Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bon Voyage!

I travel a lot - I like to travel and see new places. I think my recent reading reflects this as I have read about a Coffee Shop in Kabul while on a plane to Singapore - I have read about the Quality of Silence in a environmental mystery while on the plane to South Africa. I have enjoyed the romance of being a Tea Planters Daughter in India while staying in the Cape and the joys on board The Little Paris Bookshop set on a barge in France from my garden in Port Elizabeth. But I will start with a grand novel written in the 80s set in Singapore before and during the Japanese occupation, which I read in Singapore!

"The Malay words for red earth are tana merah and I deem this to be the perfect name for a house which will, I hope, be home to our family for generations to come."

Dexter is an old family name in Singapore - Grandpa Jack arrived int eh late 1800s and built a huge financial empire out of real estate rubber and tin, Tanamera begins in 1830 and is focused  around  grandson John and his love affair with Julie - a half Chinese daughter of wealthy neighbours - but interrelations are out of the question and they prepare to face a future without each other. The war comes and things change dramatically for the colonial life in Singapore and for the Dexters. This sweeping epic was great to read while in Singapore as many of the streets and buildings remain. I was interested to understand the history of Singapore and its peoples and how they experienced life during the Japanese occupation. Its an old book and it was made into a TV series and I can see why - the story brings history alive on its pages and i loved it and left Singapore richer for reading it!

Deborah Rodriguez has captured the nuances of daily life of the  people of Kabul in a remarkable coffee shop in the middle of Afghanistan. Thrown together by circumstances, bonded by secrets and united in friendship it is a charming story of Sunny and the love of her life - her coffee shop! It's pitched as a cup of friendship but I found this cuppa too sweet for my liking - after a promising start with Yazmina - orphaned daughter from rural Afghanistan - being abducted and sold into a sordid life of human trafficking - I thought I had another Kite Runner in my hands but sadly it didn't do it for me. Having said that, most of my bookclub loved this book  and it comes well recommended from Amazon and Good Reads. i  felt it had the potential to be  darker, stronger and slightly bitter - the way I enjoy my coffee - less cappuccino and more espresso!

The Little Paris Bookshop - From the Jacket...........

Monsieur Perdu can prescribe the perfect book for a broken heart. But can he fix his own?
Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives. I enjoyed it - a light easy read - well written - great characters and set in France - pure escapism!

The Quality of Silence is a page turner set in Alaska and tells the story of a wife who refuses to believe that her husband has been killed in an explosion and fire at a gas mining settlement in the midst of the frozen Tundra. She sets off to find him with their deaf daughter Ruby and finds herself being stalked by a menacing vehicle hellbent on preventing them. Its a story of industrial espionage and you really don't know who is on whose side until the final pages. Its a story for today - I loved the topic and the gutsy heroine and the beautifully captured language of a small girl who has never heard the words. Great read! 

I took a chance with The Tea Planters Daughter - I liked the jacket and it popped up in my Amazon feed so I bought it for 99p. I enjoyed it and just downloaded the sequel- The Tea Planters Bride- another 99p investment! Set in India and then in Newcastle, it really reminded me of those dramatic Catherine Cookson novels which were addictive reading in the 80s. A strong female heroine - a wicked family and a tall dark handsome man in pursuit - all the right ingredients for an enjoyable 'soapie'. It was a great holiday read and I love novels set in India - I seem to be on an Indian treasure hunt at the moment as I enjoyed the British TV series Indian Summers and am currently enjoying the BBC documentary of The Real Marigold Hotel. Viceroy is a film I am looking forward to seeing too ........and tonight I had curry for supper so things are hotting up! 

So you see - you can travel the world from your armchair - Bon Voyage!