Considering the weather is warming up and the silly season is fast approaching, I’m very surprised by the amount of reviews this month – 22 reviews of 17 books by 16 authors. The author with two books reviewed is Anna Romer – 1 review for Thornwood House and four reviews for Beyond the Orchard both of which I will come to shortly.
Good People by Hannah Kent, highlighted last month, garnered three reviews this month, Julia Tulloh, Kate at booksaremyfavouriteandbest and Emily Paull. As I’m in a contrary mood and have begun to run around like a crazy person (in shock that Christmas is only a month away), I’m going to jump around chronologically too, starting selfishly with the book that I have just marked as to be read:
In Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall “Kate and Harriet are best friends, growing up together on an isolated Australian cape in the 1880s. As daughters of the lighthouse keepers, the two girls share everything, until a fisherman, McPhail, arrives in their small community.” Caroline at Goodreads observes,“This is a gently told story. It focused mostly on the details of daily life in a small community and the freedom the girls enjoyed as they were growing up but also the need for them to leave one day if they wanted to marry and have families.”
Jumping right back to the 17th century is Playing With Fire by Sharon Robards. “Set in 17th Century Germany, this historical fiction is based on the real life of Duchess Sophia of Hanover, heiress to the English throne, whose son George went on to become George I.” Carolyn at Goodreads concludes, “Sharon Robards does done a great job of bringing this period to life and re-imagining the courts of Sophia and Elanore. 3.5 stars.”
A very different subject matter is Black British by Hebe De Souza. “In the turbulent years that follow the British Empire’s collapse in India, rebellious and inquisitive Lucy de Souza is born into an affluent Indian family that once prospered under the Raj.” Carol at Reading, Writing and Riesling writes, “A thoughtful look at history, colonialism, migration and displacement with a feminist bent, this story is succinct yet powerful.”
Set during the 1940s is Worth Fighting For by Mary-Anne O’Connor. “From Darwin to Pearl Harbour, Sydney to Papua New Guinea, a compelling story of courage, honour and a great love set against the epic backdrop of the Second World War.” Brenda at Goodreads concludes, “Filled with courage in all forms, loyalty and determination, I thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction novel set to the horrors of the Second World War. Highly recommended.”
Back to WWI and we have The Chocolate Tin by the prolific writer Fiona McIntosh. “Alexandra Frobisher is a modern-thinking woman with hopes of a career in England’s famous chocolate-making town of York. She has received several proposals of marriage, although none of them promises that elusive extra – love.” Brenda at Goodreads writes, “The Chocolate Tin by Aussie author Fiona McIntosh is an emotional and haunting narrative which had me reaching for tissues a few times.”
As mentioned earlier Beyond the Orchard by Anna Romer received four reviews this month. “Lucy Briar has arrived home in turmoil after years overseas. She’s met her fiancé in London and has her life mapped out, but something is holding her back.” Lauren at The Australian Bookshelf writes, “Her novels are character driven, time often moves between the past and present, and there’s intrigue, mystery and suspense.” Carol at Reading, Writing and Riesling observes, “Romer agilely jumps between 1930’s to the 1990’s with ease – the two histories slowly collide.”
However, Tracey at Carpe Librum struggled with all the different time periods and character perspectives. “The strongest part of the novel by far was the story of Orah, and I would have preferred to read her story over that of Lucy unravelling her family history at Bitterwood any day.” Brenda at Goodreads found it “another atmospheric and emotional read by Aussie author Anna Romer.” For a review of her previous novel Thornwood House see Brenda’s review at Goodreads.
And now to make you even dizzier we will jump back to the concluding book in the Dark Rider Series by Anne Gracie, Bride by Mistake. I’m guessing that five books set around the same time, obviously by the same author and with the same writing style would be very soothing to read in the silly season. “Eight years ago, Lieutenant Luke Ripton made a hasty wartime marriage to protect a young girl from a forced union and then left her protected in a remote mountain convent. Now, Luke is Lord Ripton, but he has been unable to obtain an annulment,..” Eleni at Goodreads writes, “An amazing way to end the series. Finally Luke meets his match in Isabella. This fiery Spaniard is exactly what this Lord needs – passionate, caring and oh-so-headstrong.”
So, have you begun lining up your Christmas holiday reads yet? I hope this selection above gives you a few ideas.
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
Hi Debbie, Thanks for the roundup. I pulled Thornwood House off my “to be read” pile a couple of weeks ago, having seen all the reviews for Beyond the Orchard. I enjoyed the strong south Queensland setting as well as the time slip. It’s a great way of showing how the past influences the present and Romer does it well. (Not quite with the level of technical excellence as a Kate Morton story, but promising.) I look forward to reading her other novels. Most of the others are new to me.
Thanks Elizabeth, I still haven’t got around to reading Kate Morton. Interesting your comment about Anna’s writing and Kate’s. I am currently reading On The Blue Train, I’m really enjoying it but I’m surprised by Thornell’s particular “choice” regarding Agatha’s state of mind.
Kate Morton is a master storyteller. If you’ve never read her, start with The Shifting Fog or The Lake House. They are my two favourites from her although The Shifting Fog would definitely be her best in my opinion.
Thanks Theresa. Will definitely keep The Shifting Fog in mind. So many books….so little time.
Lining up Christmas holiday reads? Hmmm … no. I have such a backlog of review books, they PLUS whatever my reading group chooses as our January read will be my Christmas holiday reads. I guess that’s easy – no time wasted having to make choices!
I don’t really know any of these books, except of course the Hannah Kent, but what a great range of eras they cover.
I enjoyed your post Debbie – and your rationale for jumping around! Made sense to me.
Thanks Sue. And I’m still spinning around. November was a crazy month and now it’s nearly Christmas. And I keep starting to read new books before I have finished reading others. I stopped reading On the Blue Train by Thornell to read The Mystery of the Blue Train. Very restless at the moment. And too much choice! But then I would be frustrated with having to read so many have to reads!
I loved Beyond the Orchard. Many others you mentioned are on my pile, but I think I’ll bring Worth Fighting For to the top of the list. I know what you mean about restless reading though Debbie. I’ve been a bit like that myself of late. I blame it on too much choice! But there are worse things to suffer from!
Glad the roundup has been a help Theresa. And yes too much choice can be a problem. I’m trying now to settle down and complete each book I’ve started. I’ll need the holidays to get even half way!