I have recently finished Beside Myself by Ann Morgan. This book has burst onto the shelves and has had a fantastic reception. I enjoyed it immensely but let me just say: this book FREAKED ME THE HELL OUT.
There are disturbing books, and then this. And the weird thing is I don’t really know why I found it disturbing. I have read books with way worse, more sick and weirder plots. But I found this one a total head f**k.
The story line (no spoilers, it gives this much away in the blurb):
2 identical twin girls, 1 is popular, clever and appreciated, the other is a loner, teased, perceived to be ‘slow’ and just generally lives a miserable existence. In the summer holidays they decide to ‘swap places’ for fun to see if they can fool their mother. They do. The next morning the poor sad twin decides she likes her new life as popular twin and won’t swap back, accusing her sister of ‘being silly and playing pretend’ when she tries to tell people the truth. The game doesn’t stop and they go on living the wrong life.
Oh my godddddd disturbing right?!
I must admit, it’s an amazing book but I found it uncomfortable to read. I was literally wincing as I read it. The plot made me feel trapped as if I was the twin stuck in her sisters life. It is not an easy book. Approach with caution.
However, if you enjoy books which challenge you and push you outside your comfort zone then I urge you to read it. It’s definitely one of a kind and will challenge your ideas about identity, siblings, the nature/nature debate, self fulfilling prophecies and probably your general sanity.
Cliché – I know! Everyone has read this book and everyone loved it. And guess what? I loved it too!
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; the 2015 best seller that took te UK by storm and is now a ‘major motion picture’ (set in America, which I’m not impressed by. Is the orginal setting of a commuter train between London and it’s suburbs too grey for the film industry by any chance?!).
I didn’t just read this book, I consumed it. 3 days later and I was finished! To be honest that would only be my only criticism of it – it’s too addictive! Be prepared to give up your life in order to finish it as soon as possible!
Essentially a diary style thriller, the main character being Rachel, a divorced alcoholic trying to put her life back together who becomes wrapped up in a missing persons story which at times you are not sure if it’s real or all in her head. She is a likeable character and an unlikely heroin but I did find myself really rooting for her by the end. HUGE twist at the end but I won’t spoil it.
It’s a fantastic read. I think the diary style narrative makes it feel light and kind of ‘easy’ to read but at the same time the story is gripping and totally pulls you in from the start.
Can’t wait for the movie!
The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff
The Danish Girl is a novel set in 1925, loosely based on true events and inspired by the story of Lili Elbe; a transgender woman and one of the first people to ever undergo gender reassignment surgery.
I’m sure most people have seen the film by now, and although I was dying to see the film in the cinema (I love Eddie Redmayne and the reviews were so good) I was strict with myself. I must read the book first.
And I’m glad I did. The story is poignant and delicate and dreadfully sad, but also really easy to read and flows page after page like a holiday book. I actually did read this one on holiday; on my mini break to Barcelona. I had thought it might be a bit heavy and take a while for me to read but I actually finished it in about 4 days!
The book is not long, but follows many years of the lives of Greta and (at the beginning) Einar; a husband and wife living in Copenhagen and who are both artists. Slowly but surely Lili begins to creep into their lives and Einar becomes more and more sure that he is really Lili inside. Greta accepts his choices with remarkable ease and selflessness, which at first seems to stem from her desire for him to be happy, but as the story progresses she begins to make a lot of money from her paintings of Lili in an otherwise lack lusture artistic career. In the story Einar, torn between what society expects from him and how he really feels, eventually makes the brave decision to undergo surgery to become Lili on the outside as well as in.
I would thoroughly recommend this book. It’s a great mix of something really though provoking and challenging but it’s also a love story in some ways. There are some really nice moments of true love and friendship between Greta and Lili which makes you reconsider how love should be defined. A great read.
Has anyone else read it?