Jackz (tsunami_puppet) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

8 and a bit

8. The Paying Guests - Sarah Waters
Pages: 570 (2881)
Blurb: It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in the south of the city, on genteel Champion Hill, in a hushed Camberwell villa still recovering from the devastating losses of the First World War, life is about to be transformed.
Widowed Mrs Wray and her daughter, Frances - an unmarried woman with an interesting past, now on her way to becoming a spinster - find themselves obliged to take in lodgers.
The arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the 'clerk class', brings unsettling things with it: gramophone music, colour, fun. Open doors offer Frances glimpses of the newcomers' habits, sounds travel from their rooms to hers, and the staircase and landing have never seemed to busy.
As she and Lilian are drawn into an unexpected friendship, loyalties begin to shift. Secrets are confessed, dangerous desires admitted; the most ordinary of lives, it seems, can explode into passion and drama. And in the house on Champion Hill, no one can foresee just how far the disturbances will reach.
A love story that is also a crime story, this is vintage Sarah Waters: nail-biting tension, real tenderness, believable characters, and surprises. It is above all a wonderful, compelling tale.
Thoughts: I wasn't sure what to make of this book at first. It felt a bit of a slow-mover, with not really all that much happening. And then it just kicked off. I couldn't put this down in the end as the story was so compelling and kept twisting and turning. While a crime is at the centre of this story, it is told in a completely different perspective and not at all in your typical crime manner. This book is pretty high on my list of favourite books now.

Vikings - Neil Oliver
Blurb: Who were the Vikings and what drove them to embark on such extraordinary voyages of discovery over a thousand years ago? Historian Neil Oliver goes on the trail of the real Vikings, drawing on the latest archaeological and scientific discoveries to reveal the epic story of one of history's greatest empires of conquest.
The Vikings famously took no prisoners and prided themselves on their skills as warriors. But their prowess in battle is only a small part of their amazing story. With a territory stretching from Iceland in the north to the Mediterranean Sea in the south, from Newfoundland in the west to Constantinople and the Caspian Sea in the east, they were warriors and mercenaries of international renown; they were colonisers, builders and engineers. The way modern Europe looks and sounds today is due, in no small part, to the Vikings who turned their backs on their homelands and set sail for distant horizons.
Thoughts: If only I could say this was one of my favourite books. This took me about a year to read. It was a slow, hard slog and unfortunately did not feel like it was worth it. Can't say I learnt anything new from the TV series (which if anything, felt more interesting and detailed than the book!) I'm sure there are more interesting Vikings books out there, this is not one I would recommend.
Tags: british, crime fiction, glbt, history, non-fiction, period fiction (20th century)

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