I didn't expect to like this book, but….

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Paul Whybrow

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It's irritating to contemplate a book, especially one that's become a best-seller, despite an unlikely plot and think “I don't think I'd enjoy it,” then you try to read it and it's just as bad as you thought! You kick yourself, promising to avoid that author.

Sometimes, though, a book title will keep nudging your consciousness, gently enticing you to read. I have a tendency to avoid reading bestsellers immediately, leaving a couple of years until the fuss has died down. I keep a record of books to request from the local library, but one of them was sitting on the shelf waiting for me last week.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman was a breakout debut in 2017, winning the Costa First Novel Award. Reese Witherspoon is adapting it into a film.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Wikipedia

I loved it! It's one the most skillful character portrayals I've read, for Honeyman slowly releases information about Eleanor's history helping the reader understand why she is so strange. I admit, I guessed a plot twist, but that's one of the drawbacks of being a writer. That the author resisted a traditional happy ending is all to the good, adding to the power of the story. It's one of those tales where you bond with the character, wondering what they're up to now.

Even this version of the book cover is fitting:

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A couple of members of The Colony recently mentioned The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I'd put off reading it because I rarely read anything about Nazis following exposure to their atrocities when I was a child after reading details of the Nuremberg war trials. I'm one-quarter of the way into reading The Book Thief and am captivated.

The Book Thief - Wikipedia

It's good to be wrong sometimes.

Other books I enjoyed, without expecting to, include Brady Udall's The Lonely Polygamist, which is moving in its twists and turns, tragic one moment, then comedic.

The Lonely Polygamist - Wikipedia


Another book I didn't expect to like was Good Time Coming by C.S. Harris whose title is as misleading as the book cover design. Reading it partly as research for the second novella in my series about a traumatised American Civil War cavalry officer rebuilding his life in the post-war Reconstruction era, I was gripped by the dilemma faced by townspeople suddenly swept into the conflict by an invading army. Well-researched and surprisingly violent, I cared for the characters.

Fiction Book Review: Good Time Coming by C.S. Harris. Severn, $29.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8649-1

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Which books have you enjoyed, that you didn't think you would?

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Like you, I assumed Eleanor Oliphant wouldn't be for me, it's just not my usual thing al all, but I loved it. The slow reveal of Eleanor's past, her gently re-awakening humanity, is absolutely masterful.
 
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