Friday, 3 May 2019

My Five Last Reads by Helen Cullen

As part of The Lost Letters of William Woolf blog tour, may I present Helen Cullen's five last reads. 
Everything You Ever Wanted by Luiza Sauma - out this June with Viking.
Book Summary 
You wake up. You go to work. You don't go outside for twelve hours at a time. You have strategy meetings about how to use hashtags. After work you order expensive drink after expensive drink until you're so blackout drunk you can't remember the circumstances which have led you to waking up in bed with your colleague. The next day you stay in bed until the afternoon, scrolling through your social media feeds and wondering why everyone else seems to be achieving so much. Sometimes you don't get out of bed at all.

Then you hear about Life on Nyx, a programme that allows 100 lucky winners the chance to escape it all, move to another planet and establish a new way of life. One with meaning and purpose. One without Instagram and online dating. There's one caveat: if you go, you can never come back.

But you aren't worried about that.

After all, what on Earth could there possibly be to miss?

Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley
Published by Harper in January 
Book Summary
The lives of two close-knit couples are irrevocably changed by an untimely death in the latest from Tessa Hadley, the acclaimed novelist and short story master who “recruits admirers with each book” (Hilary Mantel).

Alexandr and Christine and Zachary and Lydia have been friends since they first met in their twenties. Thirty years later, Alex and Christine are spending a leisurely summer’s evening at home when they receive a call from a distraught Lydia: she is at the hospital. Zach is dead.

In the wake of this profound loss, the three friends find themselves unmoored; all agree that Zach, with his generous, grounded spirit, was the irreplaceable one they couldn’t afford to lose. Inconsolable, Lydia moves in with Alex and Christine. But instead of loss bringing them closer, the three of them find over the following months that it warps their relationships, as old entanglements and grievances rise from the past, and love and sorrow give way to anger and bitterness.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Book Summary
Wide Sargasso Sea, a masterpiece of modern fiction, was Jean Rhys’s return to the literary center stage. She had a startling early career and was known for her extraordinary prose and haunting women characters. With Wide Sargasso Sea, her last and best-selling novel, she ingeniously brings into light one of fiction’s most fascinating characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan
Book Summary
Britain has lost the Falklands war, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. In a world not quite like this one, two lovers will be tested beyond their understanding.
Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative 1980s London. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first batch of synthetic humans. With Miranda’s assistance, he co-designs Adam’s personality. This near-perfect human is beautiful, strong and clever – a love triangle soon forms. These three beings will confront a profound moral dilemma. Ian McEwan’s subversive and entertaining new novel poses fundamental questions: what makes us human? Our outward deeds or our inner lives? Could a machine understand the human heart? This provocative and thrilling tale warns of the power to invent things beyond our control.

Constellations by Sinead Gleeson 
Book Summary
I have come to think of all the metal in my body as artificial stars, glistening beneath the skin, a constellation of old and new metal. A map, a tracing of connections and a guide to looking at things from different angles. 

How do you tell the story of life that is no one thing? How do you tell the story of a life in a body, as it goes through sickness, health, motherhood? And how do you tell that story when you are not just a woman but a woman in Ireland? In these powerful and daring essays, Sinead Gleeson does that very thing. In doing so she delves into a range of subjects: art, illness, ghosts, grief, and our very ways of seeing. In writing that is in tradition of some of our finest writers such as Olivia Laing, Maggie O'Farrell, and Maggie Nelson, and yet still in her own spirited, warm voice, Gleeson takes us on a journey that is both personal and yet universal in its resonance.
****
The Lost Letters of William Woolf is published this week by Penguin
Summary 
Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries: Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names - they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers.

When William discovers letters addressed simply to 'My Great Love' his work takes on new meaning. Written by a woman to a soulmate she hasn't met yet, the missives stir William in ways he didn't know were possible. Soon he begins to wonder: Could William be her great love?

William must follow the clues in Winter's letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.

To find out more about Helen Cullen: 
If you want to follow the rest of the blog tour, here are all the stops. 









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