Posted in Travel

Switzerland Is Sweeter The Nth Time Around

Shortly before Christmas one of my surgeons asked me where I’d be celebrating the holidays and I answered guilelessly that I’d be going to Switzerland. He was rendered speechless for all of 5 seconds before asking me if I was secretly a millionaire.

People think of Switzerland as this uber expensive, ultra-posh country where the rich and famous go on ski holidays. But for me, Switzerland has always been my home away from home. My nearest relative, apart from my sister, lives in Switzerland and she would always welcome me with open arms whenever I’d get the notion to escape London for a while.

I remember one time I was having a horrendously bad week at work, culminating in a Friday where I had a horrific row with the surgeon I was working with. It was a sure sign of how overworked I was because my composure around orthopaedic surgeons is usually unflappable.

Anyway, I cancelled all my bank shifts because I told our coordinator I was on the brink of a nervous breakdown (haha) and booked an EasyJet flight to Zurich. Its become something of a running joke between that surgeon and I actually (we eventually made up, sort of).

So yeah, going to Switzerland is like going home. My cousin is awesome at all things household-related and stepping into her home is like stepping into a bed and breakfast. Her cooking is awesome; when she visited me for my 30th birthday I must have gained a good 3kilos because of all the scrumptious home-cooked meals I was being treated to.

For the holidays, my mum and my cousin’s mum came over to visit, and because the UK requires a separate visa (apart from the Schengen visa) for tourists wishing to come visit, my sister and I decided that it’d be better for us to go to Switzerland instead.

I really really needed the time away from London. I don’t think I could have withstood another couple of days of watching myself mope around the house. I was starting to annoy myself with how pathetic I was being over (of all things) a guy. Of course, I did a lot of moping in Switzerland as well but at least it was moping with a view. Lol

I’ve been to the Rhine Falls several times – its an obligatory stop when you visit Switzerland -and its never failed to lift my mood. There is just something so satisfying about being able to see and be one with nature after months and months of living with the relentless pace of the concrete jungle that is London (no, Hyde Park doesn’t count).

Getting to spend time with Mum was an added bonus. I love my Mum. There is something to be said about a woman who will still rub Vicks on her sick 30-year-old daughter because she’s coughing so badly that she can’t sleep (yeah, I was unwell for most of this trip). Check out my very youthful and lovely mum!

The Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day lunch were every bit as good as I expected it to be, so good in fact that I went on my annual post-christmas 3k guilt run just to help burn off all those extra calories (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t enough but whatever).

So yeah, it was a very Merry Christmas indeed and I’m pretty sure I’m over whatever funk I was in a couple of weeks ago. A change in scenery was just what the doctor ordered.

Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas holiday, blabbaholics! 😘

Posted in Books, Reviews

Book Review: Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough

I’m sorry but this is not going to be the most coherent of reviews. My emotions after reading this book and its ending can be summed up in three words:

My apologies for the expletive but there can be no other reaction to this utter mindf***of a novel. I cannot believe that the author actually went there. Towards the end, I wasn’t actually sure what kind of novel I was reading; the only thing I was sure about was that the characters in this book are all totally batshit crazy.

Mild spoilers ahead people! 

Okay so it starts out as a normal thriller. Lonely divorcee Louise meets rich, handsome married psychiatrist and has an affair with him. The other complication? She also strikes up a friendship with his beautiful wife Adele. As she gets entangled in their complicated marriage and the secrets of their past, Louise finds herself unsure of who she can trust. Her lover who has violent tendencies but seems to be so gentle when he’s with her? Or her new best friend who seems to only want what’s best for her?

I honestly don’t know how to even write this review. As I power read through the chapters I find myself growing more and more confused; at one point I thought for sure that this was going to be like John Cusack in Identity and that they were all really one person with one hell of a  multiple personality disorder and a clusterf*** of a life. I could not understand where the author was going with the narrative. This book’s whole marketing campaign had apparently been all about the “twist” and how it had “the most shocking ending you’ll read all year”.

Well, let me tell you something about that ending. 

Fine, okay. It managed to get a reaction out of me. My mind was completely blown, I can’t deny that. But if I think too hard about it, it doesn’t actually make any sense! And what’s even stranger is that in a weird sort of way, after you think about it a little more, it kind of does make a little bit of sense. I can’t explain it without giving it away but its the kind of twist that will generate a lot of discussion and will surely polarise readers; some will hate it, others will go gaga over it. I’m not a huge fan of it myself, but it sure added layers to the story and if you suspend belief for one second (or more) it does kinda grow on you.

Okay, there’s more to review than just the ending. There are some themes in this novel that number among my least favourite literary tropes. Infidelity, for example. I have really strong feelings about cheating and I think that there’s never any justification for breaking your marital vows. At the same time I’ve always been determined not to judge other people who have extra-marital affairs mostly because, having never faced that kind of situation myself, I can never fully say how I would react to the prospect of an affair with a married man. Love and lust can make you do crazy things after all.

And there it is. At the heart of this crazy, strange and utterly psychotic story is the fact that love for another human being can make you do things you wouldn’t normally do. Think about a mother who would give her life for her child, or a friend donating a kidney to a dying friend; love is at the heart of all those things, and when that love becomes all-consuming, when the other person becomes the one thing you see and value to the exclusion of everything else (even yourself) I think that’s when love becomes dangerous.

On a slightly lighter note, I think that this novel is also a cautionary tale that people should just MIND THEIR OWN DAMN BUSINESS. Some of the things that Louise did in this novel made me cringe. I mean come on, there’s busybody and intrusive, and then there was Louise in this story. Her reactions to certain situations were so annoying that I was screaming at the book as if I could get through to her. I mean there are a lot of things that I would do for a friend but she’s crossed so many lines in this book that I cannot even begin to describe it. And Louise is supposed to be the sane and sensible one in this story. That tells you a lot about how crazy the other characters are.

Anyway, to read this book and enjoy it you just have to be prepared to take it as it is and not dissect the hell out of it. Its escapist reading at its finest certainly, and it will sure take your mind off your problems at work or the flu you’re nursing (or your broken heart). I almost wish we could have picked this for book club meeting next month because I can already imagine the kind of fiery debate that this book will generate. But alas, this choice was vetoed by other members. I’m still thankful to the book club members who recommended this to me, though. I can’t say that I’m totally happy with it, but I sure enjoyed it enough to finish it in only 6 hours.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars because okay, that ending was actually good the more I think about it. Lol. Kudos to the author for thumbing her nose at naysayers and just going for the unexpected, no matter what!

Get this book for a good price on Amazon by clicking on the image below.