Bride Without a Groom by Amy Lynch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Man, I loved this book! I chortled and giggled my way through all 300 odd pages. How could I not after floating in the head of one self-absorbed, dilettante named Rebecca on a mission to land herself a husband. As for the target of her ambitions, Barry the lawyer, well, he was simply outgunned. The poor man had to beat a hasty retreat to Bangkok, (or was it Hong Kong, or Taiwan?) in order to muster his defense against Rebecca’s ‘you have to marry me’ onslaught. In Barry’s absence there’s hope that Rebecca would see the light, which she attempts through a veil of self-indulgence, fried-foods and gin & tonics. But Rebecca isn’t alone in her quest as she has the unwavering support of her BFF, the wealthy Emer.
Every dastardly challenge is rewarded with a mani-pedi, spa retreat, body wax, spray-on tan, and another gin & tonic; in other words Rebecca’s world is deliciously superficial. And that’s the brilliance of author Lynch’s writing, because as a reader you still wish for Rebecca to get her man despite her obvious failings.
As for writing style, it’s so successful rendered in the first person, from Rebecca’s perspective, that I could not help but become fully engaged in her trials and tribulations. The dialog was sassy, snappy and spot on in a British/Irish kind of way (which I found thoroughly refreshing). I especially enjoyed it when Amy Lynch lifted the lid on the inner workings of Rebecca’s mind; I so enjoyed the ruminations and rationales made by this hopeful bride in her effort pursue her life’s single purpose–to get herself a husband. Poor Barry never had a chance! There is no doubt I’d be delighted to read Amy Lynch’s next book because of her ability to both charm and amuse me. A fun, fun read.
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The China Pandemic by A.R. Shaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I totally enjoyed it, surprisingly so, as I’m typically leery of post-apocalyptic material. It is the gratuitous nihilism of the genre that tends to numb me. However, with A.R. Shaw’s “The China Pandemic” the caricature of dystopian mayhem is displaced, instead the reader is treated to a well-developed humanist portrayal of individual and community survival despite awful odds. The sense of responsibility borne on the shoulders of the main protagonist Graham, is palpable. His cautious generosity, taking care of a motley crew of survivors at great personal risk–some being children, is admirable to witness. Seeing the personal growth of all the characters as the narrative unfolds is satisfying; they are at times pitiful, vulnerable and cruel, yet, at other times they are resourceful, compassionate and selfless. This all seems plausible to me considering the extraordinary pressures everyone was living under.
Adding to the tension of this well-written novel is the unseen presence of a well-organized compound of Preppers. The addition of this group leads to further intriguing plot lines; and raises questions about the amazing lengths ordinary men and women are prepared to go in order to survive. Appropriately, the reader is consciously aware that all the resources of civil society have been eviscerated by the pandemic, and that the threat of anarchy, lawlessness and death remains a constant in every chapter. For instance, any chance meeting with a stranger may well have dire consequences, whether it be contagion, assault, abduction or even execution. Then there is the change in the social order; a segregation between the Carriers (those immune, but carrying the virus) and the Preppers who are understandably struggling to remain disease free. I found this to be immensely provocative…and emotionally powerful.
I’m looking forward to reading A.R. Shaw’s next book in the Graham’s Resolution series now that my misgivings of the genre have been so effectively allayed.
Review by Mark Fine of THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE: An Apartheid Love Story
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