Category Archives: Fiction – Light

The Ladies of Missalonghi – Colleen McCullough

The Ladies of Missalonghi - Colleen McCullough

The Ladies of Missalonghi – Colleen McCullough

I read this book years ago – probably when it was first published in 1987 – and then there was the plagiarism controversy and it vanished (was it out of print). Anyway, I found a copy at the Rottnest General Store and I decided it was a good beach read.

Here is the blurb …

 Sometimes fairy tales can come true–even for plain, shy spinsters like Missy Wright. Neither as pretty as cousin Alicia nor as domineering as mother Drusilla, she seems doomed to a quiet life of near poverty at Missalonghi, her family’s pitifully small homestead in Australia’s Blue Mountains. But it’s a brand new century–the twentieth–a time for new thoughts and bold new actions. And Missy Wright is about to set every self-righteous tongue in the town of Byron wagging. Because she has just set her sights on a mysterious, mistrusted, and unsuspecting stranger… who just might be Prince Charming in disguise.

This was a light, fun read without too much going on – the awful cousin and the terrible men of the family get what they deserve, Missy finds wealth and will live happily ever after. There is also a mystical/ghostly element to it. What’s not to like? It is definitely like The Blue Castle written by L.M Montgomery (of whom I am a huge fan) just moved from Canada to Australia (and a little bit rougher around the edges shall we say). The Blue Castle is available on Project Gutenberg Australia, which means it must be out of copy right (at least here) and that’s why The Ladies of Missalonghi has been re-released.

Read it as a curiosity, but if you haven’t read The Blue Castle, then I would read that first and not bother with this one.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend – Katarina Bivald

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend - Katr

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend – Katarina Bivald

This came highly recommended by a friend, so I downloaded it straight away.

Here’s the blurb …

Warning: once you let books into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

This is a book about books. All sorts of books, from Little Women and Harry Potter to Jodi Picoult and Jane Austen, from to Stieg Larsson to Joyce Carol Oates to Proust. It’s about the joy and pleasure of books, about learning from and escaping into them, and possibly even hiding behind them. It’s about whether or not books are better than real life.

It’s also a book about a Swedish girl called Sara, her elderly American penfriend Amy and what happens when you land a very different kind of bookshop in the middle of a town so broken it’s almost beyond repair.

Or is it?

The Readers of Broken Wheel has touches of 84 Charing Cross Road, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Chocolat, but adds an off-beat originality and intelligence all its own.

This is a really sweet book about books and reading – it reminded me a bit of The Collected Works of A J FikrySara, a bit of a lost soul, arrives in Broken Wheel to visit her pen-pal Amy. Unfortunately Amy has died, but the locals are expecting Sara and she ends up staying in Amy’s house. She slowly gets to know the locals and decides everyone’s lives would be better if they just read more (or even just read a book). She sets up a store selling Amy’s books. It is a failure at first, but when town pride is at stake (the local ‘big town’ are scoffing at Broken Wheel having a book store) the local people rally around to make it a success. There is romance, community and creating a sense of belonging.

One of the great things about this novel – apart from all of the book references – is the characters; Poor George, Grace (who comes from a line of rebellious women), Caroline (an extraordinary organiser who has an unexpected romance), Gertrude and May (they remind me of the two men from the Muppets who sat in the balcony and criticised everything) , Tom, Andy and the impossibly handsome Carl.

Another review …

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-readers-of-broken-wheel-recommend-by-katarina-bivald-book-review-finding-solace-far-from-home-10348117.html

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light, Recommended

Poldark – Winston Graham

Poldark - Winston Graham

Poldark – Winston Graham

Well I had to read this after watching this …

Poldark - the TV series

Poldark – the TV series

For those of you who don’t know (like me before I read it) this book covers about half the television series.

Here is the blurb …

In the first novel in Winston Graham’s hit series, a weary Ross Poldark returns to England from war, looking forward to a joyful homecoming with his beloved Elizabeth. But instead he discovers his father has died, his home is overrun by livestock and drunken servants, and Elizabeth—believing Ross to be dead—is now engaged to his cousin. Ross has no choice but to start his life anew.

Thus begins the Poldark series, a heartwarming, gripping saga set in the windswept landscape of Cornwall. With an unforgettable cast of characters that spans loves, lives, and generations, this extraordinary masterwork from Winston Graham is a story you will never forget.

I liked it, but having said that I haven’t read the next one in the series. It has a wonderful sense of place – the cornish coast, Ross’s house. I do find dialogue written as it would sound annoying and this had a bit of that – probably why I haven’t rushed to read any more. It has the feel of a sweeping family saga – reminded me of The Thorn Birds  – so if you enjoy great sense of place, a bit of history, a bit of melodrama and the trials and tribulations of one family, then this novel is for you.

More reviews

http://austenprose.com/2015/07/11/ross-poldark-a-novel-of-cornwall-by-winston-graham-a-review/

https://ellenandjim.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/graham-winstons-ross-poldark-the-revenant/

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

A friend lent me this – I have previously read What Alice Forgot (which I didn’t mind) so thought I would give this one a go.

Here is the blurb …

‘I guess it started with the mothers.’
‘It was all just a terrible misunderstanding.’
‘I’ll tell you exactly why it happened.’

Pirriwee Public’s annual school Trivia Night has ended in a shocking riot. One parent is dead. Was it murder, a tragic accident…or something else entirely?
Big Little Lies is a funny, heartbreaking, challenging story of ex-husbands and second wives, new friendships, old betrayals and schoolyard politics.
No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Liane Moriarty turns her unique gaze on the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves every day and what really goes on behind closed suburban doors.
Let me be clear. This is not a circus. This is a murder investigation.

I have children at primary school – the school in the novel reminded me so much of my school. The blonde bobs organising everything, the politics of party invitations, even the boozy trivia night (although we call it a quiz night and no one has been murdered yet).

This is an entertaining, funny story which tackles a couple of serious issues and is fun to read. I spent a lot of time identifying the various school mums with people from my school – definitely worth reading if you have children attending school. Who would want to be the mum who loses Harry the Hippo and replaces him with something ‘cheap and nasty’?

More reviews …

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/review-big-little-lies-by-liane-moriarty-20140723-zvmtf.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/25/books/in-big-little-lies-liane-moriarty-finds-new-complications.html?_r=0

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light

The List of My Desires – Grégoire Delacourt

The List of My Desires

The List of My Desires – Grégoire Delacourt

I bought this book simply for the buttons on the cover! I’ve been learning French, so should have attempted to read it in French, but I read a translation.

Here is the blurb …

Money can buy you freedom. But what about happiness?

When Jocelyne looks at herself in the mirror, she sees a middle-aged, married woman who runs a dressmaking shop in a small provincial French town and lives a very ordinary existence. But what happened to all those dreams she had when she was 17?

Then she wins millions on the lottery and has the chance to change her life for ever. So why does she find herself reluctant to accept the money? To help her decide what to do, she begins to compile a list of her heart’s desires, never suspecting for one moment that the decision might be taken out of her hands …

This is a light, easy and fun read (with the occasional serious moment). I don’t have a lot to say about it – I enjoyed it and it was a nice read after some hard slogs.

More reviews …

http://www.myfrenchlife.org/2014/02/13/french-bestseller-list-desires-delacourt/

http://www.cornflowerbooks.co.uk/2013/06/book-of-the-day-the-list-of-my-desires.html

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light

Starter for Ten – David Nicholls

Starter for Ten - David Nicholls

Starter for Ten – David Nicholls

This is my favourite David Nicholls novel so far.

Here’s the blurb …

The year is 1985. Brian Jackson, a working-class kid on full scholarship, has started his first term at university. He has a dark secret—a long-held, burning ambition to appear on the wildly popular British TV quiz show University Challenge—and now, finally, it seems the dream is about to become reality. He’s made the school team, and they’ve completed the qualifying rounds and are limbering up for their first televised match. (And, what’s more, he’s fallen head over heels for one of his teammates, the beautiful, brainy, and intimidatingly posh Alice Harbinson.) Life seems perfect and triumph inevitable—but as his world opens up, Brian learns that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

This was fun – it was light-hearted and entertaining (and there was no tragedy!). There is also a great adaptation. Definitely worth a read if you remember the 80s.

Another review …

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2003/oct/12/fiction.geraldinebedell

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light

The Book of Life – Deborah Harkness

The Book of Life - Deborah Harkness

The Book of Life – Deborah Harkness

This is the third (and I believe) final installation of this series. I have read the first two (see here and here). I would describe them as a more sophisticated twilight – there are witches, daemons and vampires, a council that wants to keep them all separate and a mysterious Book of Life, which is each ‘species’ claims as a holy book.

Here is the blurb …

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters fromA Discovery of Witches–with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

I found this one to be a bit long-winded. I would have preferred a shorter, but faster paced story. Having said that, I did read it in a matter of days – it is a compelling story.

More reviews …

http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2014/07/22/book-review-the-book-life-deborah-harkness/S5syEZWFasR5CDxpPzkuHI/story.html

http://www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/books/article1975975.html

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light

The Woman Who Stole My Life – Marian Keyes

The Woman Who Stole My Life - Marian Keyes

The Woman Who Stole My Life – Marian Keyes

I have been a Marian Keyes fan for a long time – ever since the laugh out loud funny moments in Watermelon. Sometimes I have been disappointed, but usually I find them a fun read with a bit of a serious side.

Here is the blurb for this one …

Stella Sweeney is back in Dublin. After living the dream in New York for a year – touring her self-help book, appearing on talk shows all over the USA and living it up in her 10-room duplex on the Upper West Side – she’s back to normality with a bang. And she’s got writer’s block.
Stella wants a clean break as she didn’t exactly leave New York on a high. Why is she back in Ireland so soon? Who is it who keeps calling? Stella wants to get back to being the woman she used to be. But can she? And should she?

 Stella contracts a dreadful disease and spends a lot of time in hospital. While in hospital she develops a connection with her neurologist – she communicates with him by blinking. Later, he turns her sayings into a self-published book, which finds its way into the hands of an infamous celebrity (she is photographed reading it) and so Stella becomes a publishing phenomenon. She gets a book deal, moves to New York (with the neurologist and her children) and goes on a book tour. She is living the life people dream about – I shall leave you to find out how she ends up back in Ireland along (apart from her grumpy son) and broke.

As you would expect from Ms Keyes, there are some hilarious moments. For example, Stella’s ex-husband’s plan to create his own celebrity or her son who is simply too well behaved (for a teenager).

This was a well-written romantic comedy. There are funny bits and serious bits, but more of the funny than the dark.

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light

The Rosie Effect – Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Effect - Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Effect – Graeme Simsion

I loved The Rosie Project – recommended to heaps of people and made my book club read it, so I was keen to read the next installment.

Here is the blurb …

THE ROSIE PROJECT WAS COMPLETE BUT I WAS UNPREPARED FOR THE ROSIE EFFECT.
GREETINGS. My name is Don Tillman. I am forty-one years old. I have been married to Rosie Jarman, world’s most perfect woman, for ten months and ten days.
Marriage added significant complexity to my life. When we relocated to New York City, Rosie brought three maximum-size suitcases. We abandoned the Standardised Meal System and agreed that sex should not be scheduled in advance.
Then Rosie told me we had ‘something to celebrate’, and I was faced with a challenge even greater than finding a partner.
I have attempted to follow traditional protocols and have sourced advice from all six of my friends, plus a therapist and the internet.
The result has been a web of deceit. I am now in danger of prosecution, deportation and professional disgrace.
And of losing Rosie forever.

This was great – very similar to The Rosie Project –  lots of laugh out loud funny moments (like when Don decides to research children by observing them at the park!).

I enjoyed reading this novel, but it is more of the same.

More reviews …

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/08/the-rosie-effect-graeme-simsion-review

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/graeme-simsion-looks-for-the-rosie-effect-again-20140919-10j82b.html

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light, Recommended

I Am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes

I Am Pilgrim - Terry Hayes

I Am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes

Apparently this was big last year – I am so keeping up with the times. A friend had this and thought that I would like it. It was certainly compelling and I now want to get vaccinated for small pox.

Here is the blurb …

Can you commit the perfect crime?

Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn’t exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation.But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder – and Pilgrim wrote the book.What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.

First, this is quite long and could have been edited to make a tighter story. Having said that, however, I was glued to the page. And despite knowing that everything would be all right (because don’t we always know that) I raced to the end to find out how ‘Pilgrim’ will catch ‘Saracen’. I must say I was a bit disappointed by the ending. I don’t want to ruin the story, but I think Saracen acted out of character.

As this novel is written from different points of view including the villain, you, at times, feel sympathy for him and can understand how he becomes what he is – although it is hard to justify testing your small pox strain on innocent aid workers. The characters are complex  (and there are a lot of them) and the coincidence count is high – but that just makes for an entertaining if somewhat far fetched story. The various different places are described well and Mr Hayes uses a lot of fore shadowing to keep the tension high.

Overall I think this is a great thriller with an interesting point to make about disenfranchised (intelligent) young men.

I think this would make a great movie (and I think one is on the cards).

More reviews …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/17/books/i-am-pilgrim-by-terry-hayes.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jackie-k-cooper/so-far-i-am-pilgrim-is-th_b_5518631.html

Leave a Comment

Filed under Fiction - Light