Archive > June 2013

Someone Else’s Wedding

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Someone Else's Wedding, Tamar Cohen, book reviewSomeone Else’s Wedding by Tamar Cohen tells the story of an extremely eventful thirty six hours in the life of Fran Friedman and her family. She and her husband Saul, along with their two daughters Pip and Katie, are invited guests at the wedding of Jamie Irving and his fiancée Lucy. Things are not well with the Friedmans though and there’s nothing like a wedding to bring all of the strains and tensions between them to the surface.

Someone Else’s Wedding is told in thirty six chapters, each one focusing on a particular hour. Through this, we gradually get to learn about Fran and the complex relationship she has with her husband and the troubled lives of her two daughters.


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Bay of Secrets

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Bay of Secrets by Rosanna Ley, book reviewIn 2011, the Catholic Church in Spain was hit by the scandal of niños robados (stolen babies). It was revealed that in Franco’s Spain just after the Spanish Civil War, from 1939, many poor women on the losing Republican side went into hospitals to give birth, and were told that their babies had been stillborn, or had mysteriously died soon after birth. In fact, children had been sold to families who were rich enough to pay, and who were loyal to the new regime.

Many of Spain’s public services, such as health, welfare and social services were run by the Church, with nuns working as nurses.


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Kind of Kin

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Kind of Kin, Rilla Askew, book reviewRilla Askew’s Kind of Kin is set in Oklahoma, shortly after the passing of a new law which makes it a felony to harbour illegal immigrants. Ten year old Dustin’s grandfather is arrested after he is caught with a barnful of migrant workers, leaving Dustin with only his Aunt Sweet to look after him. Dustin doesn’t deal too well with his change in circumstances and having to live with his bullying cousin, so with his grandfather refusing to speak in court or help himself, Dustin ends up running away with an immigrant called Luis who managed to evade the police, while Sweet is left behind trying to hold things together.

The setting of Kind of Kin is quite interesting, the characters are lower class and struggle to make ends meet, with the exception of Monica Moorehouse, the politician who brought about the new law.


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The Foster Husband

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The Foster Husband, Pippa Wright, book reviewThe Foster Husband is Pippa Wright’s third novel and the first one that I had read from her. It promised to be a light, easy read just perfect for long summer evenings. I did really enjoy it although the title is a bit misleading as the ‘foster husband’ in question does not feature as much as I was expecting.

The Foster Husband tells the story of Kate who, after leaving her home time of Lyme Regis, gained a glamorous show biz career and a gorgeous husband. However, years later, she has returned to her home town with no husband and no job. She ends up living in her recently deceased grandmother’s bungalow trying to make some sense of what her life has become.


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Motorcycle Diaries Across India

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Motorcycle Diaries Across India by Jay S Babu, book reviewMotorcycle Diaries Across India by Jay S Babu was my latest temporary acquisition from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library which offers free e-book ‘loans’ to members of their Amazon Prime scheme. Unlike the other downloads which I’ve tended to race through, leaving myself kicking my heels waiting for the end of the month so I could pick the next one, I had to sit myself down, give myself a good talking to and then force myself to finish it. Having challenged myself to download a freebie, read and review it each month, I was struggling for sufficient enthusiasm to get through this one.

The author is Indian and the trip he describes was taken back in 1966. It’s not clear to me whether it was written up and published at that time or whether he’s written it several decades later and then published it.


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Yellow Star

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Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy, book reviewYellow Star by Jennifer Roy is the true story of Sylvia Perlmutter Rozines, a child survivor of the Lodz Ghetto. Most of us think we know the horrors perpetuated by the Nazis on the Jews of Europe, but the treatment of Polish Jews in the ghettos is less well documented in popular literature than that of people in the refugee camps. The term ‘ghetto’ tends to be used these days for any area of a city where people of similar ethnic background tend to gravitate and live together. In the Second World War the Nazis established ghettos as a way to keep all their ‘undesirables’ together to make them easier to control, to abuse or to exploit as a labour force.


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The Son-in-Law

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The Son-in-Law, Charity Norman, book reviewI have just finished reading Charity Norman’s latest novel, The Son-in-Law and what a fabulous read it turned out to be. I was so gripped by this wonderfully complex tale that I did not want to finish it. The final page was a bitter-sweet experience – a mixture of huge enjoyment for a story well told amid a sense of loss that there was no more to be read. It’s not often that I read a book that is as immensely satisfying as this one. So, what is it, you are probably asking, that makes it so good?

Joseph Scott is the son-in-law. Four years ago, in a fit of rage, he killed his wife Zoe in front of their three children. He was sentenced for manslaughter; served four years of his sentence; and is now out of prison hoping to start a new relationship with his children.


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Enemies of the Heart

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Enemies of the Heart, Rebecca Dean, book reviewAs a long-time fan of Penny Vincenzi, when I was looking for an indulgent and absorbing read during the recent bank holiday weekend, I searched for authors like her – and one suggestion which came up was Enemies of the Heart by Rebecca Dean. Liking the description of it, I immediately downloaded the novel to my Kindle and got stuck in.

Enemies of the Heart opens in 1909, when cousins Zelda and Vicky are visiting Berlin. American Zelda has her eye on Josef Remer, heir to the immense House of Remer steelworks and fortune, while quieter Vicky falls for the shyer Berthold Remer. When war breaks out in 1914 though, the family is pulled apart and loyalties are tested.


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Chaos Theory

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Chaos Theory,  Anuvab Pal, book reviewThere’s an interesting theory in physics about apparently random events which can be predicted because there is an underlying system to it – part of it is what we call the butterfly effect, the theory that the flap of a butterfly’s wings could call a storm in Brazil. Roughly speaking that is the story of Chaos Theory, Anuvab Pal’s novel adapted from his play of the same name.

Sunita and Mukesh are two English literature students who bump into each other as freshers at St Stephen’s College in Delhi during the sixties. Mukesh is attracted and tries to win over Sunita with a quotations game – only to discover to his surprise that she knows as much about Shakespeare than he does. His ego is slightly hurt but the two of them embark on a relationship based solely on quotations which leads them from India to the US, traversing various US universities in search of jobs and romance.


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Gone Girl

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Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, book reviewJust how well do you know the person you love? I expect many people would answer that question without thinking much about it: “very well”, “absolutely”, or “completely”. On the day of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne may well have given one of these stock phrases as well.

On that day he came home early from the bar that he runs with his twin sister Margot, responding to a phone call from a worried neighbour who has seen his front door wide open and his indoor-only cat Bleecker sitting outside. It was probably nothing; the man was a habitual drunk, after all. But Nick arrives home and finds the door really is open, and the cat is on the porch, apparently reluctant to go back inside.


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Remarkable Creatures

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Remarkable Creatures, Tracy Chevalier, book reviewThis article is part of our Holiday Reads 2013 series. Remarkable Creatures is Rosanna Ley’s recommendation. Quercus published her  book, Bay of Secrets on May 9th, 2013. You can read our review of the book here.

This is a perfect holiday read for anyone who loves the Jurassic coast of Dorset as much as I do. The novel is set in Lyme Regis in the earlyish 1800s and the limelight of point of view is shared by the young, working-class girl Mary Anning and an educated but down at heel spinster Elizabeth Philpott. Both characters are real people with an interesting story to tell.

Mary Anning survived being struck by lightning as a baby and this event has given her ‘the eye,’ meaning that she can spot fossils she calls ‘curies’ on the beaches of Lyme Bay.

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Frida Kahlo, Pain and Passion

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Frida Kahlo, Pain and Passion Andrea Kettenmann, book reviewA few years ago whilst visiting a friend in Lisbon, we were lucky enough to see an exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s work at the city’s Centro Cultural de Belem. At the time my husband was really excited because he’d bought a load of Taschen artist profile books and had just been reading up about Frida. He knew her paintings from the pages of a book and not from actually standing in front of them.

Last summer whilst visiting a big museum in the North East, I saw a book which contained photos of Frida, Diego and their friends, gulped at the price, returned home and put it on my Amazon wish list. For Christmas I picked up a second hand copy for my husband and when I finally got round to looking at it, I realised very quickly that the photographs would mean a lot more to me if I knew more about Frida. I went to the bookshelf with all our art books and pulled down Andrea Kettenmann’s book, Frida Kahlo, Pain and Passion.


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