Six down and seven still to go - but things are looking up ... a bit.
Virginia Reeves' debut "Work Like Any Other" is about that new-fangled stuff 'electricity', but then it is based at the start of the 20th Century. Roscoe, who doesn't just work with electricity but for whom it is a vocation, meets Marie, marries and they have a son. Marie, despite being a teacher, comes from farming stock and when her father dies, they return to the farm.
Roscoe is clearly unhappy there - he doesn't farm, indeed he does no work at all around the farm. On top of that, Marie appears to be entirely engrossed in caring for their son and in the farm. Roscoe decides that he can 'bring' electricity to the farm by diverting it from the main power line. Things seem to change for the better, until the theft is discovered by a man who gets electrocuted when Roscoe gets sent to prison for his manslaughter.
The book opens with a punch and thereafter, the story moves back and forth between Roscoe's time in prison and his remembrance of what came before. It's a small story about small lives, but it deals with big emotions: pride, duty, responsibility, hopes and dreams. Well-written, having a central character with a solid and engaging voice. I enjoyed it!
Deborah Levy's "Hot Milk" is her second Booker candidate.
Very different, in both time period and story-telling style from the previous contender, Hot Milk is the somewhat suffocating tale of mother and daughter and their visit to a suffocatingly hot southern Spain.
Sofia's mother Rose has been an invalid for a long time, with a long list of symptoms and medication. As a last ditch effort, they decide to attend a clinic run by the somewhat unusual Gomez and his daughter Nurse Sunshine. Whilst carrying out standard medical tests and processes, Gomez seems to challenge Rose's previous diagnosis whilst encouraging Sofia to fly. The question of whether Rose is a hysteric is Gomes a quack seems to be simply a sideline to the inspection of relationships. That of the mother-daughter (with a brief visit to the father-daughter), all alongside that of the daugher with her life and herself.
Beautifully written, with strands of greek mythology weaved throughout it. A most interesting and enjoyable read.