Posted by: billpurdue | May 1, 2011

Two recommendations

A few weeks ago I wrote about the local author Roy Bainton and attached an interview to one of the postings. I also featured Roy in the Chad in March. Following that, Roy sent me a copy of his only novel (so far) called The Scrap Run [Emc Press Ltd £11.99 9780955452529, available from lulu.com].  I have now read the book and enjoyed it, though if I’m honest I felt that it was a little on the long side.

 

Apart from the length, it was a book quite different from anything I’ve read for a long time and it’s a book that makes you think. The central character, Macdonald Anderson, is a writer of film scripts – successful and well off and approaching the age when most of us think about retirement. Mac’s wife, Helen, suffered an accident some time previously and never fully recovers. When she dies he is devastated, but also full of anguish about the times when he was unfaithful to her. Helen had become a Buddhist, but Mac had never really taken the trouble to find out more about her beliefs, remaining rather cynical about religion.

 

Then one day he receives a letter from his old friend Archie, suggesting that he might like to take a three month sabbatical by taking a trip on an ageing freighter to the South Sea islands to get away from it all and take stock. The shipping line, Pacific Freight, is owned by a mysterious Thomas Lovelock and from the outset, the whole affair seems distinctly odd. Mac soon discovers that the crew and even the two other passengers , who join the ship later on, seem to know an awful lot about him, much to his annoyance. He fails to get any signal on his mobile or any internet connection. The well read captain has many philosophical discussions with Mac and has a large library of books on board ship. Everyone appears to be familiar with a little book written by Mr Lovelock, which contains various pearls of wisdom.

 

The other two passengers turn out to be stunningly beautiful and Mac is sorely tempted to go back to his old wayward habits. How he reacts to the temptations of the two women is crucial to the outcome of the story. Roy Bainton is clearly drawing on the experiences he gained from his time in the Merchant Navy, during his early years after leaving school, as a basis for the book. I get the feeling that Roy is enjoying telling the reader what life was like in the Merchant Navy during his time at sea and perhaps it’s this indulgence (if I may call it that) that extends the length of the novel.

 

Having said all that, if you want a fascinating novel that goes along at a leisurely pace (but keeps you guessing) and has lots of fascinating asides, then you should enjoy this one, as I did.

 

..and another recommendation.

 

From time to time I meet up with three former colleagues, all of whom worked in Notts libraries. We often make recommendations about books we have read and during our latest meeting, my friend Marilyn had been reading and enjoying The Help by Kathryn Stockett [Penguin £7.99 978-0141039282]. It’s a novel about the extraordinary relationship between three women, set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. There’s Aibileen, the black nanny who raises white children, Minny, the cook and Miss Skeeter, white and just back from college who decides to put together the stories of some of the domestic maids, something which would have been illegal in Mississippi at that time. Toby Clements in the The Telegraph describes at as “at once so horrifying yet so savagely funny”. I think it’s one I need to have a look at myself

 

 

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