We Are Reading

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.”

Garrison Keiller

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

A simply beautiful, haunting read. A teenage girl on holiday goes missing in the hills during midwinter in the early years of this century, but while the search for the missing girl goes on, so does everyday life. This latest novel from Nottingham’s Jon McGregor tells the story of the many lives affected by one family’s loss; of the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside. Hardback, Fourth Estate, £14.99

(Buy now from www.nottinghambooks.co.uk)

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

Set in 1988, the story is about Frank who owns a music shop in shambling Unity Street, an unloved corner of the city, selling only vinyl records. Frank knows everything about music and always finds his customers the music they need, but doesn’t know what he needs himself.

Then into his life walks Ilse Brauchmann, a strangely still, mysterious woman with her pea-green coat and her eyes as black as vinyl, who asks Frank to teach her about music. Ilse has her own problems and Frank has a past he will never leave behind, but what follows is a delightful story about the redemptive power of music.

It is a story about the triumph of a quiet hero, about learning how to listen and how to feel and about second chances and choosing to be brave despite the odds. Above all, it is about the power of music to bring us back to life.  It has been described as “nostalgic,warm and sentimental” and if you liked Rachel Joyce’s previous novels, you’ll enjoy this.  Hardcover, Transworld, £14.99

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Set in WWll in Germany and in France, the narrative revolves around two main characters, Marie-Laure, a blind young French girl and Werner, an orphan growing up in Germany. Marie-Laure’s father works for the Museum of Natural History in Paris keeping prize exhibits safe, but when war breaks out, he and his daughter flee to St.Malo to stay with an eccentric relative.  Meanwhile, in Germany, Werner is growing up in an orphanage with his younger sister.  He displays an amazing talent for building radio receivers and his skill earns him a place in the Hitler Youth Academy,  a brutal regime that sets the most able against the weakest.  From the start, it is clear that at some point their paths will cross and that the meeting will have significance.

This is an enthralling story and beautifully written.  The San Francisco Chronicle noted Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” and indeed the descriptions of the world Marie-Laure imagines in her blindness are quite lovely, while the light we cannot see is a fitting metaphor for the way in which, despite the circumstances, there is goodness in some people that defies the horror of war surrounding them. This is specially recommended by Eve as a worthy winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2015 and as a “book of rare excellence that will appeal to men and women and to all who appreciate wonderful writing”. Paperback, HarperCollins, £8.99