Girl runner by Carrie Snyder

Ali Girl runner“My name is Aganetha Smart and I am 104 years old. Do not imagine this is an advantage”

An aged Aganetha is confined to a wheelchair when two young siblings take her on a journey back to the family farm which stirs her memory. The reasons for this visit are revealed as Aggie’s story unfolds.

Aggie’s story is of a young girl raised in Ontario whose passion is running. She moves to the city at 16 and is brought into an athletic club through work which ultimately leads to her competing and winning gold in the 1928 Olympics – the first Olympics where women were allowed to compete in certain track and field events. Continue reading

The enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

Amy Enchanted AprilThis is a thoroughly enchanting, magical experience. Four ladies answer an advertisement to rent an Italian chateau for a month, in the hope of escaping their dreary lives in London. In the explosion of flowers and bright sunshine they are each transformed. Beautifully written, so that I could smell the flowers and thrill at the gardens overlooking the sea, it is also a warm, life-affirming book and surely the next best thing to a month in an Italian chateau.

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Fight like a girl by Clementine Ford

Amy Fight Like A GirlThere are some important things in this book, and so many of the issues she raises – body image, domestic violence, rape culture etc – need to be seriously addressed. This is a hard book to read. Hard because the truth of women’s situation in society is hard, but also because her vitriol and profanity are relentless. Fight Like a Girl is a long, rather repetitive, rant, with no element of grace, but there is humour and passion about women’s rights.

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Wishful drinking by Carrie Fisher

amy-wishful-drinkingI borrowed this from the library for my holiday reading, with no inkling of what would happen to Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds just weeks later. Wishful Drinking is one of Carrie’s memoirs, and is a funny, gossipy, self-deprecating, touching account of the ups and downs of her life. A wild ride, read in an hour or so. What a life she had; I’m glad she shared it.

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Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

amy-whered-you-go-bernadetteThis is a really delightful book. It’s about a woman who is struggling to come to terms with disappointments and find her way. She is a much loved mother to 15 year old Bee, and all sorts of complicated things to other people in her life until she disappears and Bee sets out to find her. It’s clever, funny, quirky (not self consciously so), has a great sense of place and is so life affirming, a thoroughly enjoyable ride.

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The inheritance by Katie Agnew

cynthia-the-inheritanceI really enjoyed this story. You are introduced to three main characters and begin to learn about them and their past. Katie Agnew uses different methods to introduce these character’s backstories which keeps the story interesting. Her detailed descriptions of the character’s lives made for a great read. It is only way towards the end of the story that Katie connects these characters – I could not work out how they would all meet! The ending of course wraps everything up, albeit very quickly, and is a fitting end to the story.

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The summer before the war by Helen Simonson

amy-the-summer-before-the-warA gentle, sweet and moving piece of historical fiction, The Summer Before the War is set in the East Sussex town of Rye. The countryside is beautiful after a peaceful summer when a young woman arrives to teach Latin, just before the world goes to war. It says much about being a woman in the early 1900s, as well as prevailing attitudes about race, class and sexuality, but it is neither moralistic nor pushing a modern agenda. It did drag a little in the first half, and was tied up very quickly in the end, but I did shed a tear for the characters I had come to care for.

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Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff

cynthia-secrets-of-nanreath-hallA story of war and family told by a mother and her daughter in seperate storylines.
Anna’s story of trying to find out about her mother while also dealing with her own horrible war experiences while nursing in WWII was a great one. She deals with these experiences along with friendship, the chance of love and the remaining family members.
Her mother’s story of finding love and dealing with family (and society’s) expectations of her during WWI was enjoyable but not as strong.
This was a solid historical story with both women showing what strength they possessed and their need for family, even when it is not what they first thought.

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The story of a new name by Elena Ferrante

story-of-a-new-nameI am well and truly captivated by this series now. Lena and Lila grow apart as their choices and opportunities take them on different paths, but the darkness of their Naples neighborhood has a power that is hard to break free from. This book is about oppression, money, violence, power, love, lust, learning and yearning to be free, but I could sum it up as bring simply about spirit, that spark that gives a person drive and passion, and life.

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