Happy Monday, I come bearing book recs.
Last week, I read The Nightingale for book club, and this weekend I devoured The Trespasser by my favorite currently-writing author. Great reads for early October nights.
This one's been at the top of the NYT list since last year, so I'm a latecomer to the party. I'm a natural-born skeptic, and hesitant to read anything that's all the rage; I generally circle a book like that for a while, sniffing and testing the wind. In this case, the hype was well-deserved.
The novel tells the story of two very different sisters and their journeys of survival in occupied France. In them, we see contrasting, and complimentary kinds of strength; we suffer and grieve alongside them. Hannah's prose is precise and hard-hitting; she pulls back the curtains and shows us the horror of the War in a way that feels visceral and current.
I've always had such a soft spot for great WWII stories, and this one is no exception. I think that War, and the men and women who endured it, show us the highest and lowest points of humanity. It's the full spectrum, packed in a few years. There's something heart-wrenching and hopeful about war stories.
Make sure you have tissues on hand for the last few chapters; it's a tear-jerker.
Tana French's first book, In The Woods, released in 2008, and I've been a fan since. Her Dublin Murder Squad series has all the ingredients of my favorite kind of book: smart, artistic, literary prose; powerful imagery; a subtle attention to human detail; a grounding sort of griminess that keeps it all rooted very much in reality. And I love her characters. I think that's what I love most about her mysteries: the narrator is not merely a set of eyes through which we see the action, but a person we grow to love over the course of the novel, no matter how flawed or prickly.
In The Trespasser, we catch up with Detectives Conway and Moran again, and in a lot of ways I was sad we've already had Steve's book, because I could read another one from his POV. Antoinette is not the heroine for any readers looking for a female lead who is romantic and malleable; I actually quite liked her. Perhaps because I feel like I understand her. But probably because Tana French is just that good. In contrast to Cassie - the other female D we've followed in the past - Antoinette had a very blunt, factual way of looking at the world, not prone to exaggeration...but she wasn't immune to Steve's what-ifs. Not as much as she would hope, anyway.
Dark, and smart, the kind of writing I dream of producing someday in the future, Tana French always delivers, and never fails to remind me why I love to write.