The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Summary: A harrowing tale of the struggle to survive that will make you lose even more faith in humanity.
Although I didn’t particularly enjoy Steinbeck’s style – though much of that can be attributed to my dislike for the rough spoken dialect he brings to life on the page – the story itself dug its claws into me and still hasn’t released them. His own research adds a ring of authenticity to life on the road and in refugee camps, as the Joad family struggle to put gas in the car, keep their vehicle moving, put food in their mouths and keep the children together. In a word: heartbreaking.
The Villa Girls – Nicky Pellegrino
Summary: Summer love never did run smooth.
I ended up reading this as I got it from work. As chick-lit goes, it’s not too bad – although if it hadn’t been half set in Italy and food hadn’t played such a large part in it, I might not have rated it so highly. Just saying. Orphaned young, Rosie has always shied away from being around others. But that changes when she meets Enzo on a trip abroad. As heir to an olive oil dynasty, he’s in hot demand – but never found any of the local girls of interest. A surprisingly dark family secret comes between them, though, and their romance appears to be doomed.
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Summary: Naive, precocious child’s actions have long-reaching consequences – most devastatingly, for others. (Honestly, people. Just tell the truth.)
How sing-songy does the author’s name sound? Perhaps this has something to do with his overly flowery prose. To be honest, I couldn’t stand it. The entire first third was almost unbearable in its slow-moving narrative – after all, it covers a whopping two-day period – to say nothing of the intolerable aristocratic family. (It’s all a very bit Cluedo, actually). The rest of the novel, however, was a rip-roarer – the gritty war and hospital chapters sucked me in and were the sole reason I stayed up late to finish this in one night. And while I understand the requirement for the final epilogue, at the same time, I would almost rather it was cut – except for the very last two pages. Sorry to be so vague; I’m not sure how widely known the plot is and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Overall, I’d give it a 3.5/5.