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Saturday, 18 January 2020

#BookReview HOUSEKEEPING by MARILYNNE ROBINSON



ABOUT THE BOOK

A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. The family house is in the small Far West town of Fingerbone set on a glacial lake, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck, and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town "chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere." Ruth and Lucille's struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.

PUBLISHED BY  MACMILLAN

224 pages

MY REVIEW

This was the January choice for the GoodReads Book Club I am part of  - Readalongs With Karen

This was an unexpected little gem of a book! I knew nothing of it before I picked up a copy, and found myself totally swept along with the compelling and often heartbreaking story of 2 sisters who are dealing with a number of tragedies in their lives, but they have one another. Lucille and Ruth are devoted to one another as they're pushed from pillar to post with various family members over the years, until they settle down with their Aunt Sylvie.

What becomes clear is that Sylvie is not the most stable of women to be caring for 2 young girls, but there's something about her that Ruth and Lucille connect with, even if that means they live a very unstable life while under the care of Sylvie. Skipping school becomes the norm, and haphazard meals is what they come to expect.

As the girls grow, they start to become their own people, none more so than Lucille and she seems to crave 'normality' and finds herself drifting apart from her sister and aunt to live a more conventional life. So Ruth becomes more attached to her aunt and the two of them seem more like sisters at time.

This was beautifully written and a haunting read as you cared for these women as they'd been scarred by so much tragedy in their lives. It's a subtle story that never goes OTT and one to be savoured.

★★★★

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - 18th January 2020


Hello all! And welcome back to the weekend! Been a fairly quiet week for me, although keep hearing sad news so I'm already looking forward to seeing the back of January! I hate New Year!

On to books, and I've only managed to finish 1 book off this week which is a bit of a slow down for me! I've spent more evenings doing xstitch than reading this past week so that's cut down my reading time, but seeing as I've just downloaded a new 50 page xstitch chart, I need to find ways to fit more stitching time into my day! I really should find less time consuming hobbies!

And remember me saying I was going to spend less time at Netgalley.... 3 new additions over there this week! I fail!! I'll try to do better next week..... honest!

BOOKS FINISHED



BOOKHAUL

Netgalley.... here we go again.....

THE NINTH CHILD by SALLY MAGNUSSON
publication date - March 2020

A spellbinding novel of a young doctor's wife, Isabel Aird, struggling to make her childless life meaningful, unaware that the sinister Robert Kirke is watching her every move, by the Sunday Times bestselling author Sally Magnusson.
Loch Katrine waterworks, 1856. A Highland wilderness fast becoming an industrial wasteland. No place for a lady.
But Isabel Aird, denied the motherhood role society expects of her by a succession of miscarriages, is comforted by a place where she can feel the presence of her lost children and begin to work out what her life is for.
No matter that the hills echo with the gunpowder blasts of men tunnelling day and night to bring fresh water to diseased Glasgow thirty miles away - digging so deep that there are those who worry they are disturbing the land of faery itself.
New life is quickening within her again. While her husband is engaged with the medical emergencies of the construction site, Isabel can only wait.
But someone else is waiting too. The man in the dark coat, watching for the right moment with a huntsman's eye . . .
By turns spellbinding and heart-pounding, The Ninth Child is set at a pivotal time in the Victorian era, when engineering innovation and new ideas flourished but women did not. Through the dual lens of history and folklore it captures a woman's struggle to make her life matter, and a compromised man's struggle with himself.

CONFESSIONS OF A FORTY-SOMETHING F*** UP by ALEXANDRA POTTER
out April 2020

Hilarious, poignant, and utterly relatable, Confessions of a Forty-Something F### Up is a must-read for anyone whose life isn't working out quite how they'd planned.
Nell Stevens' life is a mess.
Until recently she's been living in America with Ethan, her fiancé. But when her bookshop-cum-café goes bust - along with her relationship and all her savings - she moves back to London to start over.
But a lot has changed since she's been gone. All her single friends are happily married with children and with rents sky-high she's forced to rent a room while she looks for a job.
Left out of the mummy club, Nell feels left behind, she misses her friends. When an old work contact gets her a job writing obituaries, she meets Cricket, an eighty-something widow who never had kids and they strike up an unlikely friendship.
Whereas Nell's friends are all busy with their families, all Cricket's friends are dying off. They help each other cope with the loss of their old lives and navigate towards new ones with optimism, poignancy and humour. Everyone has a path to their perfect life. It's knowing when to take the right turn.
Instantly relatable in an Instagram-perfect world, Confessions of a Forty Something F### Up is for women of any age who wonders why life isn't working out quite how she imagined.


THE PARIS LIBRARY by JANET SKESLIEN CHARLES
publication date - June 2020

Paris, 1939. Odile Souchet is obsessed with books and the Dewey Decimal System, which makes order out of chaos. She soon has it all – a handsome police officer beau, an English best friend, a beloved twin, and a job at the American Library in Paris, a thriving community of students, writers, diplomats, and book lovers. Yet when war is declared, there's also a war on words.

Montana, 1983. Widowed and alone, Odile suffers the solitary confinement of small-town life. Though most adults are cowed by her, the neighbor girl will not let her be. Lily, a lonely teenager yearning to break free of Froid is obsessed by the older French woman who lives next door and wants to know her secrets.

As the two become friends, Odile sees herself in Lily – the same love of language, the same longings, the same lethal jealousy. The Paris Library’s dual narratives explore the relationships that make us who we are – family and friends, first loves and favorite authors – in the fairy tale setting of the City of Light. It also explores the geography of resentment, the consequences of unspeakable betrayal, and what happens when the people we count on for understanding and protection fail us.

The wit, empathy, and deep research that brings The Paris Library to life also brings to light a cast of lively historical characters and a little-known chapter of World War II history: the story of the American librarian, Miss Reeder, who created the Soldiers’ Service to deliver books to servicemen, and who later faced the Nazi ‘Book Protector’ in order to keep her library open. She and her colleagues defied the Bibliotheksschutz by delivering books to Jewish readers after they were forbidden from entering the library.

 HAMNET by MAGGIE O'FARRELL
publication date - 31st March 2020

Extremely chuffed to have received a proof of this from the publicist this week!


Drawing on Maggie O'Farrell's long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare's most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.

Award-winning author Maggie O'Farrell's new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.

REAL LIFE by ADELINE DIEUDONNE
copy for review ahead of the February Blog tour


A fierce and poetic debut on surviving the wilderness of family life

At home there are four rooms: one for her, one for her brother, one for her parents…and one for the carcasses. The father is a big game hunter, a powerful predator; the mother is submissive to her violent husband’s demands. The young narrator spends the days with her brother, playing in the shells of cars dumped for scrap and listening out for the chimes of the ice-cream truck, until a brutal accident shatters their world. The uncompromising pen of Adeline Dieudonné wields flashes of brilliance as she brings her characters to life in a world that is both dark and sensual. This breathtaking debut is a sharp and funny coming-of-age tale in which reality and illusion collide.



CURRENTLY READING




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HAPPY READING!


















Thursday, 16 January 2020

#BlogTour THE LADY OF THE RAVENS by JOANNA HICKSON #BookReview #LadyOfTheRavens @HarperFiction @joannahickson


Hugely delighted to be the latest stop on the wonderful Blog Tour for THE LADY OF THE RAVENS by JOANNA HICKSON.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of  Random Things Tours for allowing me to be part of it all and sharing my thoughts!


JOANNA HICKSON 

9th January 2020 | Hardback | Ebook | Audio | £14.99 


Praise for Joanna Hickson: 

‘A great tale… the golden thread that led to the crown of England’  
Conn Iggulden 

‘An intriguing tale, told with confidence’ The Times 

‘Rich and warm’ Sunday Express 

 ‘Bewitching…alive with historical detail’ Good Housekeeping 

My baptismal name may be Giovanna but here in my mother’s adopted country I have become plain Joan; I am not pink-cheeked and golden-haired like the beauties they admire. I have olive skin and dark features – black brows over ebony eyes and hair the colour of a raven’s wing… 

When Joan Vaux is sent to live in the shadow of the Tower of London, she must learn to navigate the treacherous waters of this new England under the Tudors. Like the ravens, Joan must use her eyes and her senses, if Henry and his new dynasty are to prosper and thrive … 

PURCHASE LINKS



Goldsboro Books - signed first edition



About the author: 


Joanna Hickson spent twenty-five years presenting and producing News and Arts programmes for the BBC. Her first published book was a children’s historical novel Rebellion at Orford Castle but more recently she has turned to adult fiction, concentrating on bringing fifteenth century English history and some of its fascinating principal characters to life. She is married with a large family and gets inspiration from her Wiltshire farmhouse home, which dates back to her chosen period.  




MY REVIEW


This is the first book I've read from this author and I'm already itching to read her other historical offerings, as I found this to be both absorbing and informative and loved finding out even more about the Tudor period and the characters surrounding the court of King Henry VII's.   And with the story of Joan being so captivating and full of material, I was instantly transported back as this story takes us chronologically through the goings on at a very interesting period of history.

Joan becomes a lady in waiting to Elizabeth, Henry's Queen, and seeing the world at that time through both their eyes was fascinating.  Joan is adamant she wants more from life than just to be a mother, where that is all that Elizabeth expects her role to be! Her King needs heirs.  Seeing the expectations placed on women at that time is really brought home in an easy and accessible way through this storyline, and with all the royal goings on in the news at the moment, it is still shocking to see that in the past it was all decided  politically and by others - where does love get you anyway?!

I loved how the characters around the royals related the story - the gossiping while they worked, the clothing they wore and how much work went into preparing the clothing for the big events such as the wedding.  

The expectations on Joan to marry were difficult for her and it seemed in the end that she married to stay close to the Tower and the ravens who she had such a fascination and respect for.  The way she dealt with being a stepmother means she's thrown in at the deep end, but she seemed to be one of those women who were wise beyond her years and could cope with pretty much anything that was thrown her way. Her one big fear though was pregnancy and it was enlightening to see the ways she tried to avoid that event happening to her!

Another aspect of the story I loved was discovering different palaces that are now long gone - when they were mentioned by name I found myself researching them online and it opened up more interest for me on this time of history. Why was it never this fascinating to me when I was at school?!

Seeing the story from both Joan and Elizabeth's point of view, made this for such an entertaining historical read and I'm glad to have found a new author to me who does a wonderful job of sharing her passion for history through relatable and fascinating characters. Highly recommended.

★★★★