Monthly Archives: March 2016

A Summer at Sea – Katie Fforde

A Summer at Sea - Katie Fforde

A Summer at Sea – Katie Fforde

I do like Katie Fforde novels – they’re so comforting in their sameness and yet I learn something new. Some work better than others and I think this is one of her better ones – it even has knitting!

Here’s the blurb …

She has a career as a midwife that she loves . She enjoys living on her own as a single woman. But she’s also feels it’s time for a change and a spot of some sea air. So when her best friend Rebecca asks whether she’d like to spend the summer cooking on a ‘puffer’ boat just off the Scottish coast, she jumps at the chance. But she barely has time to get to grips with the galley before she finds herself with a lot on her plate. Rebecca is heavily pregnant and is thrilled to have her friend on board doing most of the work. Then there’s Emily’s competitive and jealous kitchen assistant who thinks she should be head-cook, not Emily. And there’s Alasdair, the handsome local doctor who Emily is desperately trying not to notice. Because if she falls in love with him, as he appears to be falling for her, will she ever want her old life back again?

I think the blurb pretty much says it all – sometimes I think the conflict is contrived, but this time it was quite reasonable.  This is a fun, easy to read romance, which none the less is well-written (there is nothing jarring about it at all).

Another review …

http://www.pendletoday.co.uk/what-s-on/reviews/book-review-a-summer-at-sea-by-katie-fforde-1-7734638

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Filed under Fiction - Light, Recommended

Madame Bovary’s Haberdashery – Maurilia Meehan

Madame Bovary's Haberdashery

Madame Bovary’s Haberdashery – Maurilia Meehan

Who could resist a title like that? I found this in a second hand book store in Albany and couldn’t resist.

Here is the blurb …

Zac, a translator of Flaubert, can’t believe his luck. He ends up sleeping with Odette, a beautiful but capricious ceramic artist, and her best friend, Cicely, a talented knitter and author of an erotic novel. As well as an interest in Madame Bovary the three share a brief ménage à trois. That is, until things unravel in unexpected ways, Cicely adopts the logical detection methods of a Miss Marple, and we come to know the delightful Miss Ball and her haberdashery.

In a plot that plays with the conventions of the mystery, and delightfully subverts one of its treasured finales, this delicious novel is not afraid to be literary and fun and sexy all at once. Award-winning novelist Maurilia Meehan deftly pays homage to both Christie and Flaubert, while also creating a true original: the first in a series of delightful page-turners for lovers of noir, passion and great literature.

It was the perfect holiday read – easy to read, a bit exciting and there was knitting.

More reviews …

https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/about/98-april-2013-no-350/1438-maurilia-meehan-madame-bovary-s-haberdashery

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/madame-bovarys-haberdashery-20130510-2jcyd.html

 

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Dept of Speculation – Jenny Offill

Dept. of Speculation - Jenny Offill

Dept. of Speculation – Jenny Offill

This was recommended by a friend who happens to be a great writer, so I was keen to read it.

Here is the blurb …

Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all.

Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes—a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.

With cool precision, in language that shimmers with rage and wit and fierce longing, Jenny Offill has crafted an exquisitely suspenseful love story that has the velocity of a train hurtling through the night at top speed. Exceptionally lean and compact,Dept. of Speculation is a novel to be devoured in a single sitting, though its bracing emotional insights and piercing meditations on despair and love will linger long after the last page.

The style of this novel is what really sets it apart – it is a series of paragraphs that seem unconnected and yet somehow convey a story. It also moves around in time (what I mean is that the story is not told linearly) and sometimes it’s first person and sometimes third. It is worth reading more than once – I enjoyed my first reading, but loved my second.

More reviews …

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/review-dept-of-speculation-by-jenny-offill-20140722-zt3yy.html

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/14/dept-speculation-review-jenny-offill

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Filed under Fiction, Recommended

H is for Hawk – Helen MacDonald

H is for Hawk - Helen MacDonald

H is for Hawk – Helen MacDonald

Several people suggested that I read this, but I resisted. The blurb (see below) didn’t really appeal to me – I am not all that interested in birds and I had a terrible relationship with my Dad, so I didn’t want to be reminded of what I didn’t have, but eventually I gave in and read it. I am glad I did because it is not just about birds and grief, it is about finding your way to live in the world.

Here is the blurb …

When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer, Helen had never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk, but in her grief, she saw that the goshawk’s fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White’s chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself “in the hawk’s wild mind to tame her” tested the limits of Macdonald’s humanity and changed her life.
Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer’s eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.

So this is about Helen MacDonald overcoming her grief by training a goshawk, but it is also a memoir of T.H. White. And both of those are about making peace with yourself (accepting your nature and desires) and making a contented life for yourself.

I am quite nosy so I do like reading about other peoples’ lives – how they live and what they thought etc. This is a very personal story – I am in awe of anybody who can put so much of themselves into the world.

More reviews …

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/04/h-is-for-hawk-review-helen-macdonald-taming-goshawk-mabel

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/22/books/review/helen-macdonalds-h-is-for-hawk.html?_r=0

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Filed under Memoir, Non-Fiction, Recommended