October book review - my top picks for the month (and boy they're good!)
"So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall" ~ Roald Dahl
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine - by Gail Honeyman (2018)
“The lonelier a person gets, the less adept they become at navigating social currents. Loneliness grows around them, like mould or fur…”
~ Olivia Laing, The Lonely City
Wow - did I love this book! I’d heard a few people raving about it (Ok I’m late to the show with this and I imagine there are a fair few peeps who have already read this on their summer jollies), but for some reason I just wasn’t drawn to it. That is, until I picked it up in Sainsbury’s and read the blurb on the back and the reviews in the inside front cover. Into the shopping trolley it went! I don’t think I saw my family much that week - from the moment I started reading it, I just couldn’t put it down - it consumed me!
The author writes so beautifully, and the way she portrays the protagonist (Eleanor, in case you haven’t guessed) and paints a picture of her everyday life, is nothing short of amazing - truly original. I instantly fell in love with Eleanor - her awkwardness, her eccentricities, her nonconformist nature and her frankness. I laughed aloud at the wry, droll things Eleanor would say, think and do, made all the more comical by her lack of humorous intention. Yet as I laughed, the storyline was utterly heartbreaking - underneath everything it’s a story of solitude, isolation, loneliness and suffering.
Eleanor is a single young woman who clearly doesn’t have a place in conventional life. She keeps herself to herself, and nonchalantly shrugs off the cruel remarks and sniggers of people she comes into contact with, at work, at the shops, in the street… She has no family, and not one single friend to call her own.
The story alludes to a dark secret or mysterious tragedy, buried in her past - the reason why she has no family, the reason why she no longer trusts anyone but herself, and the reason why her face is scarred. This reason is what kept me turning the pages, hungry for more.
Then one day a stranger reaches out and Eleanor encounters acts of kindness that she’s never experienced before. She starts to feel again. As the story progresses and Eleanor emerges from her introverted self and begins to reconnect with society and the world around her, the book will have you routing for her as she starts to navigate her new found life.
A truly original, thought provoking book, which is devastating and heart warming in equal measures. Read this and you will laugh, and boy - you will cry (I defy anyone to not shed at least a couple of tears). You'll also thank the Lord for people like Raymond.
Reese Witherspoon has optioned it for film, and I simply CANNOT WAIT to see it! I’m really intrigued to see who will play Eleanor, and I wonder if it will stay true to the book and be set in Scotland or if it will be Americanised.
Have you read it yet? Who do you think would be great for the part of Eleanor?
The Tattooist of Auschwitz - by Heather Morris (2018)
Based on the powerful true story of Lale Sokolov
This is without a doubt one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I simply didn’t want it to end. It will stay with me for a very long time, if not forever. It is powerful beyond measure - perhaps because I know it’s a true story, knowing this incredible, winsome man really existed, and what he endured really did happen. It happened not just to him, but to hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and it is utterly, heartbreakingly incomprehensible.
This is the harrowing story of Lale Sokolov - an educated, smart, charming young gentleman who was one of too many people who experienced the atrocities of Auschwitz-Birkenau (historians believe 1.3 million people passed through the gates of Auschwitz). He was one of the few who actually lived to tell his tale (it’s estimated that 1.1 million people were brutally murdered, or died due to the horrific conditions they were subjected to).
It’s a story of survival at its most intense, and it portrays the best of humanity even throughout the most appalling of times. Despite living through circumstances we simply cannot imagine (although the author does a phenomenal job at painting a good picture without making the book painfully unreadable), Lale still manages to encounter friendships, keep his hopes up, and even fall in love. In the midst of hell, this book tells how Lale had an innate desire to help other prisoners (risking his own life to do so), and an unconquerable drive to ensure that himself and the woman he loved survived such horrors so they could go on to live the lives he was adamant they deserved to live.
This extraordinary book is intoxicating - gut wrenching yet uplifting, heartbreaking yet heartwarming. It’s ultimately a story of staggering endurance, strength, hope and love. My words will never do it justice.
To conclude - everyone needs to read this book! We must never forget the horrors of the holocaust - we must never forget the men, women and children who endured unparalleled horror, during what was the largest mass murder in history.
Lest we forget.
What books have you read this month? I'd love to hear what your favourites are - I'm always looking for recommendations to add to my 'to read' list!
Much love, Fran xxx
“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book”
~ J.K. Rowling
ABOUT FRAN GRANT
Fran Grant is a writer and children's author. She is also the wife of a very patient husband and the mother of 3 energetic little boys. As a self-confessed bookworm and book hoarder, she is a huge believer in keeping the magic of reading alive for children. After many years in the corporate world, Fran is now fulfilling her lifelong ambition of writing books.
Connect on Social Media!