Jan’s Summer Reads

Gruen, Sara (2010)  Ape House.  Allen & Unwin.  Dr. Isabel Duncan studies and cares for six bonobos, members of the ape family who have mastered sign language and can understand English. The bonobos are like family to her. The bonobos are sold to a porn producer who puts them on a television reality show.  Isabel sets about to rescuing them.  Does not have the depth or charm of Water for Elephants.  Good holiday read. Rating: 7.5/10

Gruen, Sara (2006) Water for elephants.  Allen & Unwin. The novel centres on Jacob Jankowsk’s experiences in a travelling circus  in 1930s.  While most of the story is about circus life, the chapters about the older Jacob provide a depth to the novel and a poignancy to the story that makes the whole book richer. Gruen has researched circuses and animal behavior extensively.  Thoroughly enjoyable.  Shortly to be released as a movie. Rating: 9/10.

Mones, Nicola (1999) Lost in translation.  Bantam Dell.  Often confused with the movie of the same name Mones’ book is the story of  Alice Mannegan who becomes involved in an archealogical expedition  to find the remains of Peking Man.  What starts as a trek into the remote deserts of northwest China, following clues left by famed archeologist and Jesuit priest/theologian Teilhard de Chardin, turns into a journey of the heart.  Although it feels dated (China of the early 1990s)  and lacks the charm of The Last Chinese Chef it nonetheless is an entertaining read. Rating: 7.5/10

Morais, Richard C (2010) The Hundred-Foot Journey.  Allen & Unwin.   A tale of amazing food, cultural difference and Michelin Stars  from Mumbai to Paris.  The Haji family takes the small village of Lumiere in France by storm as they open an inexpensive Indian restaurant over the road from esteemed Michelin chef Madame Mallory.  Full of drama. Charmng.  Rating: 7.5/10

Walker, Martin (2010) Black diamond. Quercus. A new case for St Denis’ incomparable Chief of Police, Captain Bruno Courreges, in the third instalment of this engaging series set in rural France.   Always a pleasure, Rating: 8/10.

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