Following on from last month's introduction to what we're reading comes another delightful and rather varied selection of what the Virago team have been reading this month…
I have to confess that I really fall for books with quirky/odd titles and covers and The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson definitely has both. The book’s plot is just as oddball as its title and follows slipper clad Allan Karlsson as he escapes through the window of his nursing home and shuffles off on a somewhat perilous (for those who encounter him anyway) and absolutely hilarious, quite madcap journey through Sweden, picking up the most unlikely cohorts along the way. Throughout Allan’s journey, the reader also learns about his history, and his “right place (or in many cases, very wrong), right time” luck which has led to his involvement in everything from the creation of the first nuclear bomb in America to political uprisings in Bali and China to the first-hand sampling of the delights of a Russian gulag. This book is devilishly funny and incredibly sharp. Its story packs much more of a punch than expected and each character is extremely well crafted and unique. I was genuinely upset that the book had to end! However, it is impossible to feel anything but happy after reading it.
- Naomi Doerge, Publicity Assistant
When I read that Stylist had quoted Daughter of Smoke and Bone as ‘Northern Lights and Pan’s Labyrinth in one’ – I was already hooked. The idea of fantastical worlds colliding with our own isn’t new but Laini Taylor’s world building is both beautiful and haunting. Seventeen year old Karou is our heroine, art student in Prague in the human world yet also errand girl to Brimstone, a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Brimstone trades in teeth, for reasons that Karou still doesn’t understand, and his shop resides not in our world but in ‘Elsewhere’ a place that is neither here nor there. Karou doesn’t know how she came to be and is plagued by the idea that she might not be whole. With the secret doors to Elsewhere closing, Karou must decide between her human life or the war-ravaged world that might hold answers to who she really is. This is a gripping, unique tale wonderfully visualised and brought to life. It’s the first instalment to what promises to be a fascinating trilogy.
- Hollie Smyth, Marketing Executive
Nora Ephron is famous for many things, most notably her films – When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle – and her wonderful novel Heartburn. But this collection of short pieces, mainly written for newspapers and magazines over the years, shows off her sharp wit, keen eye for the absurd and her absolute class. It’s full of gems about so many things: being a woman, negotiating relationships and break ups, what it’s like to live in New York, and her love of cooking, that ring true whatever your age. But she’s not just funny – every so often you come across a sentence that you stumble on for its haunting truth. The last chapter in which Ephron, by now inured to the changes age has brought about, looks forward to reaching her eighties with her husband is particularly sad when read now, just months after her death at the age of seventy-one. So read this, if you haven’t already. You’ll be so glad you did.
- Victoria Pepe, Junior Commissioning Editor
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