This week’s reads

Quick reviews…

I’ve whizzed through a few books this week so thought I’d write some quick reviews…

31 Dream Street by Lisa Jewell
In a rambling house, failed poet Toby Dobbs has created a refuge for people who need one. But when a quiet tragedy and an unwelcome letter interrupt Toby’s sedate existence, he needs his housemates to find some direction in their lives. Leah Pilgrim has watched the tenants of the house over the road for several years, and when the owner of 31 Silversmith Road asks her for advice, he opens the door not only to the eccentric building across the street – but to five lives in various stages of turmoil. 

This was a sweet and light-hearted novel, with some great characters. The premise is also a bit different – Toby is given a house by his father, who then disappears. Toby fills it with people who are down on their luck, and then leaves them to it and becomes a bit of a recluse. But then he is left some money from a sitting tenant who insists he uses it to sort out the house and move on. Enter nosy neighbour Leah who brings Toby out of his shell as he gets to know the various tenants and their stories.

Although the premise wasn’t completely believable, and the ending was predictable, this was a nice, light read and I really liked the different characters. A good read for when you need something to lose yourself in and isn’t too challenging, which was perfect for me at the moment!

My rating: 7 out of 10

Driving in the Dark by Deborah Moggach
Desmond never did have much luck with women – except in getting them through their driving tests. Now a coach driver, he is at the most crucial crossroads of his life. His wife has thrown him out. The crisis serves only to deepen his despair over another failed liaison – until he elects to steer his coach on a spectacularly reckless quest for the son he has never seen.

This was a nice, quirky read, following Desmond as he travels around the country in his coach trying to find the son who he has never met. It was a bit different and it was interesting to see what would happen at every stop which turned out to be a dead end.

It apparently started life as a short story and I think this showed towards the end, as it did run out of steam a bit. But another easy read which wasn’t too demanding, and was quite fun along the way.

My rating: 6 out of 10

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, and their six-year-old son. Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. 

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

I enjoyed reading the first half of this novel – although it was slow going at times – and I really enjoyed the contrast between the Cameroonian couple Neni and Jenda, with Jenda’s rich employees Clark and Cindy. The relationships between the four were interesting; although friendly at times, there was always that obvious distance that could never be breached.

Sadly I think the novel ran out of steam in the second half. I felt that everything led up to Clark losing his job at Lehman Brothers and then everything got a bit messy after that and I felt the novel really lost its way and became quite unrealistic.

My rating: 5 out of 10


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