It’s book club time and it’s perhaps a melancholy choice this week. For no particular reason, it just worked out that way. E’s choice first.
Well I say E’s choice but actually it’s mine. E hasn’t got to this yet. I found this in a shop in a local tourist attraction that often carries remaindered books. I couldn’t leave it behind – it’s lovely. Addis Berner Bear comes to the city and finds it big and confusing. He walks around carrying a small black case and forgets what he has left behind and why he has come. He stats to find places and people he can trust, including a small girl and an old homeless woman. He sees many things, strange and beautiful sights, some terrible and distressing things and then eventually his black case gets stolen. It is then that he remembers – he has come to the city to top the bill as an amazing trumpet playing bear. His homeless friend helps him make a trumpet to replace his stolen instrument and he plays. He plays for the people of the city and he plays of all the things he has seen.
It’s a lovely story, more than heart-warming, it’s a reflection of what we’ve become, what we’ve built and how quickly we can lose sight of what’s important. And it’s ripe for a Christmas animation film version – like the Snowman and just as tear inducing.
I picked this up convinced I’d read it before and having finished it last night, I’m still not sure if I have or not. No matter. This is one of Brodrick’s crime series featuring Anselm, the Gilbertine monk and this time his investigations are closer to home. Tending his beehives in the monastery cemetery one day he watches a woman and an old man visit the grave of the friary founder and his own mentor. They are seeking answers to the death of a man in the First World War and they hoped the old monk could help. But too late. Or is it? Anselm, on the advice of his Prior, investigates instead and finds a story of war, of love, of loss.
I have about a thousand things to do this week but last night I put them all aside to finish reading this book, which is the highest compliment I can pay it. The writing is of a very high quality – easy to read, thought provoking but never maudlin or gratuitously violent. Anselm is a patient detective, not barging ahead knowing all the answers which makes a nice change. And it’s always good to find a quality war novel – one that addresses the ambiguity of the situation many men found themselves in, not always a simple fight of good and evil.
Today I went to the library and took out all their Brodrick novels so an Anselm marathon awaits.