Crongton Knights book review

I’ve recently started work in the library at a local comprehensive school in mostly white, middle-class suburbia in the South East of England and was pleasantly surprised to discover this on our shelves. I didn’t realise it was the middle book in a trilogy until I’d finished the book, delighted to say it stands on its own two feet, I didn’t feel I’d missed anything by not reading the first book (however, I shall be checking we own all three, such was the power of this book). It moved me, it shook me and it made me laugh. Somehow, this book, written using street talk I am totally unfamiliar with, set in a fictitious inner city, full of gangs and a culture I am so far removed from, struck a chord deep inside that will stay with me for a long time. It proved to me, once again, that the power of words can reach out like a winding rope and wrap around you and reel you in and you don’t want to escape, you want more, you want to ride alongside the characters, you want their safety, you want their bonds to include you and you want them to live. Read it.
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<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/8573306-debra”>View all my reviews</a>

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So good I just had to share it.

I chose this book for our Book Group last year. I confess I didn’t read it. Life unexpectedly got very busy and I was unable to go to our next meeting and I wasn’t going to be there to talk about it, sad but that’s how life is sometimes. However, I recently downloaded it as an audio book and have just spent the last two weeks listening to all 19 hours of it and it is still inside my head and won’t go away.  You know when you’ve read a good book, it stays with you and when you have a quiet moment it pops into your mind and you enjoy it again. This one doesn’t wait for a quiet moment, it shouts at me to take more notice, urges me not to forget any of it and to really hear the messages it delivers. So, here I am, listening to the voices in my head and sharing what I think.

This is the book.

9780099593584

This is my Goodreads review.

“Probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. One of those books that really gets into your psyche. How do you review a book like that? I suppose I could go on about the plot, how it’s based on the author’s father and draws on his contemporaries’ memories, about how is deals with love on so many different levels, about the times on the Burma railway. There is so much in this book, where do I start? I suggest you read the other reviews, they will explain it better than I can but I can tell you that I read it and then I listed to the author narrate it over 19 hours; he nuanced every single word, he drew out every single pause and gently read the most traumatic scenes with devastating effect. The book addresses the issues of good and evil, right and wrong, nature versus nurture, cause and effect so simply and honestly without being preachy and allows you to make up your own mind only to turn your decision on its head in the next chapter. It deserved the Man Booker Prize of 2014. As the chair of judges said that year “some years, very good books with the Man Booker Prize but this year a masterpiece has won it” Need I say more?”

A book you can finish in a day

Reading challenge – the first book.

I love my Kindle but was delighted when my daughter asked me for a book list so she could chose one from it to buy me for Christmas in print form. What a joy it was to scribble down books that had been in my head for a while. She chose The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay. It is published by The British Library as part of their Crime Classics series and was first published in 1936. Here’s my review for Goodreads.

A good old-fashioned murder mystery in a Downton Abbey-esque setting albeit not quite so grand. The patriarch is murdered and everyone is a suspect including Santa Klaus. The investigator is the Chief Constable who, of course, is a family friend but remains impartial. The bulk of the story is told from his point of view but various other characters are asked to write their account of events in a story form and these are integrated into the tale. I loved the writing style, so true of the upper classes of the 1920s-30s yet Hay also writes in dialect and it’s perfectly done. I’ve never read Agatha Christie but I suspect they would have similar styles. I would have liked a longer epilogue, I felt it ended quite abruptly but I suppose there wasn’t really any more to say.