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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The lost flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland

Cynthia Lost Flowers of Alice HartThis story was full of sadness and beauty. Australia’s landscape is told in beautiful detail which balances out the horor of abuse. Characters are either running from their story or embracing it. The language of native flowers are used to great effect, used in the introduction of each chapter, matching Alice’s story. It was easy to become involved in the story and Alice’s journey.

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Swing time by Zadie Smith

amy-swing-time.jpgSwing 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.

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Orlando by Virginia Woolf

amy-orlando.jpgOrlando is such a beautiful, lyrical, whimsical, funny, dreamlike, book; I wanted to read it out loud. It’s an historical fantasy story about an aristocratic young man, with a great passion for nature and living, who somehow lives outside of time, and one day wakes up as a woman. Yes, it is bizarre, but a joyful, amusing, and exotic journey.

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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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Without reservations by Alice Steinbach

Amy Without ReservationsI think I liked this book mostly because in it, the author does something I would very much like to do; she takes a year off work and regular life, to travel. The title makes it sound like she just floated on the wind, which isn’t true. She had plans for where she was going, but while she was there, she learned to relax and be open to adventure, friendship and love. It’s about a journey to rediscover self, but it isn’t preachy or new agey, neither is it about the destination. It is certainly a dreamy journey that I am glad to have shared.

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Orphan train by Christina Baker Cline

Amy Orphan trainThree 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.

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Searching for Grace Kelly by M.G. Callahan

Cynthia Searching for Grace KellyThe story opens with a young lady taking the stairs to the roof of a hotel. We then meet three very different women lodging at the Barbizon, a women-only hotel in New York. We get a glimpse into their lives as they try to fulfill their dreams. Which one is the lady waiting to jump?
The story flows well and the author has authentically created the setting and time period. The ending is however a bit predictable.

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