During my enforced wait at hospital, I was able to devour two books, both very different but both inspirational.
The first, ill-chosen book was the dark and brooding blueeyedboy by Joanne Harris. The woman is a genius; mistress of deceit and sleight of hand. I knew there would be twists in there, and even anticipated I might fall for her manipulations, but it was beyond every expectation. Another book to recommend, but not even remotely feel-good. It's a warped, chilling story; you follow the writer warily and reluctantly, but hooked, unable to squirm free, despite the sense of foreboding that she has so cleverly laced every page with. Her phrases and marriages of words are exquisite; it was a lesson in observing with all the senses. The imagery was gorgeous, the spell she cast disturbing and complete. I felt like a bird watching the weasel dance; enchanted against my will, knowing it couldn't end well. As I suggested before, it was not the best novel for calming nerves and lightening the mood, so was perhaps a poor choice for the time, but I'm glad I didn't miss it.
The second was far more feel-good, though it had a dark side, too. The Distant Hours' darkness is more gothic romance than unnerving, and the story was spun out beautifully. It was a whole hundred pages or more longer than blueeyedboy, yet I read it just as compulsively, lost in the delight of mysteries I couldn't unravel alone, awed by characters who lived and breathed, and couldn't just have been the creation of Kate Morton. She herself says she hopes for readers who can't put her books down and are sorry when they end, and that was exactly how I responded to her deft playing of my emotions. Another awe-inspiring author, with phrases that thrilled and the ability to confer a sense of setting that is masterful. This is what I want to do; if I could write like that, I could die happy.
The problem is, how to teach myself to be better; how to sharpen each thought, and how to motivate myself to spend the time polishing each word till it is perfect in its place...while still finding my own style, my own voice. It needs a lifetime of work to fulfil your own potential; I wish I had started twenty years ago, but better late than never.