I tend to get crushes – literary crushes – where I read a book and I think Oooh and I think Ohhhh and I think, I have to read more by this author!
And I read more and I think Mmm, what a delicious turn of phrase, and I need to get me some more of those concepts! and, oh, when you write like that it makes me feel…
And then… Oh yes, oh yes! This is fantastic, I want to be able to write like this! THIS IS IT!
A recent crush of mine was Rachel Joyce. I loved ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’, I thought ‘Perfect’ was beautiful and as for ‘The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy’, well, it had me crying so hard I could barely read the words. The author has a way of seeing beauty in the mundane and giving you faith in the human spirit even in the face of the heartbreak and hardship that her characters face. I highly recommend her books.
My latest crush is Liane Moriarty, an author who’s grown on me over the past few years. I didn’t fall for her as fast as I fell for Rachel Joyce but now I’m every bit as enthralled. She’s a different sort of writer and I guess you’d find her in the ‘chick lit’ section of a book shop, but that label, to me (without wishing to diss chick lit authors), belies the depth of her writing.
I read ‘The Husband’s Secret’ last year which I found gripping, then later read ‘What Alice Forgot’ which I loved, but it’s ‘Big Little Lies’ (which I’ve just finished reading) that has sent me in to full-on crush territory. It’s a wonderful book which manages to be funny and lighthearted at the same time as serious and touching. It’s warm and frothy while being deep and meaningful. Actually, I think this is a skill the author displays in all of her books – they’re so easy to read but can still make you think, not to mention laugh and cry.
Big Little Lies is set in a small coastal community and the action revolves around a school. When the book begins we find out that a death (could it be murder?) has occurred at a school trivia night (murder at a school trivia night – see what I mean about gravity and lightness?) and then the story leaps back six months to allow us to see the events leading up to it. Relationships are forged and broken and heart-breaking secrets and lies are revealed, all against the backdrop of hilariously bitchy school gates and yet with a heartwarming core of friendship.
I loved the three central characters – all (very different) mothers of kids just starting school – and the minor characters (who we met largely through tiny interview snippets between chapters) were fantastic too. The author has created a wonderfully vivid community that I could empathise with, which gives the hard-hitting elements of the story even more impact. I loved it. One of my favourite books this year.
Now, if I could just learn to write like that… *sighs dreamily*