The Shanghai wife by Emma Harcourt

Cynthia Shanghai wifeJust as the story went in one direction something dramatic would happen to Annie and send me off in a different direction. This made the storyline a bit choppy, but I enjoyed the setting of Shanghai and the multilayers of life there. The ending is very open, perhaps another story is waiting to be told?

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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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We that are left by Lisa Bigelow

Cynthia We that are leftMae’s husband has been posted to serve on the HMAS Sydney leaving her to cope with their newborn child. This is not going to end well. Grace has just fallen head over heels in love, and her journalist boyfriend leaves to cover the war in Singapore – more tragedy to come. There is a lot of emotion in this story and it is handled beautifully. The women’s grief, hope and ambitions along with coping with everyday life are explored. War effects everyone and this story brings it to life.

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Caroline: little house revisited by Sarah Miller

cynthia-caroline.jpgThe Little House books were among my favourites as a child, so when I saw this title I just had to read it. Sarah was able to capture the Ingalls’ journey across the prairie, but I did loose some of the story with the over detailed accounts of events. I could picture Caroline as she would of presented to Laura in her books, but internally have different thoughts and feelings. It was a good representation of what a mother and wife goes through, what it takes to hold a family together, the need to suppress your own feelings or to be a bit selfish.

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Sunset song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Amy Sunset SongSunset Song was voted the best Scottish book, so I felt compelled to read it. It is set in a small, rural Scottish community, full of eccentric characters, and a landscape both harsh and beautiful. Beginning not long before WWI, it tells of an ancient place in a time of great change, and we follow young Chris Guthrie as she grows with her family, suffers loss, falls in love and changes with the world. There were so many Scottish words I had to guess the meaning of, but the strange beauty of the land, the pull it had on its people, the quirky, funny, sweet and dark characters, and Chris’ strength through her trials and joys were clear, heartwarming and moving.

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