Graham, Lauren (2016) Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between). Ballantine Books. As an intrepid fan of the Gilmore Girls I waited with great anticipation for the Netflix 2016 reboot Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (even got a Netflix subscription so I could view!). Lauren’s (Lorelei) mémoire on growing up, her acting career and Gilmore Girls experiences was awaited with similar expectation, but sadly this lightweight eclectic little tome shared none of the goss and I learnt very little about Lauren the person, other than she is rather like Lorelei in real life. A few amusing anecdotes, but not for me. Rating: 7/10.
Lovell, Mary S (2016) The Riviera Set. Little Brown. In 1930 the American actress Maxine Elliott built a lovely white Art Deco villa on the Cote d’Azur – Chateau de l’Horizon. The villa was a perfect setting for entertaining the rich and famous on a grand scale. The guests, who included Winston Churchill, the Windsors, Noel Coward, Cole Porter and Rita Hayworth, enjoyed glittering hospitality, and after a hiatus during the Second World War the decadence was continued unabated by its subsequent owner, playboy Prince Aly Khan. This well-researched and absorbing exposé provides an insight into the lives of leading personages of the era, and the scandalmongering and gossip that engaged the tabloid press for nearly forty years. Rating: 9/10.
Moriarty, Liane (2014) Big Little Lies. Macmillan. I was captured by the hype of the Reese Witherspoon-Nicole Kidman production but as it could only be viewed on pay TV, I read the book! Pirriwee Public is a perfect little school by the sea, however it is also a hot-bed of schoolyard politics. Big Little Lies follows three friends, each at a crossroads – determined Madeline, beautiful and serene Celeste, and new to town single mum Jane. This nuanced and cleverly rendered story about suburban secrets and lies covers the hard stuff from bullying, gossiping and bitchiness, to domestic abuse. Nonetheless it is more psychological thriller than domestic drama sustaining a suspense throughout. Brilliant – loved it! Rating: 9/10.
Kitamura, Katie (2017) A Separation. Riverhead Books. The narrator, a literary translator (unnamed), reluctantly goes in search of her missing estranged husband, Christopher, at a luxurious resort in remote southern Greece. The trip will enable her to formalise their separation, but as she searches the rugged burnt landscape that is dense with omens, she is taken to breaking point realising she understands little about her relationship and the man she used to love. Intense – full of symbolism and fatalism. To be savoured, but not for the faint-hearted. Rating: 8/10.
Nesbo, Jo (2017) The Thirst. Knopf. Ertswhile maverick Oslo detective, Harry Hole, now lecturer at Police College, is drawn back into the force when a serial murderer begins targeting Tinder daters. Something about the killer’s vampiric M.O. strikes a memory chord with Harry. In a tale that keeps shifting beneath our feet, Harry needs to “come out to play” to hunt for his nemesis, despite all his promises. This 11th Harry Hole thriller is gory, dark and expertly plotted, setting the scene for the next instalment in its final pages. Rating: 8/10.
Lapena, Shari (2016) The Couple Next Door. Bantam Press. Anne and Marco leave their six-month old daughter home alone to party with their next door neighbours. They need some fun and to feel like grown-ups again, and a fretful child isn’t welcome. At the end of the evening when they race up the stairs of their deathly quiet house they find their baby gone. The stuff of every parent’s nightmare. How a small bad decision can upend your life. The police arrive throwing suspicion on them both. The plot of this psychological domestic thriller twists and turns at breakneck speed and just when everything appears to be resolved, it crumbles. Rating: 8/10.