Thursday, 31 December 2015

My Favourite Books of 2015 #1: 'Sharp Objects' by Gillian Flynn

You've stuck with me till the end of this top 10, thank you very much for that! And now you're rewarded with finding out what my #1 is! I've chosen this one based on how it's affected me, how I'm still thinking about it and recommending it! For this list I haven't restricted myself to books that came out this year, although many of the ones featured on this list will have. Rather, I'm hoping that by today I've been able to show you what has happened in my life, book-wise, the last twelve months! 

My #1 is: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

After watching Gone Girl in the cinema I decided I should get on with reading Gillian Flynn and I decided to start with Sharp Objects. And I genuinely couldn't read anything else for the whole time I was reading this one, digesting it, thinking about it, talking about it and rereading it. I genuinely loved it, its portrayal of women and their relationships, as well as Gillian's prose which is bitter, hard and stunning.

Sharp ObjectsPub. Date: 17/09/2007
PublisherW&N; New Ed.
WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.
NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.
HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

From my review:

Sharp Objects is a novel that I won't forget for a long time. It is the kind of novel to which the word 'gritty' actually fits. It is a painful read, making you cringe at times while it also has something cathartic to it. The novel takes you on a roller coaster ride while sticking close to Camille Preaker's side. Sent back to her home town to investigate the murder of two young girls, Camille has to face up to her past, which is dangerously close to seeping into her present and future. Flynn describes the oppressive atmosphere in small towns perfectly, the paranoia of everyone knowing everyone and nothing remaining a secret for long. Aside from Flynn's amazing insights into humans, more on that later, the plot itself is incredibly gripping. Below all the layers of narrative there is a really interesting 'whodunnit' story and although there are definitely clear signs towards who it may be there are plenty of twists and turns to keep even the thriller-pro guessing.
Flynn's writing style is gorgeous, just like her characters are. The sentences flow beautifully one after the other but when you look closer there is something terrible to them. Flynn manages to give her different characters very different voices despite the first person narration which means you really get a sense of who surrounds Camille. There are incredibly witty passages which will have you stifling laughter and then there are passages that will have you outraged in their explicitness or crudeness. As I said, it is a roller coaster ride and in many ways that is what adds to understanding Flynn's main character.
Gillian Flynn writes women that are deliciously and terribly wrong. Wrong in that Flynn allows the reader a peek behind the carefully prepared facade. Her women are not perfect, they don't get everything right and they don't always have the best intentions. Her women are as cruel as her men and even more so. Flynn herself said the following about women:
'I think women like to read about murderous mothers and lost little girls because it’s our only mainstream outlet to even begin discussing female violence on a personal level. Female violence is a specific brand of ferocity. It’s invasive. A girlfight is all teeth and hair, spit and nails — a much more fearsome thing to watch than two dudes clobbering each other. And the mental violence is positively gory. Women entwine. Some of the most disturbing, sick relationships I’ve witnessed are between long-time friends, and especially mothers and daughters. ...  I wanted to write about the violence of women.' Gillian Flynn
Central to the novel is the relationship between Camille, her mother Adora and her younger sister Amma. The manipulation, fight for attention and desperation that is packed into this three-way relationships is fascinating and often struck me as true. Personally I loved the dark tone that Flynn used to describe the women's psyche, especially how she approached the paradox of female puberty where the girls are still just girls and yet find their bodies becoming sexualized, not only by others but also by themselves. Flynn covers women's lives from birth to old age, showing the reader young girls, wild teenagers, bored suburban wives and clingy mothers. Flynn examines all of these stereotypes and hits a tone that is at once revealing, judging and somehow pitying. Towards the end of the novel you will find yourself wondering to what extent women, and men, actually have a say in the people they become. To what extent are we simply formed by our parents, our towns and our societies? This novel isn't for those who prefer their lives organized and "clear".
Check out the rest of my review and please get a copy of your own!

So, that was my list of favourite books! Later today there will be a larger overview of 2015 post but thanks for sticking with me throughout these last 10 days!

1 comment:

  1. I've heard this is good but I'm keen on reading Gone Girl as I've heard good things, and want to see the movie as well as read it. I'm hoping early 2016 is when I'll dive into Gillian Flynn's stuff.

    Have a happy New Year!