February is the back to work month for a lot of us and this shows in the reviews – only 15 – a drop of 5 from last month. The majority of the 11 books reviewed this month have been highlighted over the last six months which I find surprising (new year and all that) so I will concentrate for the most part on the books that haven’t, kicking off with an old favourite of mine from way back, Footsteps in an Empty Room by Lilly Sommers.
“At the turn of the last century, Alice is a 12 year old servant girl at Colonsay, the big house on the Victorian Coast belonging to wily political strategist Cosmo Cunningham and his beautiful young wife Ambrosine. In the present day, Rosamund becomes the reluctant inheritor of Colonsay, her childhood home.”
Christine at Sunflower observes: “The author is highly successful in structuring the story, fluently weaving all sorts of surprises and hints into an already thrilling plot, while subtly commenting on complex issues such as gender, racial and social inequality.”
Back a few centuries or more, we have Kings Rising By C.S. Pacet. It is the third book in the Captive Prince series and garnered three reviews this month, although I suspect it is more fantasy than historical. Lynxie at Coffee2words writes: “Pacat’s writing style is something of sheer beauty. It is simultaneously complex and yet utterly simplistic when it comes to understanding it. The layers of foreshadowing and deceit tangle together and create a cover of sorts over the fragile, yet fierce romance plot. I am in awe of it.”
Ellen at ellenvgregory.com writes: “…As it turns out, Kings Rising is not a perfect book. The opening few chapters are a bit shaky, bumpy, especially as the author throws in the first ever chapter from Laurent’s point of view — which at this stage I did NOT want.” Elizabeth at Earl Grey Editing observes “Although there’s a reasonably large cast, the focus is kept very tightly on Damen and Laurent. There might be kingdoms and countless lives at stake, but the core of the story is their relationship. With Damen’s identity now revealed, the pair must get to know each other for who they really are.”
“Wild Chicory by Kim Kelly is a novella that takes the reader on an immigrant journey from Ireland to Australia in the early 1900s, along threads of love, family, war and peace. It’s a slice of ordinary life rich in history, folklore and fairy tale, and a portrait of the precious relationship between a granddaughter, Brigid, and her grandmother, Nell.” Kylie Mason from Newtown Review of Books explains: “After four historical novels, Kim Kelly has turned to her family’s stories – and those of her husband’s family – to create her new novella, Wild Chicory…Wild Chicory is also the story of how Kelly became a writer, how growing up being told fables and fairy tales inspired her love of stories and her desire to share them with readers. Her passion for writing shines in this novella, and her skill with language makes for a glorious and engaging journey through the stories of Brigid’s family.” I for one have just added it to my TBR pile.
In Spirits of the Ghan by Judy Nunn “It is 2001 and as the world charges into the new Millennium, a century-old dream is about to be realised in the Red Centre of Australia: the completion of the mighty Ghan railway, a long-lived vision to create the ‘backbone of the continent’, a line that will finally link Adelaide with the Top End. But construction of the final leg between Alice Springs and Darwin will not be without its complications, for much of the desert it will cross is Aboriginal land.” Julie at Goodreads observes: “The story takes place in Australia between 1876-2001. Gently incorporating historical facts with fictitious scenarios, Judy Nunn introduces us to one extended family of Aboriginies and enlightens her readers with some of the cultural aspects of Australia’s Indigenous People.”
Last but definitely not least is the prizewinning novel by Joan London. I highlighted this book last September but thought it would be nice to have another look. “The Golden Age takes its name from an actual children’s convalescent home, which existed in Leederville, a suburb of Perth, from 1949-1959. In this home we meet a varied cast of characters including Frank Gold, a 13-year-old Jewish refugee from wartime Hungary, and his parents Ida and Meyer; Elsa, a 13-year-old patient, and her anxious guilt-ridden mother Margaret; and Sister Olive Penny, a nurse and war widow with a teenage daughter of her own.” Kim at the aptly named blog Reading Matters concludes that: “Admittedly, as much as I enjoyed this book — the beautiful, languid prose, not dissimilar to that of London’s compatriot Gail Jones, the well-drawn characters behaving in all-too human ways, and the melancholy atmosphere the story evokes — but I never fully engaged with the narrative.”
So peoples what are we reading in March? I’m looking forward to finding out soon.
My name is Debbie Robson and I am a bookcrosser, booklover and author. I love researching the 20th century and finding those small but relevant details that can make the past come alive. You can find me on twitter: lakelady2282