Stories of early Australia are a favourite of mine and this story I thoroughly enjoyed, so much that I read it over a weekend. Add strong female characters, good historical detail in dual story lines and you have a good story.
In the 1890s, newly widowed Cora Seaborne leaves London for a village in Essex. She is now free; free to explore nature, to spend time with friends, old and new, and to be caught up in superstition and legend about the Essex Serpent. Slow to get going, it’s a book about intellect, the blurring of friendship and romantic love, faith and reason. There is a very strong sense of place, and such vivid characters.
This story began as a typical Australian history story, but then the story line took off, ending with such an emotional tug. I raced to finish the story! Great descriptions of post war Sydney, highlighting issues of returning soldiers, divorce, attitudes towards women and religion.
The landscape of Tasmania is hostile and early colonial life there is also harsh. Bridget is a convict who walks out on a bad situation, becomes lost in the Tasmanian wilderness, and is found by a gang of bushrangers. It is incredible to read what she has to do to survive in the wilderness. There is not a lot of hope here, but that did not stop me from reading the story. The short, sometimes shuffled, chunks of the story helped create the feeling of harshness and grittiness.
It’s always a bit disappointing when you don’t enjoy the latest novel as much as earlier ones. The Sparsholt Affair begins in 1940s’ Oxford, then jumps forward in blocks of time, and changes perspective, until it gets to the current day. I was certainly sorry to leave Oxford behind, a favourite setting of mine, and I don’t think my interest was wholly recaptured. It reminded me a little of The Heart’s Invisible Furies, as it follows the lives of gay men across this period of history, but without the depth of understanding, and attachment, that comes from having one protagonist. It’s about complicated relationships, art, London, and secrets. I didn’t love it, but I did enjoy it.
This was a fun romp through early America and the Bone Wars (which actually happened!). We are thrown into the middle of two palaeontologists rushing to find dinosaur bones in America’s west. It did feel a bit rushed, but I guess that is because Michael is not around to fully develop the characters and storyline. I enjoyed reading about the harshness of life in the west, the adventure of it all and the thrill of discovery.
Set in Japan just after World War II when it was unde American occupation. I loved the characters and their stories, that while occupying the same space crossed paths only occasionally. It was a very human story and brought to life a small part of history.
I wish I had read this before The Count of Monte Cristo. The Three Musketeers is a wild adventure, with duels, daring escapes, abductions, affairs galore, political machinations, treason, betrayal, romance and friendship. Milady is a clever villain, brilliant evil, and the four ‘heroes’ were almost as bad – vain, callous, manipulative and adulterous. The book is fun, but having really loved The Count of Monte Cristo, I was disappointed.
Set in 1700s England, the story is told through the viewpoints of three people. The writer plunges you into the time period with great descriptions and the use of language – it is a world of culls, molls, swells and pugilists. It is sordid and brutal with touches of light. Most of the characters are not likeable but that does not mean they were not enjoyable to read about. It was also interesting to see the wide use of alcohol as a coping mechanism with all the characters – and it still plays its part in society today.
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This was a lovely romantic story set in two storylines; the present day and the Spanish Civil War. The dual storylines worked well together and contained a good mix of history, romance, travel and mystery. I think this story was so enjoyable because I had read Golden earrings by Belinda Alexander earlier in the year which covered the same topics and hence the subject matter and the Spanish terminiology were familiar, increasing my undestanding and enjoyment.