Cloudwish is the story of a girl whose parents came to Australia by boat, after the fall of Saigon. She has a scholarship to a fancy, private school in Melbourne, and tries to find her own space in two different worlds. There’s lots of typical, coming of age issues, but also plenty of diversity, a hint of magic, a sweetly complicated romance and Jane Eyre; a lot to like about this book.
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.
Evelyn seeks out Monique to tell her life story to, there is a connection which we discover only at the end of the story. Evelyn reveals her life story, what she did to make it in Hollywood and the one person she truly loved. The story is well written with realistic characters, making me wonder if it was actually based on a Hollywood star.
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.
As with Go Set a Watchman, I had qualms about reading this, as Truman had abandoned it, and didn’t want it published. Funny, given the connection between Truman and Harper Lee. Still, I read it, and while it really can’t compare with his later work, I did still enjoy it. It’s a New York story, of youth, wealth and intoxicating love; slim, in more ways than one, but I’m glad I read it.
Insomniac City is a love story, about a man who falls in love with New York City and Oliver Sacks. It must be more than twenty years since I read my first Oliver Sacks book, and I have read many since, feeling so drawn to this gentle, ever curious, genius of a man. And, while I am not especially keen on the US as a whole, New York is different, magical somehow. So, this memoir of Bill Hayes’ moving to New York and loving Oliver Sacks until his death, was totally captivating to me. A whimsical , quirky, deeply moving book about love, loss and life well lived.
A young woman moves in with a mesmerising fellow she has just met, and is troubled by the spectre of his former girlfriend. That’s the gist of this disturbing story, which weaves in and out of time periods and narrators, and is suspenseful and moody. The characters weren’t as compelling, or well drawn, as in her later books, but it was still an enjoyable read.
This was an uncomplicated read and I saw the passions of the author shine through. The story is a gentle romance, with likeable characters and is set up well to continue into book 2. I loved the descriptions of Darwin and they brought back great memories from my holiday there many years ago.
Tess Woods’s debut novel, Love at First Flight, stayed with me long after I finished reading it, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of her second novel, especially when I discovered that Beautiful Messy Love was the story of the children from the first book. Beautiful Messy Love is a stand alone novel, though.
I found Lily very relatable – in my early 20s, I also struggled with studying a difficult university degree and debated whether to finish it. My heart went out to Anna and I loved Tante Rosa – the grumpy Egyptian matriarch made me smile. My favourite character would be Toby’s brother, John – he cracked me up so many times with his inappropriate, self-absorbed comments.
I went from laughing at hilarious one-liners to sobbing, on multiple occasions – a roller coaster of emotions. Two intertwining love stories, overcoming issues of race, religion, fame and grief. This book is firmly at the top of my Best of 2017 list.
Set in Alice Springs, during the 80s, Love Like Water is about Cathy, a young white woman looking for a new life after a loss, and Jay, an Aboriginal DJ, trying to find a way to survive. It’s a typical, very Australian, coming of age story, with the added stresses of racial tension and the pressures Indigenous people face. The setting is harsh, but beautiful, and the physical and emotional landscapes are poetically and movingly described.