May Reads: Book Reviews

Ancient Light John Banville

I started off so well in May, powering through 2 books within days and then … I got stuck! I had to happen sooner or later. Unfortunately the book that I got stuck on was a review book for an online book club so I felt duty bound to plod on.

Ancient Light: John Banville

Its always a bad sign when the blurb on the front of a book talks about ‘sadness and yearning’. Alarm bells should have started ringing that this might be a book full of words and not much action. A very brief description of the book is: 60 year old retired actor, Alexander Cleave reminices about an affair he had at the age of 15 with his best friend’s mum. Alexander is mourning the loss of his only child, a daughter, Cass. The story switches between present day, his involvement with a theatre production and 45 years ago, at the time of the affair.

It is very obvious from the start that John Banville loves language. I just felt that the book was very indulgent – he seemed to want to use as many obscure words as possible. He frequently went off on a tangent in a way that did not enhance the story at all to me.

There did not seem to be anything at all happening. I have just found out, however, that this is the third in a trilogy. I would surmise then, that the author expects us to have already read the first two. This would explain why the daughter’s death and Alexander’s relationship with his wife are not delved into more deeply in Ancient Light. Not sure I will be rushing to read the first 2 books to clear anything up though.

1 star out of 5 I’m afraid.

I read this book as part of the BritMums Book Club.

I will now happily be able to get back to reading And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini which I am completely in love with.

Other Books from the month of May are:

The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans: M.L. Stedman

This is a most beautiful book. Grabbed me from the very start. I love lighthouses but even if I didn’t, I would have still loved this book.

A couple live a very isolated life as lighthouse keepers on an island off the coast of Australia. After many years of trying for a baby, a boat is washed up containing the dead body of a man and a newborn live baby girl.

The author, M.L. Stedman is so clever in getting the reader to really care about the couple. I argued with myself so many times during reading the book about what I wanted to happen and what I thought should happen.

Even the end of the book (I don’t want to say too much about it and spoil it) was a joy. Everything was sewn up but it didn’t feel forced and it wasn’t how I expected it to end.

An incredibly easy 5 out of 5 stars – in fact I wish I could read it all over again for the first time.

Sealed with a kiss Rachael Lucas

Sealed With A Kiss – Rachael Lucas

I had seen links to this book all over Twitter and on impulse decided to download it. Rachael is prolific on Twitter and I am a reader of her blog. Pressure on then – what if I didn’t enjoy the book? No worries, I loved it! Set on a remote island of the coast of Scotland – its all been about remote islands this month ;-), this is a true romantic read. I’ve not read any chick-lit for ages and this was a welcome return. Very enjoyable and a quick read.

4 out of 5 stars

So what have you been reading this month? Have you ever got stuck on a book (as opposed to getting stuck in a book!) Did you persevere or give up?


  1. says

    I have read Sealed with a Kiss and enjoyed it too for what it is – no complaints at all.
    I was quite polite and gave 2 stars to Ancient Light but in reality it probably didn’t deserve them! I was bored.

    • Helen says

      Ha! I love that you were good mannered in your book review (which was a great review by the way!) It was one of the most boring books I’ve ever got all the way through. Who would like that man in real life?

  2. Victoria Murray says

    I haven’t read any of these but ‘The Light Between Oceans’ sounds interesting. I also want to read ‘Honour’ which you reviewed before. I’m reading ‘Various Pets Alive & Dead’ by Marina Lewycka which I am enjoying and I’ve just finished ‘How To Be Good’ by Nick Hornby which generated some lively discussion at our book club. I love reading but don’t always make time for it.

    • Helen says

      I struggle for reading time too – seems like its the first thing to suffer if I’m very busy. I couldn’t get along with Tractors in Ukranian – is the Pets book similar?

  3. says

    I’ve read light between and sealed with a kiss and liked them both. Ancient light didn’t appeal at all. And I asked just this question about getting stuck on twitter yesterday and nearly drowned in responses!

    • Helen says

      There must be a recognised name for getting stuck on a book – its incredibly hard to power on through but an amazing sense of achievement.

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