Well, one goal I managed for January was to read two books, which were The Restoration of Otto Laird by Nigel Packer and The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera.
Otto Laird is a retired architect, living in the Swiss Alps and recovering from stomach cancer. One day, the news arrives that one of his beloved buildings is to be demolished. He feels more alive than he has for years. He decides to return to London to revisit the building – and his past along with it.
As you know, I love an elderly protagonist, and Otto Laird was another great one. The story didn’t capture me quite as much as Harold Fry, for example, but, like that novel, it switched between past and present to gradually reveal the bigger picture, which I enjoy. I might also have appreciated it more because, now living in London, I was able to recognise the places he was talking about and imagine the characters there. It was a brilliant portrayal of a life split in two.
The Awakening of Miss Prim. Now this was an unusual book. Miss Prim is a young woman who responds to a job advert in a little town called San Ireneo de Arnois. This is a town that some might call stuck in the past, others might call traditional. I found it charming! What’s more, the style of the storytelling – it’s a fantastic translation – felt like it was from a different time. It makes plenty of references to Jane Austen, and the style seems to emulate hers. There are numerous references to literature and philosophy – so much so that I felt the need to look up several ‘ism’s to understand. Some people would hate this, but I felt like it was a nice little escape.
These were both easy reads, but the former is definitely more accessible than the latter. Has anyone read either of these already?
I have yet to start a book and abandon it this year (it is only January) so I must be making good reading choices so far! Now which book to choose next…?