and inured to male abuse that she blithely accepts a beating, or did Francois lose himself in daydreaming an attack and not actually hit Kay in reality?

Simenon has a deep understanding of both these characters and I found them utterly compelling to read about even while I was often appalled at the way they treat each other. Both are depressed and bitterly lonely, on the edge of being completely broke and desperate to grab hold of the idea of a great romance. Their chance meeting leads to an instant, intense folie a deux that plays out mostly during endless walking and drinking through night-time New York or in the three eponymous bedrooms. I loved Simenon's observations of 1940s New York. Even in pre-dawn hours there is an energy to the city and a shabby seediness to its people. This background gives Three Bedrooms its atmosphere and I could clearly imagine the novel as a film noir movie. It could work brilliantly as a stage play too.

Weirdly Three Bedrooms In Manhattan has many of the ingredients of a traditional romance novel, but the dysfunctional relationship that develops is anything but romantic. Instead I think Simenon gives us an authentic portrait of loneliness. There is very little happiness in this novel, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.


Etsy Find!
by a brown paper parcel in
France

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by George Simenon / Contemporary fiction / Books from Belgium

Saturday, 1 August 2020

A Month In Books - July 2020

Welcome to July's Month In Books roundup!
We're cautiously back on the road again having spent a few night in Belgium and are now exploring the Netherlands. Our favourite stop so far was Gouda which is a lovely town to visit. We love the extensive cycling-based infrastructure which makes getting around a real pleasure, even for a nervous cyclist like me! Apologies to any Goudians put out by our lack of Dutch cycling competence though - especially mine. We felt like we needed to be wearing tabards printed with Pas Op Voor Wiebels (Beware Of Wobbles) because everyone else assumed we could zip about as blithely as they can!


Regular blog series:

In July I blogged a Caribbean WorldReads from Trinidad and Tobago. This month's Cover Characteristics collection featured Streetlights and my 5 Books, 1 Theme quintet were all 17th Century HistFic novels. I also shared my favourite Bookish Etsy Finds.
I'm still up to date on State of the ARC which I am very pleased about and managed to haul fewer books than I read.

Now, on with this Reading Roundup!
(Clicking each cover image will take you directly to my Literary Flits review or Spotlight page)

My Reviews

(Click the cover images to visit their reviews)

  
  
  
 
  
 
 


Spotlights


  
 

Book Of The Month for July goes to Chasing Solace by Karl Drinkwater, my favourite so far of his brilliant scifi series.


I hope you have found some books to tempt you in this selection! You can keep up with my daily book posts on Literary Flits plus there's now loads of Book Spotlights and Cover Reveals blogged on Stephanie Jane. Don't forget to keep up with my Giveaway Listings too!