BOOK BITES | André Aciman, Susan Elliot Wright, Ben Crane

24 November 2019 - 00:00 By sunday times books
'Find Me', 'The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood', 'Blood Ties'.
'Find Me', 'The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood', 'Blood Ties'.
Image: Supplied

Published in the Sunday Times (24/11/2019)

Find Me **
André Aciman
Faber & Faber, R290 

Penning a sequel to the award-winning book, Call Me By Your Name that inspired an Oscar-winning film was never going to be easy. Aciman has described the word "sequel" as "poisonous" and Find Me certainly doesn't take the form most fans would be looking for. The first 100-odd pages of the four-part book don't even mention the beloved lovers, Elio and Oliver. Instead, an ageing professor meets a young woman on a train to Rome and they soon have a love affair. One eventually figures out that the character is Samuel, Elio's father. Elio and Oliver appear in the second and third movements; Elio falling in love with an older Frenchman in Paris and Oliver married and miserable in New York. It is only 12 pages from the end where the lovers meet. Aciman has delivered what feels like Tom Ford's film adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man - a series of beautiful but hollow perfume adverts. Find Me is heavy on philosophical ruminations, middle-class Europeanness and ageing men's fantasies. Russell Clarke @russrussy

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood ****
Susan Elliot Wright
Simon & Schuster, R305

Cornelia walks with a limp, smokes like a chimney and is wary of crows. Childless, friendless and despised by all who know her. Through flashbacks we see that she once had a doting husband, a healthy sex life, a baby on the way and good relationships with her neighbours and colleagues. What happened between then and now that caused her to be so terribly alone? Just when she thinks her life will be barren forever, Cornelia meets a single mom and her young son. She welcomes them into her home and dotes on the little boy, but all is not as it seems. Wright is a skilled storyteller; she knows when and how much to reveal to keep the reader on tenterhooks. A tragic story of loss, motherhood and madness. Anna Stroud @annawriter_

Blood Ties ****
Ben Crane
Head of Zeus, R205

Ben Crane is obsessed with falcons. Diagnosed with Asperger's at 40, his passion for birds of prey has taken him all over the world, learning ancient techniques of falconry from people whose ancestors invented the art. His memoir is rich with descriptions, both on falconry and nature. While billed as a story of a man learning to become a father, this part of the tale does not emerge until over 100 pages into the book. Because this is a story of a man who had to break before he could fly. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie