Category Archives: Michael Frayn

Reading Me Like A Book (Or Ten)

I got tagged by the lovely Simon T of Stuck in a Book last week in a meme he had created. It’s a great idea and one that, should you wish to, you can all have a go at. You simply go to your shelves close your eyes and pull ten random books of them and then tell your readers what those ten books tell the world about you. Simon says (ha, I normally am on the receiving end of that saying) that you can cheat a bit which is what I had to do a bit as I only took books of my shelves with books I had read on and some of the titles didn’t work. Anyway on with the books which as you can see I carefully arranged on the sofa… sort of.

Blackmoor by Edward Hogan
This is the best casing point of proving that I wasn’t cheating and as soon as I had picked it I thought ‘oh no’ as I couldn’t think of anything it said about me. I then remembered that it is set in Derbyshire and that is where I am from so that tells you more about me doesn’t it.

The Mitford’s: Letters Between Six Sisters edited by Charlotte Mosley
Now you probably already know I am a bit of a Mitford maniac so that’s not really something new. But I am a huge fan of letter writing. I used to write sides and sides of A4 letters to my friends but sadly it’s gone out of fashion, I am thinking I should make some new pen-pals but not sure how you go about it.

The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins
Now after my sensation season I don’t need to fill you all in on how much I love the genre or how fascinated I am by all things Victorian but its worth a mention. Did you also know that I am into all thinks ghostly and though I haven’t stayed in a haunted hotel I worked in on in Devizes and have stayed in a few haunted sites like Peterborough Museum which was once a hospital and a mansion (I even spent a while in the old morgue) I have also slept in the London Tombs a lovely bunch of plague pits for charity.

Animals People by Indra Sinha
India is one of the countries that I most want to go to, fact one. The second fact is that I have always been a big fan of pets. In fact from about 3 years old I had a duck called Rapunzel who lived indoors with us and would fly to me if I shouted her, she was one of the best pets ever. Since then though I have reverted to cats and goldfish, I only have the latter at the moment but we could be getting two little sets of whiskers in the house soon. Very excited! Ooh and thirdly I did my work experience at a vet surgery and was in the Swindon press after we helped save a dog’s life.

Spies by Michael Frayn
My fantasy job, as I soon decided I didn’t want to be a vet, is now to be a spy. It won’t happen in a million years but I would love it, apart from being terrified all the time. It is also why I am addicted to Spooks when it’s on.

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld
If I had done a degree my aim was to become a psychologist and to go onto do criminal profiling and working out why people kill and how their killings say so much about a killer. I think its fascinating and why I like crime fiction so much and need the occasionally binge.

Daphne by Justine Picardie
Good old Daphers is my favourite author and Rebecca is my favourite book, can’t say more than that can I? Ha!

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Well I am an avid reader and hopefully the books I read aren’t common. Hmmm, how do I put that better? I hope I read a diverse collection of books. Also apart from age and national treasure status I like to think I have a lot in common with Alan Bennett he’s northern, a writer etc, etc.

The Accidental by Ali Smith
I am one of the clumsiest people you could ever meet, seriously it’s ridiculous. Falling seems to be one of my specialities or bumping into things or tripping, basically anything is a health hazard.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
This was my only cheat and it’s a bit of a tenuous fact. I am a big fan of cats; in fact as a kid I wasn’t interested in dinosaurs but I wanted a sabre tooth tiger as a pet. So I think if I could be any animal it would be snow leopard or white tiger. I know that’s pushing it a bit but it’s the best I could do.

So there you have it! Who else is up for doing this? I wont tag particular people just leave it up to all of you to have a go at and if you do it do pop a link in the comments, or of course if you have already done it. Do you think these books say a lot about me; do you feel you know me a little bit better?

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Filed under Alan Bennett, Ali Smith, Aravind Adiga, Book Thoughts, Charlotte Mosley, Edward Hogan, Indra Sinha, Justine Picardie, Michael Frayn, Wilkie Collins

Spies – Michael Frayn

I have just put this down. I wasn’t sure to start with that I was going to like this, however its one of Mum’s favourites and its also been on my TBR pile for far too long and I planned to read it a few weeks ago and read ‘Underground’ by Tobias Hill instead… big mistake, well sort of. ‘Spies’ from the title I thought was going to be Michael Frayn’s massive Second World War espionage tale, what I found was indeed intriguing and wonderful but I need to learn not just to judge a book by its cover but also by its title.

‘Spies’ starts with an old man heading back to his youth where he tells the tale of Keith and Stephen, two friends who live on ‘the close’ during the Second World War. It took me a while to realise that he is Stephen as he speaks about himself as another person in some parts and as ‘I’ in others, I found this slightly off putting and confusing at first but once you get that in your head the book is much easier to follow and you can get into and concentrate on the story, and what a story it is.

The Second World War seems to have not affected the boys, bar one of the neighbours houses being wiped off the street by a wayward bomb, that is until one day Keith announces that his mother ‘is a German spy’ and things change, at first Stephen isn’t sure as Keith has already announced that one of the neighbours is a murderer (though they do find bones in his garden) however they decide to watch her and see what happens. What starts as a child’s game becomes anything but, and as these young boys become young men things start to change all around them, and hard lessons must be learnt.

Frayn writes this novel brilliantly, you’re hooked by the story and Frayn weaves in more clues and red herrings as you go. He also writes brilliant characters, Keith’s parents are done wonderfully, she the nice seeming woman and he the frightening dictator which of course affects Keith’s character. Stephen who the story bases around is real, he makes huge mistakes, can be a coward but can also be very brave. There is also the brilliant character of Barbara the annoying girl next door who is interfering but also used wonderfully to describe how boys and girls feel about each other at awkward ages.

This is a brilliant book that yes does have a mystery ‘spy’ story to it but also is a story that is told brilliantly from a child’s perspective, and deals with becoming an adult, adult’s secrets, the War and things that go one behind closed doors and all in less than 250 pages, a real accomplished book. I would recommend this to everyone; mind you everyone has probably already read it.

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Filed under Faber & Faber, Michael Frayn, Review