Monday, September 1, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday! What are you reading?




The Girl at the Lion d'Or


This came after reading a review on Cosy Books. I do so like this cover though I am reading a digitalized version on Open Library.

The Boston Girl: A Novel

This came from Edelweiss. I liked the only book I read which I won from this author Red Tent. There the setting was ancient Jerusalem. Here we are in contemporary Boston. 

            


These are from Netgalley.


2a


Reading the Sebastian Faulks one. Twenty five pages in and liking it very much.

On another note, does anyone have expectations of comments when writing a review? I sometimes find that the review where I expected comments did not get any and the ones which I felt were rather meh got the most response! Like to know what other bloggers think.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Wharf of Chartrons by Jean - Paul Malaval




I loved the cover before I read the blurb. The background was interesting. Bordeaux - wine country and wine making. 

Two cousins David and Gaspard share a deep love for the history and making of wine. They both want to break away from their over bearing and claustrophobic families and make a new start. They do this by investing in a wine yard and in making a new wine which despite all odds is a great hit. The period is just before WWI and then the setting moves into the background of this War and France during the war.

The two cousins are short of money and enter into an agreement with a wealthy engineer but it also causes them to give up on some of their ideals of what a good wine is and they have to forego quality for both quantity and profits. 

With the onset of the war, they also have to think of alternative markets - the lucrative world of America and beyond beckons. With a touch of romance both homespun in the marriage of one and in the lifelong love affair of one for someone who is married and out of reach the love story adds a softer touch to a story which is essentially a family drama with wine making as its main theme.

For anyone who enjoys anything French, this is a book which will appeal.  Apart from the wine and Bordeaux, the pragmatic view of the French in all things comes through in this book. Very educative reading!

Sent to me via Netgalley courtesy of Open Road Integrated Media.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Together and Apart by Margaret Kennedy





The 1920s is another period where what people would say was obviously of paramount importance. Betsy has decided to divorce her husband Alec - her reasons seem somewhat lopsided. She feels let down by her marriage and feels that happiness has somewhat eluded her. Her husband has never been passionately involved with her and despite knowing about his liaisons with various women, she now takes it upon herself to bring up the latest mistress as one of the reasons for her leaving him. On the sidelines is her cousin who has always been in love with her and who has offered marriage on innumerable occasions. He is also very rich, an Earl into the bargain and is an ideal alternative to her.

She discounts however the interference from family. On informing her parents (holidaying in Switzerland) about the impending divorce her mother hotfoots back home to try to prevent this. Her mother is not interested in Betsy's personal feelings on this subject but only on preventing her divorce. Her mother in law has more decided views on the subject - despite her support for her son, she does not want this divorce to go through. She does not want to be the subject of gossip by her circle of friends and so she descends on the family to see what she can do.

The break up of the marriage and its effect on three very susceptible children, maybe two of them badly affected by the divorce - the two elder children not knowing who is right or wrong, taking wrong decisions, forcing parents themselves to choose and in a custody battle where at sixteen they have to choose which parent they want to live with, completely cutting the other parent off. Barbaric, very difficult to handle situations for children. 

The need for provision of proof of the other woman in this case pushes the husband into being forced into a decision of a relationship with the young woman who looked after his children. He is not in love with her, she is madly in love with him and because of the lack of an alternative he almost is forced to begin an affair with her! His disinterest is obvious and how he is maneuvered into this relationship is farcical. 

The divorce ultimately does take place, each partner marries someone else but it is almost as if it was by accident than by design. 

I did not enjoy the divorce part but the setting of 1920s is a favourite period of mine. I liked the exchange of letters from friends who sought to do whatever they felt they could do to put the pieces of the couple's lives together. The interfering mother in law was an old cat, wily and only supportive of her son and seemed typical! Betsy's mother seemed a more floundering, helpless type. I did like the characterization!

The book was recommended on Cosy Books 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Collar by Frank O'Connor. Stories of Irish Priests.


I have a weakness for anything to do with the Church. Be it vicars, parsons, convents whatever so this was irresistible for me. Must be the convent education here!

Frank O'Connor takes a very common thing - the Catholic priests of Ireland and makes them into iconic figures. The humour, the wit, the fantasy, the implausible and the hypocrisy of the Church are all rolled into this collection of short stories which kept me entertained so much.

From the cover up of a curate's suicide - what will the people say and what about his dear Mother - who on earth is going to tell her that her son cannot be buried on consecrated ground. I thought these mind sets only existed in Asia where the matter of what would the people say and saving face were matters literally of life and death. To find it existing in Ireland was comforting.

The over riding hatred/dislike by the Irish for the English. I do hope that this is now a thing of the past. Everyone was involved and it did include the clergy whose faultless condescension towards anything and anyone English was marvelous. Difficult to fathom but good nevertheless to read about!

I enjoyed this book. Whether it meant to be enlightening or whether it meant to poke fun at the whimsy of the Irish clergy I do not know. I just know I enjoyed the read.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of  Open Road Integrated Media.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mailbox Monday/It's Monday! What are you reading?



The following books were received by me this week.

       

These are courtesy of Netgalley.

The Dress Shop of Dreams: A Novel

This came from Blogging for Books.


The Missing One

This one was from Edelweiss (from their download section).






Together and Apart by Margaret Kennedy was from Open Library and a recommendation by Cosy Books. I took the fanciest image I could find! 


2a

Reading several books at the same time. 

The Wharf of Chartrons - finding it a bit slow in the middle though the subject is very intriguing. All about wine growing with of course feuds and under cutting which I did not know applied to this industry!

Also started Family by Caroline Leavitt.

Despite being rather busy I have surprisingly been able to read quite a bit.  


Friday, August 22, 2014

The Lazarus Prophecy by F G Cottam

The Lazarus Prophecy

I am reading a book like this after a very long time. Combining elements of fantasy, religion, horror and mystery the various elements are woven together very well to keep you wanting to read this book in one go. It was not easy to keep and come back to.

Women are not safe on the streets of London. Never mind the three prostitutes which were his first victims, he has now moved on to very high profile women.   Jane Sullivan is put in charge of the investigation and very soon comparisons are being drawn to the horrific Jack the Ripper which haunted London a century or so ago.

To add to the mystery is the fact that messages left behind at the murders are in languages which are ancient and in one case one that is not even spoken today. It all points to someone who is apart from being very clever at avoiding capture is very well educated in ancient languages and with a wide knowledge of the Bible as all quotes are from the Bible. 

Bringing together priests from an order which lives in the remote Pyrenees and almost forgotton by the Vatican, along with a prophecy which so many in the Church did not even believe in the supernatural is woven into the story that one tends to believe that it is quite possible to happen.

An excellent read.







Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy



The story set in turbulent times in America during the Abolitionist era. People and even relatives strongly divided on the very emotional issue of slavery. Civil war, strife and destruction throughout the south. A period I knew very little about so was quite educative for me.

Set in parallel times in 1859 and 2014 the story of Sarah, independent, artistic and determined to do her bit even as a woman restricted by man made rules and Eden who has moved to this small village with her husband Jack in this historical house and who is desperate to have a child. How the two disparate lives mesh through a discovery found in the house and which unravels the mystery of the hows and whys of the freeing and escape of slaves, the routes they followed, who helped them on their way and the workings of the underground railway which assisted so many to become free.

The personal lives of Sarah in love with Freddy but who turns him down because she feels she can never give him a child and who remains single to the end and Eden who makes this longing for a child the beginning and end of her existence and puts her marriage at danger with this almost obsession that time is passing her by. These two stories are also very much part of this story and help to define the boundaries of love and family so much part of the story.

I am glad that the blurb says "Final cover to be reviewed" as it would be unforgivable to go ahead with this one!

Sent to me by Netgalley via Crown Publishing.