I know year 2014 has started and a fortnight has already passed. But still, I don't think I am late in recounting the finest books of all genres - action, comedy, drama, crime, mystery & all quality literature extracted from the most creative minds that we got to lay our eyes upon the last year. Here, let's take a quick look :
1. Gone Girl - By Gillian Flynn
This is a breathtaking book and one of the finest thrillers that I have read in a long period. 'Gone Girl' explores the psychology & dynamics of a long distance relationship expressed in first person accounts between the two protagonists : The Husband Nick & wife Amy Dunne's difficult marriage with Nick losing his job. It tells the tale of a husband whose wife has gone missing and the diary entries of the 'Gone Girl'. But as the story unfolds, it becomes visible that nothing is as it seemed like at the beginning.
No spoilers but I would just say that it's a very special book with none of its kind. It has met high critical acclaim all over the world & is also a New York Times Bestseller. So, if you haven't yet read this masterpiece, do it.
2. Longbourn - By Jo Baker
Now, I have never been in favour of remaking movies and similarly, rewriting an old classic with the perspective & viewpoint of a different character altogether. But I must admit that Jo Baker has managed to pull off a gem of a novel. It has retell the all time classic of Jane Austen - 'Pride & Prejudice' from the perspective of one of the servants of the household. The orphaned maiden of the household, Sarah is the central character of the plot.
And by the way, there's no necessity for you to have already read 'Pride & Prejudice' - it's very well written and Baker creates a vivid & fascinating world.
3. The Cuckoo's Calling - By Robert Gailbraith ( J K Rowling )
A book written by a first time author receives favourable reviews by its readers and critical acclaim. I wondered how a first - time novelist was able to pull off writing such a gripping piece. And then we got to know that 'Robert Gailbraith' is just a pseudonym and the author is none other than J K Rowling of the Harry Potter Fame.
It is a thriller about a detective named Cormoran Strike who investigates a supermodel's suicide. We may think that we know the detectives pretty well with Sherlock Holmes and more, but Strike is a detective never seen before with his investigative plans. I, like many others got to know about the author's identity very late and re-read it. But the book was impressive enough. However, 'Robert Gailbraith' still has a long way to go as far as murder mysteries go. Still, a must read.
4. The Golden Egg - By Donna Leon
For starters, Donna Leon is an American author famous for writing crime mysteries set in Venice with a fictional hero 'Commisario Guido Brunetti'. And the best part about Donna's novels is the gentle pace by which the plot moves forward and finely sketched characters . Donna describes the family life of Brunetti, his wife Paola - detailing the wine they drink, what they have for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the murder mystery that is the heart of the story. I savoured every word - every word of the 18 novels she has penned down earlier with the same central character and it's no mean feat to sustain a mystery series at such a high-class for so long.
It tells about the corruption in the society and the enigma behind the murder of a deaf- mute mentally challenged who worked in a tailor shop. The book is highly recommended.
Special Mentions :
#1 : Mapping The Edge - By Sarah Dunant
Yeah, I know it's a very old novel but I read it last month only. Sorry if you feel this shouldn't have it included in here. You may skip if you've already read it.
I had mixed feelings about this one and I guess that's the case with many others. The story began very well but I felt Sarah tried to overdo it by the middle of the plot & frankly speaking, I was very confused by the end of the story. But I am glad I didn't give up in between by the constant assurances by a friend of mine. Dunant attempts to tell the tale of two alternatives of a woman's abduction without ever indicating where the truth lies. Just like a psychological thriller movie, even the finest details change the outcome of the story. Still, Sarah's imagination is laudable with being times I felt like I was watching a Christopher Nolan masterpiece in my mind. Judge it yourself.
#2 : And The Mountains Echoed - By Khaled Hosseini
I know - critical acclaim, various awards, New York Times Bestseller and extremely favourable reviews by its readers all over the world. But I somehow felt Khaled missed the mark on this one. We all know how good a storyteller he is with his earlier two books - 'The Kite Runner' & 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' proving the best examples. There were more than 30 characters in the book and my mind was really confused by the different characters. Also, there were far too many subplots with side characters that I found them unnecessary. Again, the continuous switch between past and present also proved a bit confusing. I liked the first few chapters but then it felt all over the place.
In spite of all these shortcomings, Khaled has still managed a very fine novel - the story of an Afghan family and how the 20th century has split families. There is some very fine expression, as we all know with Hosseini followed by something missing. You are your best judge.
In short, the year 2013 has provided us with some excellent books by some literary geniuses and I really hope we get to see something similar this year. Hoping I wasn't too late publishing on this topic. Eagerly awaiting your reaction.. :)