Sunday, 26 February 2012

Indie book reviews: Wild Life by Susan Wells Bennett

Last year I read another book of Susan’s called Circle City Blues, which I enjoyed immensely, so I decided to try this one too - the first book in The Brass Monkey Series - and I wasn’t disappointed. The same good writing, tight plot creation and sense of humour is still there. I enjoyed the setting of the zoo, and the way in which the chapter names are linked to animals and the way they act.
The central character is Milo Crosby, a likeable character and a bit eccentric. When I began reading, I didn’t think I’d like him as he seemed a bit dodgy at the start, but then as you read on you learn his background story and his personality begins to fill out. I ended up liking him a lot. He’s funny and interesting, but has some flaws, like most of the characters. I found it funny when he began to realise that women still found him attractive – at his age, he didn’t seem to think this was remotely possible and I thought it was like someone had turned the light on for him! The not-so-central characters are detailed and nicely drawn, from Milo’s rather intelligent though young granddaughter to the trashy but fun Sondra Lane.

Family plays an important part with some of the characters coming to terms with things that have happened in the past and attempting to reconcile events or their own feelings. There are Milo’s relationships with his son, granddaughter Alice Marie, Claire and an ageing movie star, Sondra Lane, and ghosts from his past. And then there is Claire with her sister Beryl  and her parents.

I liked Claire and was rooting for her.  When I began reading I started realising there was more to her than meets the eye and an interesting background story emerged. You want to find out more about her. You know there's something there.

This book is a rich mix of fun, tragedy, love and loss. The relation of the past and the present is important – the way the past sneaks in to stop you living fully in the present and some characters have some ghosts to put to rest. At the end you wonder what the future holds for these myriad characters. So I’ve just bought the second book, Charmed Life, which, the blurb says, focuses on Sondra Lane – now that should be interesting!

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