Sunday, 15 November 2015

Aylin by Ayse Kulin / The Memory Box by Margaret Forster / Song Of The Vampire by K M McFarland

Aylin by Ayşe Kulin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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I received a copy of Aylin by Ayse Kulin from its publishers, Amazon Crossing, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Aylin is an affluent Turkish woman, brilliant and beautiful, but incapable of finding the happiness she craves in her life. The novel begins with her freak death - murder or accident? - before jumping back to her childhood and adolescence, the moving forward through her life. I found it difficult to really get into the story and never particularly cared about Aylin herself because of the way her tale was told. A leading psychologist, she failed to recognise basic destructive behaviour patterns in herself so the novel is essentially her jumping from one marriage to the next, but with no sense of love or emotion. Supporting characters like her sister and niece came across much more convincingly to me, but I thought the male characters were frequently flat.

I am not sure if the distance I felt from the characters was due to Kulin's storytelling style or whether the translation from Turkish was at fault. Certainly much of the book is set in America which disappointed me as I was hoping to read about Turkey. I was baffled by viewpoint switches such as suddenly finding myself reading the innermost thoughts of a mute nun, and spent most of the book feeling that I had missed the point.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Ayse Kulin / Contemporary fiction / Books from Turkey

Memory BoxThe Memory Box by Margaret Forster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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I discovered author Margaret Forster when I swapped for this book at our Lumburn Court campsite near Tavistock. The Memory Box was in a book box in the shower room!

I was interested to see how Forster would develop her premise of a woman discovering her lost mother some thirty years later, through the contents of a gaudy hat box. Catherine's mother, Susannah, died when she was just six months old. Her father remarried and Catherine had always rejected the idea of her birth mother, instead insisting that her stepmother, Charlotte, fulfilled that maternal role perfectly. Knowing she was dying, Susannah carefully chose, wrapped and boxed eleven items instructing that the box be given to Catherine. However, through various circumstances, Catherine didn't get the said box until after her father, stepmother and grandmother had died too. With a prickly aunt being the only person left who actually knew Susannah, Catherine is left unravelling the myth of her perfectly happy mother's perfect life single-handedly.

The Memory Box is an incredibly introspective and introverted novel which is quite unusual and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Catherine examines her own life, seeing her choices differently in the light of what she learns about her biological mother. Forster uses her characters to develop a fascinating discussion of motherhood in its many forms and influences. Did Charlotte's constant presence mould the young Catherine to a greater extent than Susannah's genes? Is Catherine's rejection of close friendships and of motherhood for herself a result of her early abandonment?

For me, this novel was a page turner all the way through and I never lost interest in Catherine's quest. Some of her intuitive jumps were too convenient to be believable which why I have only awarded four stars, however overall I very much enjoyed The Memory Box and look forward to discovering more of Forster's work.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Margaret Forster / Women's fiction / Books from England

Song of the VampireSong of the Vampire by K. M. McFarland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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I received a copy of K M McFarland's vampire trilogy by taking advantage when it was offered for free during the All Hallows Reads Facebook party for Halloween. Song Of The Vampire is the first book in the trilogy and is set in New Orleans, a city I loved when we visited there in Spring 2013. McFarland makes pretty good use of this atmospheric setting and I enjoyed remembering sights such as the St Charles Avenue streetcars and the Mardi Gras bead strings adorning the trees.

Song Of The Vampire is very much a first novel and does have issues with pacing. Some inconsequential scenes are overlong whereas other vital story elements zipped by when much more could have been made of them. I liked the overall story and the untangling of the characters' relationships as each new revelation comes to light. Their dialogue isn't always realistic, especially in mundane conversations, and does go overboard on the lovey-dovey chat - but that might just be my preference! Hopefully, the characterisation will deepen in the next two novels as we discover more about our vampires' lives and world.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by K M McFarland / Fantasy fiction / Books from America

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