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Fishbowl and The Truth and Other Lies

the-truth-and-other-lies-blue                                    fishbowl

I have been very slow posting this and I do apologise! We had such a long Summer break that I fell out of the habit of Book Club blogging but we are back! The dark winter nights will soon be upon us so we can cwtsh under our blankets and duvets and not feel too guilty about indulging ourselves into hours of pleasure with our next choices of great reads!! Having said that, our first choice after our break is proving rather difficult! A big book with small print!


But first things first. It was lovely to get together again in September at the Celtic Lodge even though we weren’t many. It was a lovely evening so we sat out on the patio and had some fine food and drink.

celtic-food-2 the decker burger

celtic-foodor maybe a ham and cheese panini!!

And then to discussing the books!! It was quite clear that of the two Summer Reads – Fish Bowl and The Truth and Other Lies, that Fishbowl won hands down!!

fishbowl-titleWhat a great little book!! We would all recommend this to readers out there as it was quirky, sweet, well written with some gloriously unusual characters hiding such startling secrets whilst living virtually in each other’s pockets in a block of flats so regally named, The Seville on Roxy. I found this review on the Waterstone’s site which I thought I’d share with you!! It mirrors my thoughts exactly.

“It is a book to enjoy; I implore you to do just that.”

This book exudes joy, life, resilience and hope

Everything, from the gorgeous cover, bright orange and with terrific typography and evocative artwork, to the wonderful fish cartoon that tumbles down the pages as they are flicked, is beautifully presented. And the important thing, the story on the pages contained within, is just as wonderfully fabulous.

I’m a little unsure how to categorize this book or how best to concisely describe the plot. The subtitle of “Fishbowl” is “what the goldfish saw as he fell from the 27th floor” and that, pretty much, is it in a nutshell. Or, in this case, that should be “in a bowl”. Oh, and what a brilliant bowl Somer has created.

The goldfish, Ian, glimpses brief snatches and moments in the lives of the occupants of the Seville on Roxy as he undertakes his terrifying fall from the 27th floor of the building. The residents, each living separate lives removed from that of their immediate neighbours and often in complete isolation, are drawn together as the novel progresses. Bradley Somer, has created a memorable cast of characters in this whimsical, warm and funny, moving and beautifully crafted book that delights and charms in abundance.

The chapter titles are magnificent in their own little way, each one a tantalizing and charming prelude to the joys that lie ahead. The writing is crisp and sharp, eloquent and provocative, funny and sad. This book is a delight to read.

It is a book to enjoy; I implore you to do just that.

And it was!

truthI enjoyed the Truth and Other Lies but it had paled into insignificance by September!! It was the first of the 2 books I read therefore the freshness and hilarity of Fishbowl was still vivid in my mind and everyone present found the same. They had read the book at the beginning of the summer, then slept, then read another, and slept, went on holiday and slept until this poor book became a distant memory! However, I must add that I enjoyed it and would recommend it. The novel was dark and twisty but we all agreed that the characters were not likeable and it then becomes difficult to enjoy a book if you cannot relate to the people painting the canvas! Henry Hayden, the central character, has a happy fulfilling life. He is a successful author with a number of best sellers to his name; one of his titles had been made into a film; and his marriage to Martha was a happy one. But soon Henry’s life begins to unravel in an alarming fashion when we find out that it has been built entirely on a lie, one he shared with his wife Martha, who is a very insignificant character in book! But like all lies, one leads to another and another until the string becomes so tightly woven, you begin to suffocate and flounder in your web. It’s an Ok book. It reminded me a lot of the Talented Mr. Ripley books. It’s cleverly written and will keep you in suspense but it is very easily forgotten!

Kate’s thoughts on the book:-

  • The book has many merits in that it is a gripping story which holds your attention and I was eager to discover the outcome and consequently enjoyed reading it; however the style of writing is distinctly average although some of its literary merit may have been lost in the translation. Basically it’s a straightforward crime thriller with a few interesting twists, however after the initial surprise of the first murder scene, I thought the plot became somewhat predictable and lacked suspense, the writing was distinctly average and the characterization sketchy and sometimes far fetched; for example would Gisbert Fasch have given up his years of obsessive research in a lifelong quest for revenge just because Henry took him to hospital and bought him a private room? Henry of course was the master of cunning manipulation and this book too explores the concepts of good and evil although most of Henry’s kind acts were solely for the purpose of worming his way into the affections of his acquaintances so that they would fall prey to his scheming manipulation and unsuspectingly carry out his wishes to protect him in a smokescreen of the truth even if that meant killing on his behalf.
    Henry could be charming and displayed some acts of random kindness but that belied his chillingly ruthless streak which would stop at nothing to preserve his self interest; he showed very little if any emotion when those closest to him died and he was callously prepared to sacrifice his own unborn child in the interests of self preservation and seemingly experienced no feelings of guilt or loss whatsoever.
    I was disappointed with the weak ending and felt as though the author had lost interest in the book and just wanted to finish it all off as quickly as possible which led to a sudden and unsatisfactory ending to the plot, in my eyes anyway. However I think we have been spoilt recently by reading books which have appealed on so many different levels; if you’re looking for a straightforward crime thriller with a gripping story line which holds your attention and turns up a few unexpected dark twists and surprises, then this book will definitely fit the bill.

So our next book is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. 

We will be meeting once again at the Celtic Lodge on Wednesday, October 12th. Please come along if you would like to join us.