Well, my frenzy of ordering Orange books at the library and asking friendly publishers to send me copies to help out with my goal of reading the entire Orange Longlist 2012 has started to pay off already. Yesterday lunchtime I picked up two reservations which had arrived at the library, and when I got home from work, three titles had arrived from Anne-Marie at Profile Books. Unfortunately I was reading The roundabout man by Clare Morrall all yesterday because it had been reserved by someone else at the library and needed to go back so I didn't get a chance to get stuck in immediately. I shouldn't say unfortunately, because The roundabout man is an absolutely fantastic novel. I've long been a fan of Clare Morrall (she went to the same school as me, but not at the same time), and I've read all of her novels since a friend gave me her debut (The astonishing splashes of colour) which was longlisted for the booker. I think that this story is one of her best - it's quirky and entertaining and right until the end one is not quite sure how the story will pan out. It's a shame that this didn't make it onto the Orange list, partly because I was reading it the day after the announcement, but it is certainly among the best of women's fiction. I hope that I won't be disappointed by the Orange longlisted titles after reading this.
I'll get started on the books which have arrived in due course, but here are a few thoughts about the four books on the longlist which I had read prior to the announcement from what I can remember.
There but for the (Ali Smith)
This is an amazing story built around a premise of a dinner party where one of the guests disappears into a bedroom and refuses to come out. I don't remember very much more than this, but suffice to say that it is a fascinating book about relationships. Ali Smith's writing is as ever excellent, and it would not surprise me to see this novel shortlisted.
Gillespie and I (Jane Harris)
I won a copy of this book before Christmas and was quite excited by it as had enjoyed her previous novel The observations so much. I didn't enjoy this quite so much, perhaps because it was so very meaty at over 500 pages, but set in Victorian Glasgow it was a good book to read when the days are short and you want some mystery and intrigue.
The translation of the bones (Francesca Kay)
Like Gillespie and I, I'd enjoyed the author's previous debut An equal stillness very much and had high hopes for her follow up which somehow weren't quite fulfilled. Set around a Roman Catholic church in London, this tells the story of the devout Mary Margaret O'Reilly who sees a miracle when she is cleaning the church one day. This forms the basis for a book which tells the story of many of the other parishioners and the way that they respond to the miracle. It was an interesting story and very well written but somehow very different from An equal stillness.
The forgotten waltz (Anne Enright)
Again, I was champing at the bit to get to this book having LOVED The gathering, but again I wasn't as gripped by it as by the previous book. It tells the story of an affair that leads to the breakdown of two marriages.
I would not be at all surprised to see either Enright or Smith on the shortlist.
Anyway, enough for blogging for this evening, time to go and get on with some more reading, and hopefully there'll be a post about my first Orange title since the longlist tomorrow.