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Something to read

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Once I have read an exceptional good book, I find it hard to find something to read again, And this year I have been enjoying some of the best sellers _ New York Times bestsellers.

First of course Dead Wake by Erik Larson, the extremely well researched history of the sinking of the Lusitania. But I have written about this in a previous blog and ARK has also concurred with me – this is a brilliant book, not to be missed.

dead wake

Then I picked up The Girl on the Train, quite an unusual murder mystery. Although this book will not win the Pulitzer Prize for literature it is still an engaging story. A fun-read. ‘ Like its train, the story blasts through the stagnation of these lives in suburban London and the reader cannot help but turn pages.”—The Boston Globe

Alfred Hitchcock may have said all there is to say about the fallibility of making assumptions about what you see through a window, but, like most important lessons, this one can bear some repeating. To the limited scope of a window frame, the former London journalist Paula Hawkins, in her debut thriller, “The Girl on the Train,” offers a few additional obfuscations. First, her novel’s protagonist, Rachel, looks out through the window of a moving train on her daily commute. Second, Rachel is your basic hot mess: depressed, unemployed, still in mourning for the death of her marriage and prone to alcoholic blackouts that coincide with critical moments in the tale of a missing woman later found dead. Rachel might as well be wearing a sign that reads “Unreliable Narrator.” New York Times review.

The girl on the train

The next book was Claire Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days – whosebewitching debut takes us from the cosy confines of a London home to the dark heart of the forest, following the breadcrumb trail of eight-year-old Peggy Hillcoat. […] Like all good fairy tales, this is a book filled with suspense and revelation, light and shadow and the overwhelming feeling that nothing is quite as it seems in the Hillcoats’ lives. It’s spellbinding, scary stuff.
The Sunday Express

Is it all possible? I had to think about it. Are the characters for real, even the imagined friends? Oh yes for sure. But if you could survive that long in the wilderness I doubt very much.

our endless numbered days

And then Hausfrau. Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel, but remember that Essbaum is first and fore mostly a poet which explains the beautiful prose.

Hausfrau

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER  “Sexy and insightful, this gorgeously written novel opens a window into one woman’s desperate soul.”—People
There are echoes in Hausfrau of those other frustrated wives, Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina. Here, as in those novels, we expect tragedy at the turn of every page. 

So now I am reading for the second time ASA Harrison’s The Silent wife.

(I almost never read books twice so this should tell you something. The other book that I read twice was Julian Barnes A Sense of an Ending – superb.) “Harrison has spun a masterfully suspenseful tale in which the main plot point is given away from the beginning – no easy feat. It’s a story of the end of a marriage, the end of love and how long buried secrets can cast a long shadow.” – The Cleveland Plain Deale

Beautifully and superbly written. And had she lived I would imagine she would have gone on to   win many literary prizes.

None of these above should ever be compared with the third rate book (and very poor movie) Gone Girl. Please.

 I was never a fan of ‘Gone Girl’, and am glad I did not know that this novel, ‘The Silent Wife’ was being compared to ‘Gone Girl’. This is an entirely separate novel, connected only by the season, a summer novel/thriller. Amazon Review.

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We will never really know

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It is normal for the human brain to want to know, to have closure, to have it explained. We need to know why, probably because in the evolution of mankind to understand is to be prepared for the future. Part of the DNA of survival. Of humans that is.

There’s something wrong with Auntie Dianne was on TV here last week. The story of an American mother who one morning with  kids in the car drove up the wrong way on the highway killing herself, 4 children and the people in the other oncoming car.

Diane Schuler, a 36-year-old Long Island “supermom,” caused a collision while driving a minivan the wrong way on New York’s Taconic State Parkway. She killed herself and seven others, including her 2-year-old daughter; her three nieces (ages 5, 7 and 8); and three men in the sport-utility vehicle that she hit head-on. It’s one of those ghastly crashes people will talk about forever.

Especially because of Schuler’s autopsy results: Sometime after packing up and leaving her family’s annual Catskills camp-out on a Sunday morning for the 140-mile trip home, Schuler began bizarrely zigzagging off her usual route. For reasons unknown, she consumed enough vodka after leaving the camp (a 1.75-liter bottle of Absolut was found in the wreckage) to attain a blotto-level blood-alcohol test result of 0.19, according to investigators — more than twice the legal limit for motorists. Lab results revealed Schuler also smoked marijuana that day.

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-07-24/lifestyle/35237813_1_diane-schuler-emma-hance-garbus

She was not an alcoholic, or was she? It was said that she was not a drug addict, she occasionally smoked a joint to relax in the evening, she was a responsible wife and mother, and she turned up for work on time every day as the main bread winner. What happened?  What indeed happened for her to act completely out of her normal parameters of behaviour?  Did she have a psychotic episode? Out of the blue? Did she have stroke? How can the alcohol and marijuana be explained?  Or was she a closet alcoholic?

I have theory but it is only a theory

We will really never know.

M phoned the other day, one of their colleagues was found by his wife, -he had committed suicide. Or did he? A successful professional, no financial problems, a happy marriage with a wife who adored him, often went walking with the dogs was healthy and fit. The previous evening they had dinner with friends and it was a happy occasion. Afterwards the wife went to bed and he worked on his lecture to be given the following week in a foreign country.

No suicide note, no indications of depression. Nothing to explain this. How on earth must his wife and his parents come to terms with his death if they have no answers?

When my brother committed suicide at least I knew the reason – I had lived with this fear for a long time-   but there were 1000 other questions – unfinished business. There is always unfinished business when somebody commits suicide. At one stage I thought I should maybe go to a séance or something and mentioned this to me sister in law. If you know me you would surely know this is the last thing I believe in. My sister in law said my brother was net into this kind of stuff either and furthermore he would probably be spiteful and not come. But then she gave me the name of their marriage guidance councillor – a Dutch Reformed minister –  and said he should be able to provide me with some answers. And he did. God /religion / souls/ heaven/ hell / eternity/ we’ll meet again were never even mentioned. And I walked out of there with a ton lifted off my shoulders. I found some explanation and therefore I could eventually come to terms with the tragedy.

I know how important it is to know.