The Death of Mrs. Westaway, and death to reader’s block!

I am still here.

I swear.

I have had reader’s block, an illness not to be taken lightly. I was slightly ashamed of this fact since, as a Librarian, the idea of not being able to get stuck into a good book is nothing short of defamatory to the profession. However, the more I asked around, the more I came to discover that I am not alone. There emerged a myriad of Librarians in the same predicament.

Blame it on burn out, blame it on being too busy in my job, on stress, on Summer Reading, whatever the cause, I was stuck in a rut, which was not my intended purpose this year.

I had visions of being healthier and happier, taking a calmer approach to life, relaxing more, blogging and writing and reading.

So far, so NOT good my fellow bloggarians. With all of the coming and goings of work and life, reading took a back seat. And I had not picked up a book in eons (short of a picture book for my daughter at bedtime) and I was beginning to feel…dare I say it?…forlorn.

 

That was until this weekend, when something shifted. There I was sitting outside with my dogs, blazing away in the Texas summer heat (‘hotter than the Devil’s balls’ I believe was my general description), and I was staring up at the blue, blue summer sky and that was when I felt it. An inkling.

Perhaps…I would read.

Now a couple of years back I went to American Library Association Conference in Chicago. There happens to be another one going on right now in Washington DC (not that I’m jealous AT ALL of all of the other Librarians able to attend). Point is, that when I came back from ALA, I had a stack of books. And I do mean a stack. It was so extensive that after ALA when we were coming back through the airport in Houston, I managed to partially dislocated my patella (this is a kneecap for those who are unaware), and I did that by trying to use my knee to hoist a suitcase full of new books onto a conveyor belt (yes, I know, who said Librarianship was easy and sedentary). Anyway, long story short, I brought these books to my house and have been reading through them since.

So, this past weekend when I felt my ‘inkling,’ I knew that I could rely upon ‘ye ole stack’ to come up with something to read. Approaching my bookshelf, I felt things start to sync. I felt like reading a crime drama, nothing too heavy but something entertaining enough to keep me hooked. Something with a twist, and a relate-able character and a good story.

And then I saw it. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware. It has a completely Gothic and totally gnarly cover:

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Now, it is hardly surprising that this book completely nailed it. Ruth Ware is a well established author with some of the more prestigious works being In a Dark, Dark Wood; The Woman in Cabin 10; and The Lying Game. So it is no real surprise that The Death of Mrs. Westaway would follow suit, it’s claim to fame being that it is a NY Times Best Seller.

But…I had reader’s block. And a bad case of it. Would I be able to finish it?

Well, let me tell you, I couldn’t put it down.

 

The Death of Mrs. Westaway is a twisted plot driven, character relate-able, page turning, bloody-good read. Ware has been described as an Agatha Christie of sorts, but I think that we should not underestimate the author in her own right. She writes a plot that is plausible as it is entertaining, the characters make logical choices that make sense yet still fail, there is enough Gothic in the story to fuel a sort of strange thriller with a sinister paranormal-esk backbone, and the pace of the story is timed to perfection.

The premise is that our protagonist Hal (Harriet) is broke and in desperate need of some financial help. She’s on the verge of finding herself in real trouble with some unfortunate loan sharks, when a letter arrives in the mail. Addressed directly to her, the letter tells Hal of a family legacy which leaves her an entire fortune. Problem is, they seem to have got the wrong person. Desperate as she is, Hal makes the decision to proceed forward, lying about her identity and entwining herself in the lives of her long-lost ‘family,’ and claiming a portion of the inheritance. Just enough to get her out of trouble.

But the plot sure thickens when Hal realizes that she is far more connected to the family lineage than she expected, and that the fortune amassed and now hers, will unearth all manner of deeply buried secrets.

I literally couldn’t put it down. Hal’s character is logical and personable, her motives very rational. The support characters emerge naturally as does the plot, and the twist is just enough that the ending is a surprise.

Having British heritage myself, I understood the nuances of character description and accents, and enjoyed their inclusion. I also liked that the Gothic theme wasn’t just for the cover of the book but in a genuine article in the story too.

 

Overall, this is a GO for LAUNCH from me. Grab a copy, it is a newish publication and is available on Amazon or, even better at your library.

Well worth a weekend read and definitely a page turner for me!

 

 

 

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