So, if you are wondering why it has been a little quiet around here lately, I didn't fall off the face of the earth — but I did take myself off to the Greek island of Rhodes for a week of much-needed R&R in the sunshine.
It was absolute bliss to lie by a pool every day reading books. I took a stash of paperbacks and a fully-loaded Kindle and for seven days straight I devoured book after book. My reading was only broken by the occasional dip in the water, a stroll to the poolside bar for my mid-afternoon G&T and a walk along the beach in the evening.
I read five-and-a-half books:
Gabriel Weston's Dirty Work, a rather claustrophobic story about an abortion provider in London under investigation by the General Medical Council for a procedure that went wrong. (This one is published next month.)
Lionel Shriver's Big Brother, which explores one man's battle with morbid obesity and its impact on him and his family. It features all Shriver's trademark social commentary and biting wit, but it felt a little too contrived and, if you will excuse the pun, heavy handed to me. Still worth reading, though, especially if you are a fan.
Yan Lianke's Dream of Ding Village, an absolutely compelling but very "icky" and nightmarish story about a village in China devastated by the Aids virus. Not exactly a cheerful holiday read, I must say.
Kevin Smith's Jammy Dodger, an uproariously funny story about a literary hoax in 1990s Belfast. This provided some light relief after three dark books in a row! It has recently been longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize.
Chris Ewan's Safe House, an intelligent fast-paced thriller set on the Isle of Man.
I also made very good headway into Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage, which I've been reading all this past week — it's more than 800 pages long — and I have to say I'm absolutely loving it, although it's one of the most heart-breaking novels I've ever read. It's giving Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure a run for its money in the emotion department — and that's really saying something.
So what have you been up to while I've been away? Read any good books? Oh, and I haven't forgotten about The Burial giveaway — I'll announce the winners tomorrow.