HURTING DISTANCE by Sophie Hannah and VOYAGE by Adele Geras.
HURTING DISTANCE was excellent. I am now a Sophie Hannah fan.
I had initially been put off the book a little because of the way I first encountered it - in a supermarket wrapped in plastic together with Ms Hannah's first book, LITTLE FACE. I immediately suspected a manufactured 'best seller' - with associated clichéd writing and a sensationalist Jodi-Picoult-type story line. However, I was utterly wrong. The writing is really engaging and I can quite believe this was a real 'word of mouth' best seller. I would certainly highly recommend it.
It also, rather unexpectedly, made me think about events in my life over the past few months. This quote comes from the end of the book:
'It's one of the most effective ways of ruining someone's life - showing them, suddenly, that their interpretation of the world, everything they think they understand and believe to be true , everything that matters to them, is based on a lie, a cruel sadistic trick. Maybe it's the most effective way to destroy another human being...'The 'hurting distance', one of the chief protagonists says, is a misplaced trust - and the sort of injury that results can take longer to heal than the more physical kind.
Sophie Hannah's next thriller, POINT OF RESCUE, is out in February 2008. When it comes out in paperback I think it will be my next holiday read.
This morning I went on to read one of Sophie Hannah's mother's books: VOYAGE by Adele Geras. This is a book for young adults and quite short. It is about a group of Jewish emigrés at the turn of the twentieth century. Part of what the book explores is the concept of love and what it means to different people. Here is one view based on an arranged marriage:
Yasha tried to feel love for Naomi. He tried hard. At least a glimmering, a surge of feeling, sympathy, something. His father had said, "Love ? What is love? Love grows. Love is nothing to begin with , a tiny seed, perhaps, but it flowers with time. Knowledge is love. Working together is love, sharing a life. That's what love is. The love we read about in books, my boy, is something else. Maybe sometimes you find it in your life, but most people do not. Marriage is like a good plot of ground for love. It can grow there from the smallest beginnings, grow and flourish."
In another part another of the characters consider the love of parenthood:
Having children does something strange to you. It changes you completely. Do they realise, the young ones? Does Golda realise that never, not for one instant of her life, will she be without some part of her wondering, asking, worrying, loving her child? Do they know it is forever?
Then, at the end, a poor gentile girl is rewarded with a bracelet for feeding a woman's baby and the girl responds by naming her baby after a girl called Mina. Mina had talked to her and befriended her when no one else would. It was a simple touch but for me the most memorable and poignant part of all.
The book starts and ends with the voyage and each character is convincingly and subtly changed by the experience. It is another absorbing read and kept me thinking about it long after I had finished it.