The sisters’ song by Louise Allan

cynthia-sisters-song.jpgA heartbreaking family story. One sister wants a family she can’t have and another has a family she doesn’t want. The story is set in mid 20th century Tasmania and gives a glimpse into life at that time and the life choices women made. An enjoyable, but at times sad, read.

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You me everything by Catherine Isaac

Amyyou-me-everything-9781471149153_hrThis is chick lit with an educational purpose. A single mother, Jess, and her ten year old son travel to France to spend time with his father. Jess and Adam split up ten years ago, but her mother, who is ill, is keen for her grandson to connect with his father. Her mother’s illness weighs heavily on Jess, and this trip is significant for a number of reasons. The French countryside is lovely, the characters attractive and the interactions pleasantly predictable. The education is related to a particular disease, but the moral is not unusual for this sort of book; live life to the full. I must have seen this highly recommended somewhere, to have put it on my list, and it certainly wasn’t horrid, but I need a bit more to be really moved by a book. For fans of Me Before You, which doesn’t mean that someone dies!

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Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Amy WarlightIn post-war London, two teenagers, Nathaniel and Rachel, are left in the care of an odd, possibly criminal man, and his assorted friends. It is a confusing time, and years later Nathaniel looks back and tries to make sense of it. It’s an evocative story about intelligence work during WWII, the perspective of young people, parenthood, and memory.

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The lake house by Kate Morton

Amy The Lake HouseYou know what you are going to get with a Kate Morton novel; a lush, English setting, and an historical mystery solved in the modern day. This time the setting is a beautiful house in Cornwall, with lush gardens, and there are two mysteries to be solved. The resolution is perhaps neater than it needs to be, but it was in keeping with the book – quirky characters, twists and turns, happy ending.

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Clade by James Bradley

Amy CladeThe cover of Clade is beautiful, and the novel did not disappoint. It begins now, and moves forwards in time, with each section looking at something terrible happening because of the environment. It is dystopian, in that there are major and far-reaching disasters that occur because of climate change, but it is also hopeful. Each section introduces new characters, and the reader has to work to make the connections, which I loved. It is frightening, gripping, global, personal and life-affirming.

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Howard’s End by E. M. Forster

Amy Howards EndI recently watched the excellent mini-series adaptation of Howards End, and returned to the book, which I first read many years ago. I didn’t really understand it then, having just come from the more straightforward romance of A Room with a View. This time around, I loved it. It is the story of two families; one independent and intellectual, and the other practical and conventional, and how they can connect. The setting is gorgeous; bustling London and flowering rural England, and the characters funny, frustrating, wild, insightful and affectionate, as they go on this journey towards really connecting.

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The great alone by Kristin Hannah

amy-the-great-alone.jpgThe Great Alone is about Alaska in the 1970s; beautiful, remote, harsh, and populated with a small and tightly knit community. Ernt Allbright, recently returned from Vietnam and deeply scarred by the experience, brings his wife and thirteen year old daughter, Leni, to start afresh. Their struggle to survive both breaks and makes them. The characters, including Alaska itself, are strong and compelling, and while I found the story a little overwrought towards the end, on the whole it was a moving story about love, damage, kindness and belonging.

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