Paradise Lodge

The job at Paradise Lodge was Miranda Longlady’s idea.

‘Teenager in seventies’ England gets a job at a seniors home and learns things about life, herself and others’ must have been a curious plot to pitch, but Nina Stibbe manages to land it with a homely, gentle feeling to the story and everyone involved. Even Matron.

Lizzie Vogel is a bit of an onion; she’s got layers. Starting off this job with ‘better shampoo’ as a personal motivation, she quickly starts to see that both seniors and the people providing for them as individuals as well. Her work at the home is more exciting and interesting than school, there’s a cute guy who’s someone else’s boyfriend, and her mother isn’t all that stable through all this; all of which causes issues in a domino kind of cascade.

That might make Paradise Lodge sound severe and dire, but even though there are deaths, it’s all on the lighter side of things. Teenage problems, without being teenage disasters. Lizzie really is an onion: she goes with many things.

Paradise Lodge, Nina Stibbe, Penguin Books 2017

The Last Mrs. Parrish

Amber Patterson was tired of being invisible.

This was insanely fun, until it got serious, and then luckily got fun again. A story like a roller-coaster, no matter how big a cliche that is. It’s fast, gets a bit scary/ugly at some times, and gives you no break from it.

It starts out with Amber, who’s planning to take a rich woman’s husband and with that, a woman’s life. Take over, there’s no need for murder, although Amber definitely has some murderous thoughts from time to time. She feels grossly neglected by faith and luck and life, so honestly – shouldn’t she grab whatever she can?

Then there’s Daphne Parrish, the delicate rose whom refuses to recognise how good she’s got it, no matter how often she says she does. It’s easy to view Amber as a bit of an angry Robin Hood, but the Constantine sisters (the author exists out of a duo) flip that around, having the reader end up in the ugly part.

And all this with such a tempo that it feels like the story is being poured straight into your brain. I honestly can’t remember downsides to it; it just leaves you with such a ‘FUCK YEAH’ feeling that blemishes are blown away.

The Last Mrs. Parrish, Liv Constantine, Harper Collins 2017

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe

The first word spoken by the Indian man Ajatashatru Oghash Rathod upon his arrival in France was, oddly enough, a Swedish word.

Pretty – no, incredibly exhausting story about an absurd idea turning even more absurd while weaving in a story about illegal immigrants and their plight. Whenever the story moves towards genuine, sweet, some learned lessons, the author destroys the moment with another awful Indians-have-weird-names joke.

Fakir Ajatashatru wants a bed of nails from the IKEA (because they sell such a thing there?) and talks his village into getting him a ticket to Paris. Woefully unprepared, unknowing and naive, he quickly pisses off a gypsy (isn’t that supposed to be Traveler or Roma?), becomes an illegal alien in several countries and travels through Europe. He meets good women that for some reason want to help him and ends up in situations suitable for Hollywood slapstick movies.

The library put this in the comedy sector, the title amused me. Sadly, the story just left me with a feeling of disappointment and slight disgust.

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe, Romain Puértolas, Harvill Secker 2014