I have, however, managed to fit in a few good reads I’d like to share with you. The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse, You Choose by Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt, and Us by David Nicholls.
Full of atmosphere and chilling events, The Taxidermist’s Daughter is a beautifully written, gothic horror. Set in Sussex in 1912 and written across just one summer, it tells the story of Connie Gifford, the daughter of a taxidermist. Her father’s business is all but run into the ground due to his addiction to alcohol which he uses to escape from his past. Connie is just about keeping the business afloat under the guise of her fathers’ name.
During one particular summers evening, Connie decides to follow her father on one of his midnight jaunts and what she witnesses chills her to the bone.
A few days later, a body washes up from the stream at the bottom of her garden and her father disappears.
Her disbelief at her father’s involvement in what is clearly a murder case Connie tries to find evidence to prove her fathers innocence, only the arrival of Harry Woolston offers a welcome distraction.
It soon becomes clear that Connie and Harry’s involvement goes beyond their own relationship, when they find out that their father’s met more than a decade before. When Harry’s father goes missing too, they start to uncover a long-hidden, dark secret, encompassing both Connie’s and Harry’s families.
The book anthropomorphises the image of the bird in such a way that it encompasses the entire story. The story begins with Connie dissecting and stuffing a bird in her workshop; throughout the book the bird is used as signify death or trouble, with them gathering in trees or on roofs close to significant events; whilst I won’t spoil the ending, the book ends with an obvious and sinister aversion to birds as well.
The weather is also a key player in this atmospheric thriller. Gradually getting worse and more deadly alongside the heightening of the storyline before climaxing in a devastating storm with fatal consequences.
Although predictable, this book deserves the time that you’ll undoubtedly devote to it. It’s an exploration of culture, art, relationships and family, and ultimately shows the lengths that the characters will go to, to protect their loved ones.
Both of my children keep going back to the same book recently, You Choose by Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt. Whilst it’s no work of literary genius, You Choose is an innovative book which allows your child to make their own story. With Nick Sharratt’s trademark illustrations, each page offers various options for your child to ‘choose’: If you could go anywhere, where would you go? Who would you have for family and friends? What kind of house would you live in? and many more.
Whilst my daughter (4) has her old favourites which she picks each time, she also notices new things almost every time she reads the book. My son (1) on the other hand is enjoying learning the different words for the different pictures he points to. This is a book which can be enjoyed across many age groups.
My recommended read this week is Us by David Nicholls. From the author of One Day, this novel is sad but funny, and oh so relatable. Scientist, Douglas, is happy in his marriage to artist, Connie. Suddenly, at 4am in the morning, she wakes him up to tell him that she feels their marriage is over and she’s leaving in the fall.
Douglas has one summer to win her back, one summer and a trip around Europe, which he plans to make the holiday of all holidays.
Whilst we join them on their journey around Europe, we also hear the story of their relationship from meeting until the present day. This book is heart-warming, true to life and is bound to make you laugh.
If you liked One Day, you’ll love this. If you haven’t read One Day, you need to.