December Round up and Welcome to the 500s!

Another month gone and reviewing time has been hard to come by so it’s another round up here at 746 Books as I finish up 2016!

I did quite a bit of reading this month, but not all from the 746, a habit I need to curb if I want to make any kind of dent in this never-ending pile of books! Having said that, I’ve finally reached the milestone of the 500s by the end of the year with no days to spare, so that’s something!

No 601 Every Dead Thing by John Connolly

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I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get round to reading John Connolly, given my fondness for Irish writers and my love of crime fiction. I’d heard that there was a touch of fantasy in his writing, which I think had put me off, but Every Dead Thing, the first in the Charlie Parker series was a pleasant surprise. Well, I say pleasant – it’s not really a word you would immediately use to describe this vicious, graphic crime novel which is reminiscent of TV shows Hannibal and True Detective in its grisly depiction of torture, murder and serial killers.

Two years ago, Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker’s wife and daughter were graphically murdered by the self-titled Travelling Man. Now a recovering alcoholic, Charlie is taking detective jobs for cash and winds up looking into the disappearance of Catherine Demeter, girlfriend of a well-known crime bosses son. As Charlie hunts for Catherine, he begins to realise that her case and that of the deaths of his own family may be linked and the resurfacing of the Travelling Man brings the case to a head. Every Dead Thing is a busy book, possibly a bloated one. It teems with detailed characters, back stories and tangents and could even be read as two books in one – with Catherine Demeter’s disappearance being solved half way through and the main story returning to focus on the search for the mysterious Travelling Man. The pace never lets up as the body count rises, but Connolly has a knack for capturing a wide canvas in vivid detail and cranking up the thrills (and the gore) past what you might expect.

I’m not sure if I could read another Charlie Parker mystery in the near future, but it is a series I’ll return to again, when I’m in the right mood!

Read on: Book

Number Read: 146

Number Remaining: 600

No 600 Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

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Do you ever have a book you have thought you have read? I think because I have seen the fabulous Olivier/ Fontaine adaptation of Rebecca so many times, I’d come to believe I’d read it at some point!

I’m glad I finally made the time to read Rebecca, as it is a complete masterpiece. Beautifully written and hauntingly thrilling, I simply couldn’t put it down and was intrigued by this tale of jealousy, self-doubt and murder. The names Manderlay and Rebecca may be embedded in the collective memory by now, but the book focuses on a nameless narrator, the second Mrs. De Winter. As famous a character as Jane Eyre or Catherine Earnshaw, we don’t even know her name. The novel’s nameless young narrator marries the older Maxim de Winter after a whirlwind romance in the South of France and returns to live with him in his opposing estate Manderlay where she is filled with fear and self-doubt due to the abiding presence of his first wife Rebecca, who drowned in a boating accident. The imposing housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers does not help the situation and Du Maurier wonderfully captures that fear of the rival – the more beautiful, more accomplished woman who came first and cannot be replaced.

In Du Maurier’s sure hand, Rebecca is as much alive as any other character in the novel and that is what makes our narrator’s plight so vivid. We, the reader are intrigued by her enigmatic presence that pervades every page, as it does every moment of the second Mrs. De Winter’s life.

Billed as a gothic romance, Rebecca is actually a very accomplished psychological thriller, incredibly well- plotted and drawing the reader in to the extent that when the truth of what happened to Rebecca is revealed, we are ourselves complicit by siding with the first Mrs. De Winter.

What I most loved about the book though is the wonderful depiction of how jealousy and a lack of self-worth can eat away at a person until they could come to destroy the very thing they love the most.

I wondered if I had said the wring thing. Perhaps it did not do to apologise. Perhaps it lowered me in his estimation. I wished I knew what to say, what to do. I wondered if he suspected, as Mrs. Danvers had done, that poise and grace , and assurance were not qualities inbred in me, but were things to be acquired, painfully perhaps, and slowly, costing me many bitter moments.

The second Mrs. de Winter is an insightful study in youth, inexperience and lack of confidence.

Where the book also differs, for the better in my opinion, from its famous movie adaptation, is in the seed of doubt that is planted about what happened to Rebecca. Was she a cruel, vicious woman? In the film we are never in doubt, but in the book, the only proof we have of this comes from the often cold and bullying Maxim. Everyone loves Rebecca, so who was pretending? Rebecca or her husband?

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Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier in Hitchcock’s 1940 adaptation

 

The power of this novel comes from the questions it refuses to answer and the ambiguities that give it a depth and fascination that almost requires repeat reading.

Read On: Book

Number Read: 147

Number Remaining: 599

So, there we have it. I’m into the 500s before the end of 2016 – just! I wonder how close to the 400s I can get before the end of 2017!

I hope you all have a very Happy New Year and here’s to another great year of reading and blogging ahead!

x

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45 thoughts on “December Round up and Welcome to the 500s!

    • Yes Ali, that’s what I loved about it. I actually kind of liked Rebecca as a character and got to wondering about her much more. How could everyone love her and yet she be so cruel? Plus, I thought Mrs Danvers was much more humanised in the novel.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I want to like Rebecca as a story, as it is so well-written. However–The underlying fact that the husband is abusive (psychological bullying and the murderer aspect) really bothers me. Her other books are definitely worth a go. She is adept at mystery and drama.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t read Rebecca yet! Why?! Oh yes, it’s because there are 400-ish books on my TBR and new ones published every week! 🙂 But I do intend to read it one day! Knowing how you loved it makes it all the more attractive. Congrats on getting into the 500s!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These both sound like very good book… but quite hard to read, or am I mistaken? I’m particularly intrigued by ‘Rebecca’.
    Sorry I haven’t visited much lately, but you’r enot forgotten. I love your blog and your reviews.

    And happy new year 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy New Year to you too Cathy 🙂 I am so pleased to hear you enjoyed Rebecca so much – it is definitely one of my favourite books of all time! I think you’ve summed it up wonderfully with ‘beautifully written and hauntingly thrilling’. And while I love the film too, I agree the ambiguity of the books is even better 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been trying to get the kids to read Rebecca. I read the first part with Isabel (to help her with the close reading part of her GCSE exam) but didn’t get much beyond that. It was good to be reminded of how atmospheric and compelling it was though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve read the book, but my memory of the film is really vague – time to drag out the Hitchcock box set! My ex adored Jamaica Inn – as soon as he finished it, he started it again; he was like that with books. I couldn’t do that! I’m a bit of a John Connolly fan, but I’ve fallen behind since I started blogging. I’m at The Lovers at the moment, which is no. 8 from 14 – must catch up! Congrats on hitting the 500s – as I look at the books piled around me, you are indeed my inspiration! There’s hope for us all, right?!

    Liked by 1 person

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