This Is Life

This Is Life

Dan Rhodes

First Sentence:     Aurélie Renard was standing on the west side of the small square.

Back of the book:

In Paris, art student Aurélie Renard throws a stone and sets in motion a chain of events that will turn her life upside down.

Suddenly finding herself in sole charge of a stranger’s baby, and with no idea how babies work, it’s only thanks to the help of her adoring professor and her gun-toting heartbreaker of a best friend that Aurélie Renard is able to navigate her way through the most extraordinary and calamitous seven days of her life.

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Under The Skin

under-the-skin-

Michel Faber

First Sentence:     Isserley always drove straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up.

Back of the book:

Isserley spends most of her time driving. But why is she so interested in picking up hitch-hikers? And why are they always male, well-built and alone? An utterly unpredictable and macabre mystery, Michel Faber’s debut novel is an outstanding piece of fiction that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.

Quote from the book:

As soon as he’d entered her car and sat down, Isserley sensed he was trouble. It was as if the laws of physics were unsettled by his presence; as if the electrons in the air were suddenly vibrating faster, until they were ricocheting around the confines of the cabin like crazed invisible insects.

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A Tale for the Time Being

A Tale for the Time Being

Ruth Ozeki

First Sentence:     Hi!

Back of the book:

Within the pages of this book lies the diary of a girl called Nao. Riding the waves of a tsunami, it is making its way across the ocean. It will change the life of the person who finds it. It might just change yours, too.

Quotes from the book:

‘I believe it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you can find something concrete to keep you busy while you are living your meaningless life.’

I was still thinking about what she said about waves, and it made me sad because I knew that her little wave was not going to last much longer and soon she would join the sea again, and even though I know you can’t hold on to water, still I gripped her little fingers a little more tightly to keep her from leaking away.

‘Sometimes when she told stories about the past her eyes would get teary from all the memories she had, but they weren’t tears. She wasn’t crying. They were just the memories, leaking out.’

She says the mark of new cool is no hits for your name. No hits is the mark of how deeply unfamous you are, because true freedom comes from being unknown.

‘I have to hurry up and write them down before I forget. I have a pretty good memory, but memories are time beings, too, like cherry blossoms or ginkgo leaves; for a while they are beautiful, and then they fade and die.’

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Pereira Maintains

Antonio Tabucchi

First Sentence: Pereira maintains he met him one summer’s day.

This book was one of those books that I thought was good, almost great, with much to admire, but just not enough to really stand out in my mind for very long after I’d finished it. Even though it’s a relatively short book, coming in at just under 200 pages, it almost feels like it would have worked better as a short story or a novella. That’s not to say this is not a good book, it is. But ultimately I feel it’s one I won’t be going back to, nor would I be in a hurry to hunt out more from Tabucchi. The story itself is one man’s testimony about events that happened to him during a sweltering  Summer in Portugal. The year is 1938 and it is set against a backdrop of social and political unrest. Pereira himself is quite likeable, despite his constant need for Omelette aux fines herbes and lemonade, his likeability almost in jeopardy by the constant refrain of  ‘he maintains’ which dominates the prose. He is solely responsible for the arts section in national newspaper the Lisboa, is forever speaking to his dead wife’s photograph and by all accounts, is a lovable recluse. This is all before he meets the young journalist Monteiro Rossi who, along with his girlfriend Marta will transform Pereira into an altogether different person. I do like this book, and I’d certainly recommend it, especially of you have interest in the particular period of history, but I just feel it falls a little short of the mark on a few crucial levels. Enjoyable but not essential

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