Swing Time is the story of two brown girls from London, who love to dance and have a complicated relationship. We follow them from childhood to adulthood, in London, New York and Africa. It is, as you would expect from Zadie Smith, beautifully written, and I never found it dull, but I was not entranced, either. The narrator, not named, is detached, without ambition, even shiftless, so I found the themes of parenthood, race, belonging, poverty, charity, fame, purpose, and meaning not, perhaps, as powerful as they might have been.
A mystery story with a whole lot of layers (social and personal). The storyline kept me intrigued and moved along well. A thoroughly modern story with great characters. Although not a big dramatic ending – it fitted in well with the story and I left the story satisfied (also a bit emotional).
Eleanor Oliphant is an island. She lives a quiet, regimented life, working in an office and drinking vodka all weekend. One day, she and a colleague perform an act of kindness and Eleanor’s life changes; she needs to remember what she drank to forget. This book is quirky, funny, thoughtful and gently romantic, and it is also pretty dark. It’s a bit like A Man Called Ove or The Rosie Project, but set in Glasgow, and with a very hard edge.
Three and a half stars for Orphan Train, the dual stories of the early history of an elderly woman, and the current struggles of a young one. One came to America from Ireland in the 1920s before being moved to the mid-west by train with other homeless children. The other moves from one foster home to another, trying to find a place and purpose for herself. It’s about resilience, friendship and belonging and is an uplifting read, if a little predictable and flat in areas for my taste.
I enjoyed this story and characters mainly based around the WWII campaign in Timor. I love it when a story makes me experience a range of emotions throughout the story. It is a story on the horror of war and its aftermath, mateship, complicated families, love and ultimately hope. The story jumps time periods several times per chapter, sometimes throwing me off the flow of the story, but this is only a minor complaint.
I thought I hadn’t read this before, but given that the first half of the book held no surprises, it seems I must have at least started reading it, years ago. Broadly, it’s about the terrible things that have happened in Afghanistan, and it is also about a boy who does something terrible, and, years later, gets a chance to try and make things right. It’s a moving story, though I found it a little predictable and overwrought.
I do love novels set during WWII, and this may be my first young adult WWII story. It begins as a written confession from Queenie, who has been captured in France, and she tells the story of how she and her best friend Maddie, a pilot, ended up there. There’s a lot about being a pilot, some of what it was to be a woman in the air force, and about the French resistance. Though torture is involved, there is little gory detail, and the book is gently amusing at times, and is a great story of friendship and loyalty.
A charming Australian story about female friendship. Sybil decides to start a book club which leads to 5 women developing the strong bonds of friendship, bonds that will stand up against the bad and the good times. The setting of this book is a remote cattle station in the Northern Territory, which adds extra dimensions to the story, as well as being set in the late 70s. It was quite nostalgic going over some of the major world events for that time period which Sophie has included in her story and how much communication has changed (who remembers the telephone party line?). I was worried that the story was going to end all neatly wrapped up with everyone blissfully happy, but it wasn’t. Sophie has left room at the end of the story for the reader to continue the characters’ stories themselves – a great tool to let the story remain with you after reading the story.
Read via Borrowbox – ebook
This is the type of book I would pick up and hand to random strangers in Kmart and insist they buy… Okay, it’s the actual book I did that with. The story has stayed with me long after I finished reading. It’s a fabulous example of contemporary Australian women’s fiction – full of friendships, romance, and personal growth. I laughed, I cried, I ran out of pages too quickly.
Four women from diverse backgrounds meet in an online weight loss forum and develop a deeper friendship. They share their struggles and each takes a different path on their journey. This book would be particularly relatable to anyone who has ever stood on the scales and seen a number they didn’t like.
Our Souls at Night is a gentle and quietly beautiful book. Addie and Louis are neighbours, who find comfort, adventure and love together, late in life. It’s about small town life, how people are more than the facts of their lives and about choosing happiness.