A Ladder To The Sky by John Boyne | Book Review

book review-28

The new novel from the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Heart’s Invisible Furies , a seductive Highsmithian psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man who will stop at nothing in his pursuit of fame.

Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for success. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent – but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own.
Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel.
Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall…

Wow! This was my second John Boyne book and following The Hearts Invisible Furies, I had high expectations. This book was totally different and the storytelling was just truly impressive. This story follows Maurice Swift and his rise to fame as an “author”. Maurice is introduced as a handsome young man who wants nothing more than to be a famous and celebrated writer.

“I think Maurice is whatever he needs to be, whenever he needs to be it. He’s an operator, that’s for sure.”
― John Boyne, A Ladder to the Sky

Maurice is actually not a likable guy and he does “whatever it takes” to get the story. But this book keeps you hooked through its dark humor and that this story brought to life through the people that guided (and assisted) Maurice along his way.

This story was truly unique and kept me on my toes. The middle lagged for me a bit but the ending was satisfying and I enjoyed when the tables were turned. A big thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for gifting me a copy of this book, all opinions are my own.


The Heart’s Invisible Furies | Book Review

Book Review-8

Quoted from Goodreads.com:

“Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamorous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.

At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.

In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.”

This book. I am sometimes hesitant to read books that come so highly recommended because I worry that I will have unrealistic expectations for them. I didn’t need to worry about that with The Heart’s Invisible Furies. It truly was everything the reviews said it was, and more. It is a long book, almost 600 pages and is one that comes together over time but is also hard to put down.

“I remember a friend of mine once telling me that we hate what we fear in ourselves,” 
― John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies

It is the story of Cyril who is a gay man born into extremely conservative Ireland in the 1940s. It is a powerful and moving story that intertwines Cyril’s life with the backdrop of Ireland in the 20th century and the long and difficult history of LGBT rights. It covers so much…friendship, family, loss, violence, politics, religion, and prejudice. It follows Cyril from conception through old age in seven-year intervals. Boyne is able to share this sometimes overwhelmingly sad story with humor which I found to be the most wonderful balance as a reader. It had many moments of wit intertwined with some pretty horrific life events for Cyril and those who became his family.

“You’re a bit of an oddball, Jonathan,’ I said. ‘Has anyone ever told you that?’
‘Nineteen people this year alone,’ he said. ‘And it’s only May.” 
― John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies

The characters were perfectly imperfect and the flaws made the story what it was. There were times of mourning and grief and there were many lessons learned along the way.

“Maybe there were no villains in my mother’s story at all. Just men and women, trying to do their best by each other. And failing.” 
― John Boyne, The Heart’s Invisible Furies

Cyril is an ordinary man with a very unordinary life and I loved watching the process of him finding not only who he was all along but also the road to self-love and acceptance. This book, even with its time of heartbreak, is about love, all kinds of love. It’s about what makes a family and how circumstances that are sometimes out of our own control can totally change our lives.

This book was thought-provoking and truly one of a kind. I will remember it forever and although at times it was hard to read, I am so happy I did.

Nine Perfect Strangers | Book Review

Book Review-5

I was hesitant to read this book after seeing a lot of mixed reviews. After talking with some of my reading friends, the consensus was that it was a lot different than her other books and it didn’t have that psychological thriller component to it. It was very helpful to know this ahead of time or else I think I would have been waiting “for something to happen” the whole time. Some of her books were so enjoyable to me, specifically The Husbands Secret and Big Little Lies..and others fell flat like Truly Madly Guilty.  I love her writing style and her in-depth characters which are always a consistent theme of her books.

I went into this one with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised by the first half of the book. I enjoyed “getting to know” each of the nine guests and the three staff members at Tranquillum House. I also love self-help so I was intrigued by the idea of a 10-day retreat. I enjoyed hearing about what lead the guests to make a visit to this exclusive resort..some of the stories were very interesting and some were also very sad. The characters were multi-faceted and although the first half of the book was not especially fast-paced, it was very enjoyable to me.

Unfortunately, after the first half, this book just lost me. I was interested in the idea that although the guests knew they would be leaving Tranquillum House totally refreshed and changed, they didn’t quite know what they were signing up for. But the direction the “treatment” took was just comical to me and it was hard to take seriously after that. I did wade through it until the end and enjoyed the “wrap-ups” of each character but once the book went a completely different direction..it just didn’t seem believable to me.

I am happy I read it but it was a long one and I don’t think it would be one I would recommend. I am hoping her next book is a winner because so many of them have been!