Happy Monday! I’m kicking off the week with two book reviews. Both of these stories are exquisite reads. I was drawn to the first by the title and the second by the blurb, which promised a story “inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the Manson murders, and the infamous summer Percy and Mary Shelley spent with Lord Byron at a Lake Geneva castle––the birthplace of Frankenstein.”
I found them both engrossing, but will let you be the judge . . .
IF CATS DISAPPEARED FROM THE WORLD
By Genki Kawamura
I was drawn to this book because of the title and the thoroughly enchanting cover, then I read the blurb and knew I had to pick it up. I LOVE cats, so of course I had to discover how everything played out.
In the story, a young unnamed postman discovers he has terminal cancer. The devil tells him he will die the next day—unless he accepts an offer. For each thing he agrees to make disappear from the world, his life will be extended by one day.
The devil begins with smartphones then moves onto clocks. Each day he reappears with a new object that has to be eradicated from the world. Each has a strong connection to the postman, although he doesn’t always realize it at the time.
You see where this is headed, right? Did I mention the postman lives alone, and his only companion is a cat named Cabbage?
Translated from Japanese, this is a short read, and one I would categorize as “different.” Our troubled postman does a lot of reflecting and conscience wrestling. The reader is treated to his backstory, including his relationship with both parents and a former cat named Lettuce. While I thought the beginning was a little slow, the second half of the book captured my attention (and my heart) and didn’t let go.
A most unusual read. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 for review purposes.
By Rachel Hawkins
An intensely character-driven mystery that builds from slow simmer, The Villa is an intriguing dual timeline story. In the present, Emily Sheridan is going through a painful divorce while struggling to finish her latest cozy mystery. Her long-time friend, Chess, a renown author of self-help books, invites her to vacation at an Italian villa–suggesting they can focus on writing. Although they haven’t been truly close for a while, and their friendship has had its share of ups and downs, Emily agrees.
After arriving, she realizes the villa is the same place where Noel Gordon, a notorious rock star, gathered a handful of musicians and writers in 1974 for a summer fueled by sex, drugs, music, and literature. One of those guests–Mari, a nineteen-year-old girl–would pen a book that goes on to become a classic horror novel. The end of the gathering would also leave one of the group dead and another imprisoned for murder.
What appealed to me most about The Villa are the parallels between Gordon’s summer of ’74 where Mari writes Lilibeth Rising, and the summer Percy and Mary Shelley spent with Lord Byron at his castle. It’s easy to spot who resembles who among the assortment of characters (there are a few others involved, too). Emily gets caught up in the history of the Villa and that infamous summer which leads to increasing tensions and complications with Chess.
The book moves at a slow pace, yet somehow despite nothing much happening until several twists and turns at the end, the story is still a page-turner. It’s a book to read and soak in, not one to breeze through. The ’74 timeline is by far the more interesting of the two despite the
insensitivity of most of the characters. Modeling it after the Shelly/Byron summer was a stroke of genius by the author.
Thanks for visiting today. I hope one of these books caught your interest. I’d read Rachel Hawkins before (Reckless Girls) and knew she’d deliver a good tale, but Genki Kawamura was new for me. Though wildly different in style, I found both books hard to put down.