In 2013, the age of Instant Messaging, texting, face-iThingy, etc…, how many of us really know or speak to our neighbours anymore? Would you notice if two teenage girls were living with abusive and irresponsible parents? Would you notice if those parents were to disappear? Well, luckily for you, Lisa O’Donnell explores this conundrum in her debut novel, The Death of Bees. Set in present day Glasgow, O’Donnell presents the reader with Nelly and Marnie – two teenage girls growing up in some of the worse conditions imaginable. Their situation gets exponentially more precarious when their parents die, and they are suddenly left to fend for themselves. Don’t worry, I didn’t just give away a spoiler – you know this happens right from the get go. Marnie and Nelly’s quest for survival from both death, and the social services is the main focus of the story and along the way, we meet a host of interesting characters that intersect with Marnie and Nelly.
O’Donnell’s narrative is split between 3 people, and each one provides a different view point of events. At first it was a little jarring to read through the eyes of Nelly, as she has a very particular way of speaking. However, you soon get used to it and it really provides character. The amount of time spent on each narrative is perfect; you never once feel like you’ve been spending too long reading as one character. The language used by the characters is not pretty – but then life isn’t always pretty – it is honest, sparse, and real.
If you’re looking for your next unique read, I would highly recommend this one. It runs the gauntlet of emotions (it will even make you feel physically sick at one point!) and does not let up, but at the same time, it isn’t depressing for the sake of being depressing. There is light amongst these characters and it shines just as often as it is put out. It is a relatively short read, so if you can read it in one sitting, or even two, then that would be the way to do it so that you don’t lose the rhythm of the narration.
You can get this fresh, unique and honest story here – The Death of Bees: A Novel
I’m not a fan of short stories. Not a fan at all. I generally think that they can always include more, and I’m never satisfied with the outcome. I held this opinion upon opening up the first pages of Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, but was soon proved that this collection would defy my firmly held stances on the genre of short stories.
This collection by Richard Yates (perhaps most famous for his debut novel Revolutionary Road) contains 11 stories that each deal with the theme of loneliness and the different ways in which it manifests. Yates is an author that really understands the intricacies of human nature. He has the ability to write a story in which the circumstances you may never have experienced in your life, but somehow, you completely understand where the character is coming from, and you can actually feel what they are feeling. In a lesser author’s hand, these stories could easily be turned into sentimental sob stories that possess a real “I’m a victim” type attitude. However, Yates understands that no one is perfect, and that human emotion is raw and gritty.
The only other author that I can think of that even comes to close to representing the complexities of human behaviour, is Jody Picoult. Imagine Picoult’s style of realism, but take away the occasional romance and sentimentality, and you have Yates. The controversial elements of Picoult’s stories are also present in the stories of Yates. However, Yates was writing in the 1960’s, not 2013 where we have the benefit of contemporary psychological analysis and the freedom to write what we want. This is why the reader can really connect with Yates’ stories; the true definition of a timeless author.
If you really like stories that reflect real life, stories that you can connect to, and you don’t mind being depressed for the next few hours, then give Yates a go. If you are looking for escapism and feel good stories, then Yates is most definitely for you! ~ Pegasus.
You can buy this collection here (along with his famous debut novel): Revolutionary Road, The Easter Parade, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness (Everyman’s Library (Cloth))
This book was an audible deal of the day recently, so I’ve heard it mentioned quite a bit in the last few days, so I decided to revisit it and post my review….I just read it for the first time a month or so ago…and it really left me feeling a bit hopeless…
Okay, let us all travel down “The Road” for just a moment…it’s a dark and dreary road to be sure, but it is a road that I did, in fact, travel down with Mr McCarthy…This might be a book I need to come back and revisit and perhaps re-rate as well (I don’t usually post my star ratings, but this one received a 3). The writing style was hard to catch on to at first. I hated the dialogue formatting. It was something that I could follow, but at the same time, in my mind I always took a moment to be annoyed with it!! Very distracting. Depressing books don’t bother me. I actually enjoy them most of the time…I know….depressing, eh? Bwhahahahahahahahaha. But seriously, where was the hope in this one? Where was the light at the end suppose to shine? I seriously hate Hollywood endings, but as depressing as Water World & Mad Max were, at least in the end you were able to see a glimpse of what the world might become….here? I saw not even a flicker of light….I saw nothing as to what the world might become….I suppose as much as this book left me with unanswered questions (let me just point out, I freaking love books without a pretty bow wrapped ending, my favorite books are those that give the reader just enough for the reader to imagine the ending….or in many cases, the start of the rest of the story that will go on and on) the main question I am left with is this….which McCarthy book shall I read next? I need to know if all of his books are written such as this…….SEE!!!!!!!!! I told you I was into depression…..bwhahahahahahahahaha….Seriously, I have heard some great things about Cormac McCarthy….there are a few books of his that I REALLY want to read…and I want to read them soon….”Blood Meridian” and “No Country for Old Men” are two books that I think about often and really want to make the time to read…..Has anyone reading this read either of them? Have you read “The Road”? How do they compare? Who dares to help me out here?
Be sure to watch for my upcoming review of “The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling
~ Urania xx
Buy It Now The Road