I’ve been very slack in writing about the books I’ve been reading on here. I’ve been a bit slack on here all round to be fair. But spurred on by other work avoidance I am going to tell you about This Is Life by Dan Rhodes. Regular readers (I know there are three of you – Hi Mum!) might remember my penchant for Dan Rhodes’ books. This author makes me happy. Happy in an ‘I don’t want this to end’ kind of way. I was worried about this book, which is a great big one for him. Previously his books are lightweight little numbers which have fitted slimly into your bag, I was worried he couldn’t sustain the fun for a weighty tome. I was worried needlessly. It was a lovely whimsical story, exactly as I had hoped.
Young art student Aurelie, is working on her big assignment, short on inspiration she takes a punt, and decides to throw a stone into the middle of a square in Paris, whoever the stone (it’s a small one) hits, she will spend a week with that person and draw them in their surroundings to get to know them and use them as a muse. Unfortunately the stone lands on a baby, as if this wasn’t bad enough the mother of the baby hands it over and walks off, with the promise of returning in a week. Aurelie has no experience with babies, little experience of the world in general and it is all a little overwhelming for her, as you would expect. Thus begins their adventure.
It is also the beginning of some large adventures for her friends, her best friend who leaves a trail of broken hearts behind her, the professor and his wife who take her in temporarily, a Japanese family whose lives will completly change as a result of meeting Aurelie, her friends and the baby. Funny, whimsical, cute, clever and a little bit silly this is a light hearted romp through Paris.
I loved it, wanted it to last longer, and can’t wait for Dan Rhodes to give me some more treasures. Disappointingly I bought it as an e-book and am now going to have to spend more money and buy a paper copy to keep. Great news for Mr Rhodes, not great news for my wallet.
I waited and waited for this book to be available in a local bookshop. I was patient, I excercised tolerance and perseverence but all to no avail. Yes, they could order it in but that just meant more waiting. I could have got it from the library. Not my library, not the main library in this town but by requesting it from a branch library and waiting for delivery. I wanted instant gratification in the end and so …. I chose Little hands clapping as my first ever download to my Kobo. I’m going to talk about the joy and delight of my Kobo on another posting but I have to say at this point that Dan Rhodes is a great choice as a test of the little machine.
Dan Rhodes was my best discovery of last year. He writes these bizzare little books which seem so simple but which are deep and layered and complex and lovely. This is the story of a weird and disturbing museum in a quiet suburb in a German city. Above the museum lives an old man who takes care of it, enjoying the cakes that the museum owner brings to their regular meetings but living in austerity and occasionally getting a message from the spiders who share his room as they turn up to be crunched by his teeth while he is asleep. This is a signal to call the Doctor who ‘takes care of the victims’. The Doctor and his dog Hans are integral in the story and they along with the doomed lovers of many varieties, the stories of those who visit the museum are engrossing and gorgeous and will make you smile and the next minute will make you cry.
Dan Rhodes plays with his readers, he takes a meandering journey through the minds and emotional lives of his lovely characters and twists and turns their paths to the end of the book, expect the dark and creepy, the sweet and quirky, expect to feel loved as a reader.
Totally worth the wait and now I want more – and I have it in the form of Timolean Vita come home which is on the Kobo waiting for my attentions.
Here are the other Dan Rhodes books I have loved. Gold and The little white car.
When you have toddled off to the Pubic Library twice in a week to get the only two Dan Rhodes books they have, you know you are feeding a new obsession. Not as fattening as my usual obsessions but just as distracting.
I read the fabulous book Gold by Dan Rhodes last weekend and totally fell for Miyuki the main character who is off on her annual holiday all on her lonesome as usual. Visiting the same cottage, at the same time, doing the same things she always does. This is a book about being alone and being part of something despite that aloofness, Miyuki walks for miles and then rewards herself with beers at the pub, and junk food for dinner, it’s a simple life until she makes an impulsive move one day. Gold is funny and sad and very beautifully written with a light touch that draws you in and makes you read the thing almost in one hit – well that was my experience.
Then on to The Little White Car also by Dan Rhodes, writing as Danuta de Rhodes. This is a groovy little story about a French girl who has borrowed her parents car, her crumbling relationship and her quest for happiness in the face of a terrible problem. How do you dispose of a car with which you must not be seen to be associated and without drawing anybody’s attention to the fact that you are getting rid of it. It’s great. Light and fluffy and romantic but with a razor sharp wit.