Just two books worth recommending that I’ve read but not reviewed this month. Thanks are due to Jacqui at JacquiwinesJournals for pointing me in the direction of one of them – Daniela Krien’s Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything, set in 1991 in what was still the GDR during the summer before German reunification. Johannes has taken sixteen-year-old Maria home where she’s remained, living with him in the top two rooms of the old family farmhouse. Her mother’s divorced and her father is about to marry his pregnant nineteen-year-old Russian girlfriend. Maria stops going to school, reads The Brothers Karamazov and learns how to cook, settling into family life until she catches the eye of forty-year-old Henner on the neighbouring farm. Soon they’re embroiled in a violently passionate affair. The backdrop of a GDR emerging from years of separation with its neighbour amidst all the conflicted feelings of joy and resentment that brings are beautifully expressed in this lovely novella translated by Jamie Bulloch who seems to have an eye for interesting German fiction. A click on the title will take you to Jacqui’s very thoughtful review.
Every so often I like to read a bit of straightforward, neatly structured, well-written, good old commercial fiction. Flagging energy levels and murky weather provided the trigger this month and Susan Elliot Wright’s The Secrets We Left Behind filled the gap nicely. It takes the form of a dual narrative – one set in 1976 when our narrator was sixteen and living in a Hastings squat after her mother died; the other in 2009 when she’s just become a grandmother and is suddenly faced with disclosing the eponymous secrets. It’s all very deftly handled, deserving of the Maggie O’Farrell comparison adorning its jacket, although not quite a match. That would be a tall order, indeed – O’Farrell’s the mistress of the dual narrative, and – so Twitter tells me – she has a new novel out next summer. Oh joy!