City of Girls was my first historical fiction read by Elizabeth Gilbert. (I read Eat, Pray, Love a long time ago). I had seen City of Girls around and wasn’t sure what to expect. But I was interested enough to buy a second-hand copy from a book sale. City of Girls is set mostly in 1940s New York. It’s protagonist, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris, has just been kicked out of school and is banished by her parents to New York to stay with her Aunt Peg.
Aunt Peg runs a crumbling theatre which puts on cheap musical plays for its working class neighbourhood. It’s not up to Broadway standards, but the shows are entertaining with singing, dancing, a bit of a plot, and beautiful showgirls. Vivian is captivated by her new environment and easily swayed by the showgirl’s high life of drinking out every night and going home with no-good men. Continue reading →
Regular readers of my blog will know how much I love anything written by Jojo Moyes. So I was excited to get my hands on her latest release The Giver Of Stars. I pretty much devoured this historical fiction book set in 1930s Kentucky in a day. I just couldn’t put it down!
Set in Baileyville, Kentucky, during the Depression, it tells the story of a remarkable group of women who form part of the WPA’s horseback mobile librarian programme – bringing books and reading to people living in remote mountain areas.
Though the characters in this book are fictional, they are inspired by the real life women who took part in this scheme which ran from 1935 to 1943. Jojo weaves a fascinating tale of a small community where many welcome the spread of books and reading, while others oppose the idea of women promoting literacy. Continue reading →
Jojo Moyes is an automatic buy author for me. Foreign Fruit has been sitting on my bookshelf for quite some time, so I was happy to finally get around to reading it. Set in the 1950s and present day (early 2000s), Foreign Fruit takes place in the seaside town of Merham. It’s a place where people don’t like change — even when it’s greatly needed.
In the 1950s section of the book we meet two friends: Lottie Swift and Celia Holden. Lottie came to live with the respectable Holden family when London was evacuated during the war and then never went back to live with her mother. Continue reading →
I’m a bit late to the reading party for Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I’ve been wanting to read it for a while, only I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to all the hype. But as soon as I started this book I knew I was in for a treat. I devoured it over a couple of days and loved every minute of it. The writing was superb, I was 100% invested in the story, and it made me feel so many emotions. All in all it was a 5 star read for me. It’s one of those rare books that reads like a classic and you know it will endure with time. I loved it! Continue reading →
Last October I asked my husband for a whole stack of Daphne du Maurier books for my birthday. I’ve been reading my way through them slowly, discovering old favourites I haven’t read for years, as well as Daphne du Maurier books I previously knew nothing about. The House on the Strand is one of those books I knew little about before reading. I went in without expectations and was pleasantly surprised by this novel. It’s a time travel book, but written in such an original way. I found it fascinating. It has firmly cemented Daphne du Maurier in my eyes as an author who was the master of any genre. Continue reading →
I wanted to read The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See as soon as I heard about it. Set on the island of Jeju, off the coast of South Korea, it’s a historical fiction novel about two women Young-sook and Mi-ja. It follows their friendship through a time of turmoil encompassing Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 40s, World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath to 2008.
Young-sook and Mi-ja are both haenyeo, free divers who are part of a collective of female divers who harvest the seas off Jeju. While the men stay at home and take care of the children, the women go to sea and dive, catching octopus, abalone and sea urchins to sell. They dive without oxygen. In the old days, they wore light clothing and dove all year round in freezing waters – even when pregnant. Continue reading →
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes caught me by surprise. It has now become my favourite Jojo Moyes book apart from Me Before You. I’ve been reading a lot of Jojo Moyes’ backlist lately, ever since my husband gifted me a whole heap of her books. I wasn’t in a huge rush to read this one. Then I read her collection of short stories — Paris For One — and there was a short story about a young married couple living in Paris, just before the outbreak of World War One. I really enjoyed their story and was thrilled to discover it was continued in this book. Continue reading →
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time. As part of my quest to read more Daphne du Maurier books this year, I finally got around to reading it.
The story is written from the perspective of Philip Ashley, a young man on the cusp of turning twenty-five who has a lot to learn about the world and a lot of maturing to do. Philip was raised by his cousin, Ambrose, after the death of his parents, and grows up on a beautiful estate in Cornwall. But Ambrose suffers from ill-health so must spend the winter months over in Italy where it’s warm. Continue reading →