Pushing on after my reviewing slump, I’m having a catch-up so expect a few posts (though there’ll be a mid-week break while I catch up my business blog, currently in the middle of a series about dealing with spam, if you’re at all interested). I’m reading two fabulous books at the moment, so this horrendous sight is diminishing almost as I write this! Even better, they are Books 7 and 8 in my #20BooksOfSummer project, which means I’m keeping nicely up to date with it and won’t have a terrible scramble at the end of August. This one, Book 5, is from the lovely Luci again, at our LibraryThing mini-meet and book buy, back in November.

Natasha Solomons – “The Gallery of Vanished Husbands”

(19 November 2016, from Luci)

Set (or starting) in the 1960s, we follow the story of Juliet Montague, a woman both married and not married living in a conservative Jewish community which holds conforming in the highest regard. Her husband left here a few years ago, but having a husband who’s disappears brings with it an embarrassing and awkward half-status and Juliet feels half-alive as a consequence. Accidentally falling in with a group of artists, she forges her own way in life – daring to be different and even going on a road trip in the US. But can she ever really escape her origins? She remains slightly outside the riotous 60s life, allowing us to observe it from the outside and the inside, and her community, where she still returns to lay her head, sums her up thus: “She was polite but there was pertness in her gaze”.

This was a good read, but I felt that the author was maybe slightly too keen on her subject – unsurprisingly, if you look at the note about her inspiration for her book – she never really comes wholly alive for me, perhaps because she’s a representative cipher and nothing is really allowed to be negative about her. I also felt it suffered a bit in the latter stages from rushing to update us on all the characters. The different tracks of her children’s lives are interesting, as is her daughter’s rebellion in the only way she can find to shock her mother. And I do like the idea of all the portraits of this fairly ordinary woman lining her stairs. Another point in its favour is that it didn’t end as I started to fear it would.

This was Book 5 in my #20BooksOfSummer project.


So I’m loving both Francis Brett Young’s “Black Diamond” and “ReWilding”, which I started to leaf through then couldn’t put down. The latter is being reviewed for Shiny New Books but I’ll make sure I do a summary and a link here so you can all find it easily.