November was a fabulous month of reading. I easily breezed through two lengthier tombs by two of my favorite well-established authors and was not let down. I interjected these weightier books for a short soliloquy on routine written by an up and coming Japanese author. We’ll start with that one:
Convenience Store Woman is a very odd duck story. It skims the surface over a number of character quirks in Keiko, a 36 year old woman living in Tokyo. These have served to isolate her from her family or build any normal relationships; she comes off as borderline autistic. The monotony and routine and easily followed behavioral manual at the convenience store job harness her to the real world, and she learns to mimic other’s cues as to how to respond in various conversations and situations. A person arises to pull her away from this comforting life, and she quickly has to grapple with what makes her most happy. Had it been any longer, it could’ve been boring and tiresome, but it’s easy to come away understanding how important it is to go down one’s own path and not compare life choices to others.
One of my newly favorite authors over this last year has been Tana French. Her latest novel pulls away from any of her past detective protagonist and instead builds a mystery within a family drama. I especially enjoyed the book for this reason.
Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.
A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are. -Amazon
On the other hand, keeping her detective through line, J.K. Rowling aka Robert Galbraith has another novel out and I loved it! Her writing is rich in character development and current cultural zeitgeist. There’s a bit of British politics in the background as well.
When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.
Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott—once his assistant, now a partner in the agency—set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.
And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been—Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much trickier than that.
The most epic Robert Galbraith novel yet, Lethal White is both a gripping mystery and a page-turning next installment in the ongoing story of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. -Amazon
Next month, I hope to get to the latest Murakami novel, as I’m anticipating a couple biographies too.