Dear Stranger is a collection of letters written by a variety of people from celebrities (such as Arianna Huffington, Richard Branson and Caitlin Moran) to those who have mental health issues regarding the subject of happiness. The book which is in the aid of Mind a mental health charity with at least £3 from every book sold going towards the organisation.
As the variety of authors is so different, it means the letters are all completely different. Some letters were illustrations, others based on personal experience and others were critiquing happiness. At most the letters were two pages long which is enough to create a real impact and leave you thinking about what has been written. Letters I particularly liked were ones by Arianna Huffington, Nicholas Allan, Nick Harkaway, Rachel Joyce, Seaneen Molloy- Vaughan and Thomas Harding.
The story starts with Luna, a thirty something free-spirited artist, who after going to her father’s funeral wants to understand why her mother, Angie, left him behind. In addition, Luna starts to question the decisions she has made regarding her lifestyle (living the dream as an artist but struggling to make ends meet and actively choosing not to have children) which is the defining theme in the book. As the story develops we see the reason why Angie left Dave, learn about her life on a welsh commune, Luna questioning herself as a woman and we are introduced to a young mother Nat. Nat is trying to build a good life for her children despite the fact she is a young mother who mixes with the wrong crowd. The story is told from three angles, Luna in the present, Angie in the 1970’s and Nat in the late 1990’s.
I really enjoyed the book, so much so I have reread it a few times. The hippy 1960’s/ 1970’s era really interests me and always has done. Therefore, I found Angie’s chapters detailing life on the commune to be the best and most appealing to me. Luna was just quite moany after a while and that started to grate with me. However this I felt was meant to be deliberate by the author. Nat didn’t need to be in the book, I much rather had more chapters about Angie’s life on the commune than Nat’s chapters. So I found myself flicking through those parts quite quickly. As there was no connection between Nat and Luna and Angie both (apart from the children and them being women) it felt fragmented and found myself skipping over those parts. Although it all came together in the end and the book ended well. It left me hoping there is an Angie spin off!
”Here is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end.
Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it. She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet, her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye.
But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen.
Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment. ”
Publish Date: 2014
Awww I loved this book, this story is about Rabbit, she is in a hospice dying of cancer and she is aware that she hasn’t got long to live. In Rabbit’s sleep, she goes back to her youth where she was in love with Johnny Faye who was in a band with her brother. The chapters alternate between the growing love story between her and Johnny to how her family is dealing with Rabbit dying. In particular the relationship between Rabbit’s mother, Molly and her brother Davey, over the guardianship of Juliet her daughter. The story itself was very well written, it felt to me that each chapter had its place and added to either the love story or the practicalities and emotions of having a close one pass away. On a side note, I loved the fact it was set in Ireland, as I have visited Ireland before and loved the place (and want to go back).
The ones I have read however have been a real mixture of good and bad. As you will see below:
Wild- Cheryl Strayed
Wild tells the story of Cheryl Strayed a woman who after her mother died from cancer decided to trek the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) to help find herself. Cheryl had no prior hiking experience and the PCT trail is one of the hardest in America.
Therefore for Cheryl to get through the trail meant that anything is possible. Her story was raw and didn’t hold back. The descriptions of the wildlife she walked through made me want to go and experience the PCT for myself and by understanding her life story you can see why she made the mistakes she did.
Since I Don’t Have You – Louise Candlish
Possibly the worst book I have read in a while. This book was so bad I have had to refer back to it to remember the main character’s name! Rachel makes a pact with two of her best friends Jenny and Marial that each other would look after children if anything happened to each other. Fast forward a few years the children are six and at school. One day Rachel’s child goes on a school trip and dies in a minibus crash.
Therefore to escape Rachel decides to fly to Santorina (she has always been interested in Santorina because her mother was born there). To keep her pact she decides to hire a private investigator (creepy I know!) to check up on her friends and their children. The book was just boring I wasn’t interested in the descriptions of Greece, I found the whole private investigator thing really didn’t work and the way it was written, it was a drag to get through. I didn’t even finish the book. One for the Donation box!
The Children’s Act- Ian McEwan
This book follows a QC who has to make a difficult decision regarding a religious woman and son’s young life. The book was better then I thought it would be. Written in Ian McEwan’s signature style where you pretty much have to concentrate through the entire book ( it’s not a light read!) it delivers a book that is a mixture of religion, love and morals.
Tales From The Ringroad- BBC
Ok it’s not a book it is a radio series on BBC Radio 4. Essentially a different ringroad in the country is chosen each week and several people tell their story which has a connection with the ringroad.One episode was about the ringroad in Coventry. A man who was driving on the road one night got hit by a car who was driving in the opposite direction. Another story based in Wolverhampton was about a man who lived on the ringroad in a tent. It’s one to listen when you are on the commute home. It does sound a bit out there (stay with me on this!) but it isn’t that bad and is quite interesting. If all else fails the soothing voice will put you to sleep.
I picked this book up cheap in the local charity shop (as a lot of her books
these days are). The book is about with four sisters (Annie, Candy, Sabrina and Tammy) who all come together on the4th July every year to celebrate. All the sisters are successful (as the majority of women in Danielle Steel’s books are) therefore they all live this perfect life. A car accident occurs and their mother is killed instantly. Annie who was in the car with her mother survives but due to her injuries becomes blind, the sisters on learning this decide to live with Annie for a year to help her adjust.
Unfortunately I just couldn’t finish the book. I understand that Danielle Steel’s book is an escape from reality but there are only so many books about TV producers, lawyers and famous models I could take. If you are familiar with Danielle Steel’s books you may well have noticed the repetition of information in this case Annie being an artist and Candy a model. We KNOW THIS twenty times already! To me it shows that she is trying to pad the book out and it got to the point where I felt like I was wasting my time, therefore I stopped reading soon after the sisters moved into the flat in New York. I am almost certain that Annie will find someone lovely to fall in love with and become something other than an artist. This book
just didn’t do it for me therefore it’s one for the charity shop.