Sunday, July 17, 2016

A good book, a comfy chair and plenty of quiet time is a great combination!

It a long time since I have had time to sit and read quietly for hours but Vs illness and isolation have meant that he just wants a presence at his bedside and not necessarily conversation, and there being a lazy boy recliner in there, I have been able to read and read and read some more. After months of snatching a chapter before bed or a few pages in a break,  I had forgotten the pleasure of reading a book almost in one sitting and getting completely lost in a story. Bliss!
What I have enjoyed......
I am currently reading YEAR of WONDERS by Geraldine Brook. Bookclub loved her novel PEOPLE of the BOOK and I stumbled across this earlier novel by chance. Its a wonderful read (and very cheap on Amazon Kindle)
The novel is set in an English village in the year 1666 - the year of the Great Plague of London. Plague is carried to their village through a bolt of cloth and as every household is affected, Anna, the main character, emerges as unlikely heroine and healer. As the plague sweeps through the village bringing death to each household the villages turn from prayers to murderous witch hunting. As Anna struggles to survive and grow - a year of catastrophe becomes a year of wonders! It is based on the true story of the village of Eyam and is wonderfully researched and written in the style of the day. I am loving each page and can barely wait for my hours in the lazyboy tomorrow when I know the year of wonders will come to an end!

Before this I read two 'big' books. Each with over 600 pages which I would never tackle mid year normally but again - the blessing of an isolation ward and a comfy chair have made this possible, For author, Lucinder Riley, this is a seven book project and having read the first two book I am looking forward to number three! Each book is set to tell the story of seven sisters adopted as babies in unusual circumstances by their wealthy 'father' a mysterious man they know as Pa Salt. The first book THE SEVEN SISTERS starts with them gathered at their home on the shores of Lake Geneva as they mourn his death and each one of them is left geographical coordinates and a letter with clues to their identity. The first sister Maia traces her birthplace to South America and a crumbling mansion in Rio ......and so unravels the fascinating history of her biological family. As this novel ends so it links to the second sister, Ally -THE STORM SISTER - who is a talented yachtswoman and realises she stumbled across her fathers burial at sea - not knowing that is what was happening when she encounters his yacht moored off the coast and before she has had the news of his death. Ally's clues to her birthplace see her abandoning her ocean racing career to explore the icy beauty of Norway and Grieg's Peer Gynt suite to explore her other gift - her musical talent - and her links to a talented and yet unknown young singer and another compelling story unfolds.
When I heard Maggie O Farrel had a new book out I pre-ordered it and just on time it appeared on my Kindle like magic. She is one of my favourite authors and I have read everything she has written and have never been disappointed. Her latest novel, THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, is her finest yet and is that rare literary beast - technically dazzling and deeply moving.It leaps effortlessly across continents, relationships and time frames and at its centre is a story about people who are lost, flawed and troubled as they struggle to connect with those that they love. The main character is Daniel Sullivan, an Irish American linguistics lecturer, who at the start of the book is living with his reclusive, ex movie star wife, Claudette in the isolated Donegal countryside. He is on the way to his fathers 90th birthday when he hears something on the radio which mentions the fate of an old girlfriend from decades ago and this sends him careering across continents and into his past - a quest that threatens his marriage and his sanity and the very threads that hold his life together. The story is woven like an intricate tapestry and one cannot help but be impressed by the authors use of perspective, grammatical tense and style as each chapter is narrated by a different charachter and their point of view. Brilliant is the only word to describe her writing and ability to hold the reader in her hand.

I have also enjoyed ORPHAN NUMBER 8 by Kim Van Alkemade, a fasinatng story inspired by true events, of a woman who must choose between revenge and mercy when encountering the woman who subjected her to dangerous medical experiments when she was in a Jewish New York orphanage some years before. The book also contains actual photographs and records of the orphanage run by the Jewish church in New York during the depression which makes the story more believable and the choice more real. Excellent read!