Category Archives: Fiction – Light

The Break – Marian Keyes

The Break – Marian Keyes

It has been a while since Marian Keyes last book – in fact I thought she had retired – I think The Woman Who Stole My Life came out in 2014? I didn’t even know this one was coming out – just came across a huge pile in Dymocks and thought ‘yay! a holiday read’.

I have always liked her books – some more than others. They are funny, but also tackle big issues. Here is the blurb for this one …

Amy’s husband Hugh isn’t really leaving her.

At least, that’s what he promises. He is just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. For six-months Hugh will lose himself in south-east Asia, and there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.
Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .
It’s been a long time since Amy held a briefcase in one hand and a baby in the other. She never believed she’d have to go it alone again. She just has to hold the family together until Hugh comes back.
But a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?
Because falling in love is easy. The hard part – the painful, joyous, maddening, beautiful part – is staying in love.

Her books have aged/grown up as I have – now she is writing about middle-aged people with children (where I am right now) and it is refreshing to read one’s own experiences in a novel – the never-ending domestic slog, the needs of children, trying to balance family and work.

Once again, this one is witty and sad. It focuses on a modern marriage crisis – Hugh needs a break, 6 months and then he will be back. While he is gone it will be like they’re not married, i.e. he wants to be able to shag complete strangers in South East Asia. Amy is left to hold it together at home – three children, a hectic job, a mother who needs support caring for her demented husband – seems like a terrible and very selfish thing for Hugh to do, but he has suffered several bereavements and has Amy drifted away?

There are laugh out loud moments – Amy’s mother becoming an internet sensation, social commentary – going to England to procure an abortion.

As much as I liked this novel, I think there was too much of it. A bit of an edit would have made the whole thing tighter and more compelling.

Another review …

http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/book-reviews/novel-with-a-strong-moral-heart-and-plenty-of-laughs-36089516.html

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light

The Secret Garden – Katie Fforde

A Secret Garden – Katie Fforde

I read all of Katie Fforde’s books – usually in a day and some are better than others, but there is something very comforting and easy about her books.

Here is the blurb for this one…

Romance, humour and happy-ever-after endings in Katie Fforde’s brand new novel for 2017.

‘What I want to know’, said Lorna, ‘is what lies behind those ash trees at the back of the garden?

Lorna is a talented gardener and Philly is a plantswoman. Together they work in the grounds of a beautiful manor house in the Cotswolds

They enjoy their jobs and are surrounded by family and friends.

But for them both the door to true love remains resolutely closed.

So when Lorna is introduced to Jack at a dinner party and Lucien catches Philly’s eye at the local farmers market, it seems that dreams really can come true and happy endings lie just around the corner.

But do they?

Troublesome parents, the unexpected arrival of someone from Lorna’s past, and the discovery of an old and secret garden mean their lives are about to become a lot more complicated…

The deliciously romantic new novel from the No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of A Vintage Wedding, Recipe for Love, and A French Affair.

What I like about these novels is that you get to explore a new profession/job – in this one it is landscape design and growing plants (i.e. being a plantswoman).

Another review …

http://www.onemorepage.co.uk/?p=20226

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light

Reading in Bed – Sue Gee

Reading in Bed – Sue Gee

I am not sure where I first heard of this book – here maybe, but I was looking for something less grim to read after New Grub Street.

Here is the blurb …

Opening at the Hay Festival, and ending with the prospect of a spring wedding, Sue Gee’s novel is a lively story of tangled relationships and the sustaining powers of good books, loyal friends and conversation.

Friends since university, with busy working lives behind them, Dido and Georgia have long been looking forward to carefree days of books and conversation, when each finds herself caught up in unexpected domestic drama. Dido, for the first time, has cause to question her marriage; widowed Georgia feels certain her husband will return to her. Meanwhile, an eccentric country cousin goes wildly off the rails, children are unhappy in love, and perfect health is all at once in question.

This book will appeal to readers – a lot of casual mentions of reading, authors and the central place reading can take in people’s lives. It is also about friendship, family and romantic relationships and what it takes to make these relationships successful. It is witty and insightful, but also a comforting easy read.

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light

Snowdrift – Georgette Heyer

Snowdrift and other stories – Georgette Heyer

I do like Georgette Heyer novels – the regency romances the mysteries – and, so as soon as I had of this one I pre-ordered it. And then when it arrived I saved it for my trip to Rottnest – perfect!

Here’s the blurb …

Previously titled Pistols for Two, this edition includes three recently discovered short stories. A treat for all fans of Georgette Heyer, and for those who love stories full of romance and intrigue.

Affairs of honour between bucks and blades, rakes and rascals; affairs of the heart between heirs and orphans, beauties and bachelors; romance, intrigue, escapades and duels at dawn. All the gallantry, villainy and elegance of the age that Georgette Heyer has so triumphantly made her own are exquisitely revived in these wonderfully romantic stories of the Regency period.

If you have read any Heyer, then you will know exactly what this book is like. These stories are swashbuckling fun – full of beautiful girls, masterful heros and misguided young men trying to do the right thing. It is a book of short stories and it might be better to read them one at a time with a bit of a break between them because sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

More reviews …

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/snowdrift-and-other-stories-by-georgette-heyer-lsv8jt73j

http://the-history-girls.blogspot.com.au/2016/09/new-georgette-heyer-stories.html – this one is an interview with Jennifer Kloester who wrote the introduction (plus she has written a biography of Heyer)

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light, Recommended

Precious Things – Kelly Doust

Precious Things - Kelly Doust

Precious Things – Kelly Doust

I saw a poster for this in Boffins and it sounded so interesting I had to have it.

Here is the blurb …

In the tradition of gloriously absorbing, lush and moving women’s fiction by authors such as Kate Morton, Lucinda Riley and Joanne Harris comes PRECIOUS THINGS.
Normandy, France, 1891: a young woman painstakingly sews an intricate beaded collar to her wedding dress, the night before her marriage to someone she barely knows. Yet Aimee longs for so much more …
Shanghai, 1926: dancing sensation and wild child Zephyr spies what looks like a beaded headpiece lying carelessly discarded on a ballroom floor. She takes it with her to Malaya where she sets her sights on a prize so out of reach that, in striving for it, she will jeopardise everything she holds dear …
PRECIOUS THINGS tells the story of a collar – a wonderful, glittering beaded piece – and its journey through the decades. It’s also the story of Maggie, an auctioneer living in modern-day London, who comes across the crumpled, neglected collar in a box of old junk, and sets out on an unexpected mission to discover more about its secret and elusive past.
Maggie has a journey of her own too. Juggling a demanding job, a clingy young child and a rebellious stepdaughter, and with her once-solid marriage foundering under the pressure of a busy life, Maggie has to find out the hard way that you can’t always get what you want… but sometimes, you’re lucky enough to get precisely what you need.
This is a wonderful, absorbing and moving novel about desire, marriage and family, telling the story about how we so often reach out for the sparkly, shiny things (and people) we desire, only to realise – in the nick of time – that the most precious things are the ones we’ve had with us all along.

What is not to like about this novel? Beads, embroidery, mystery, interesting women’s lives. There was different times, different countries, a beautiful, but seemingly unlucky, beaded collar.

I loved it. It was a nice, easy read with some fantastic locations and characters – a trapeze artist, a painter’s muse…. It is also about relationships and the way women make things work – Lexi, taking risks and making all of the decisions, Maggie juggling a demanding job and a small child, but, also parent child relationships. As much as I loved this novel, this emotional side was a bit weak for me – I can see where she wanted to go a rich weaving of past and present connected by the collar, but I don’t think it quite got there. Having said that it is still an enjoyable novel and I think it would make a spectacular film – just imagine the costumes!

Another review …

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/precious-things-review-craft-to-the-fore-in-kelly-dousts-debut-novel-20160620-gpn6p1.html

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light, Recommended

The Dry – Jane Harper

The Dry - Jane Harper

The Dry – Jane Harper

This book is everywhere – huge piles of it at Dymocks and you could buy it cheaply from Big W. It’s ubiquity put me off, but when it was selected by my book club I was prepared to give it a go.

Here is the blurb …

Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well…
When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.
And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds start bleeding into fresh ones. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret… A secret Falk thought long-buried… A secret which Luke’s death starts to bring to the surface…

What this book did brilliantly was create the feeling of heat

The late afternoon heat draped itself around him like a blanket.

and the belligerent men at the pub (I think they come standard with all small Australian towns).

This was a real page turner I wanted to know what happened to the Hadlers, but I also wanted to know what happened to Ellie. I did guess who did it, but not why.

This was a quick and enjoyable read, which I think would make a great movie (you can almost hear the background cricket noise – the insect not the game).

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light

The Birdman’s Wife – Melissa Ashley

The Birdman's Wife -

The Birdman’s Wife – Melissa Ashley

This is a beautiful book – it has some of Elizabeth Gould’s painting reproduced on the cover and flyleaf.

This is the story of Elizabeth Gould wife of the more famous John Gould. Here is the blurb …

Inspired by a letter found tucked inside her famous husband’s papers, The Birdman’s Wife imagines the fascinating inner life of Elizabeth Gould, who was so much more than just the woman behind the man.
Elizabeth was a woman ahead of her time, juggling the demands of her artistic life with her roles as wife, lover and helpmate to a passionate and demanding genius, and as a devoted mother who gave birth to eight children. In a society obsessed with natural history and the discovery of new species, the birdman’s wife was at its glittering epicentre. Her artistry breathed life into hundreds of exotic finds, from her husband’s celebrated collections to Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos finches.
Fired by Darwin’s discoveries, in 1838 Elizabeth defied convention by joining John on a trailblazing expedition to the untamed wilderness of Van Diemen’s Land and New South Wales to collect and illustrate Australia’s ‘curious’ birdlife.
From a naïve and uncertain young girl to a bold adventurer determined to find her own voice and place in the world, The Birdman’s Wife paints an indelible portrait of an extraordinary woman overlooked by history, until now.

I knew nothing about the Goulds John or Elizabeth. So to learn about them and the whole culture of discovering and classifying species was fascinating. In the modern photographic era you forget or dismiss how hard it must have been to describe definitively a new species. The Goulds, and many of their contemporaries I assume, painted pictures (Elizabeth’s work) and provided stuffed specimens. I must admit there was a lot of killing and stuffing in this book.

Elizabeth was an intrepid (and hard-working) adventurer who embarked on an expedition to Australia leaving all but one of her children behind. She valued her work and arranged her household so that she could work – quite modern in her approach.

I am not a fan of first person narrated historical fiction there is something about the way it flows or doesn’t flow that I don’t like. There were moments in this novel where the research sat heavily on the story – I felt I was being lectured. However, I am glad I have read it and I now feel I know more about Elizabeth Gould and collecting and classifying animals.

Another review …

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/review-the-birdmans-wife-by-melissa-ashley-and-the-atomic-weight-of-love-by-elizabeth-j-church-20161103-gshg3x.html

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light, History

To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine – Christy English

To Be Queen

To Be Queen – Christy English

My historical book group read this novel. I have to say I was surprised when I saw the cover!

Here’s the blurb …

After her father’s sudden death, fifteen-year-old Eleanor is quickly crowned Duchess of Aquitaine and betrothed to King Louis VII. When her new husband cannot pronounce her given name, Alienor becomes Eleanor, Queen of France.

Although Louis is enamored of his bride, the newly crowned king is easily manipulated by the church and a God that Eleanor doesn’t believe in. Now, if she can find the strength to fight for what she wants, Eleanor may finally find the passion she has longed for, and the means to fulfill her legacy as Queen.

There is no doubt that this was a bodice ripper, but I found Eleanor fascinating and I want to read more of her and her time. Therefore, this novel is a good starting of point and I think the history was reasonably accurate. My plan is to move onto some of the novels written by Elizabeth Chadwick (like The Summer Queen), or finish Alison Weir’s biography. Ralph V Turner has a biography as well.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light, History

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light, Recommended

The Job – Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

The Job -

The Job – Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

I really like Ms Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels (although they are all the same), so when a friend lent me this one I was happy to give it a go.

Here’s the blurb …

Charming con man Nicolas Fox and dedicated FBI agent Kate O’Hare secretly take down world’s most-wanted and untouchable felons, next job Violante, the brutal leader of a global drug-smuggling empire. The FBI doesn’t know what he looks like, where he is, or how to find him, but Nick knows his tastes in gourmet chocolate.
From Nashville to Lisbon back alleys, from Istanbul rooftops to Thames, they chase clues to lookalike thefts. Pitted against a psychopathic bodyguard Reyna holding Kate hostage and a Portuguese enforcer getting advice from an ancestor’s pickled head, they again call driver Willie for ship, actor Boyd for one-eyed Captain Bridger, special effects carpenter Tom, her father Jake – retired Special Forces, and his talent – machete-wielding Somali pirate Billy Dee. This could be their biggest job – if they survive.

It was a light easy read full of drama and excitement, but it doesn’t have the same joy (or laugh out loud moments) as the Stephanie Plum novels. It would make a good movie though …

Another review…

http://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/review-job-janet-evanovich-and-lee-goldberg

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light