Friday, November 28, 2014

Chamber Music by Doris Grumbach


This was sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of the publisher Open Road Integrated Media.


Caroline is ninety and looks back on her life, especially her married life with a world famous music composer. Very matter of fact and written starkly the emotional feel of Caroline's feelings come through very strongly without the gushing sentiment.

Robert is a clever man but with many eccentricities that the naive Caroline as a young woman cannot see and does not understand till very much later. She adopts an attitude of servitude to him, giving in to his needs, his orders and most importantly his way of life. Everything seems subject to this.

Caroline goes from a sheltered childhood to this life as a wife - a wife more in name than in anything else. Her passionate feelings only surface with the finding of a companion who comes in as a nurse when Robert is dying and this relationship is the only bright spark in her life. Caroline comes to life during this phase of her life story and the contrast of this short period as against her previous life seems so bright and vivid as against the dullness of all that goes before.

A bit slow at the beginning this is a story you have to persevere at, the rewards of reading this is right at the end.




Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Privileged Children by Frances Vernon


This was a recommendation from Fleur and was an extremely lucky find on Open Library.

A debut novel from a prolific author my first read of this writer as well. Diana Molloy is unconventional, bohemian and her daughter Alice knows no other world. She follows suit. With the death of her mother from tuberculosis Alice is surprisingly sent to live with a conventional couple - he a curate and his wife who are rather perplexed as to how to deal with a young girl who is so different from their world.

Alice escapes this restricted world and comes back to the world she knows and in which she is comfortable. She has learned from her mother how to manipulate people, particularly men and plays on this and her sexuality to her advantage. It is not financial only but even for just personal satisfaction.

The story is unconventional for the time, the dialogue is very straight forward and the characters are brisk and no nonsense. There is nothing wishy washy about this novel.

Looking forward to more finds from this writer. Thanks Fleur for the recommendation. 




Monday, November 24, 2014

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



Good books this week as well

          



These two from Netgalley



Could not find a better cover image for this delightful short story collection. Sixteen stories put together. From Open Library.

Deadly Adagio

From the author herself.

Two books from edelweiss above the tree line

Whisper Beach

and Orphan Number Eight for which believe me or not I cannot find an image for!


Voices Echo

This was a win from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours 


Quite a happy mailbox!

2a

Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Reading Voices Echo and Family Matters. Two widely different reads so I am never bored. One set in Jamaica and one in war torn England. Both so different styles of writing as well. 






Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney


This was my first read of Monica McInerney. Will not be my last. A book sent to me via Netgalley after I read a review of this one on a blog. I am so glad I got this one.

Set in the outback of rural Australia, all wide open spaces, paddocks and absolutely no people we have Angela English born and bred adapting beautifully to life in this corner of Australia, married to the love of her life and with four grown up children. Everything seems perfectly placid on the surface that is. Until everything blows up in everyone's face.

Angela has done a round robin letter each Christmas to all friends, relations, acquaintances and business colleagues. It outlines the usual happenings of the Gillespie family year around. This time around something happens to Angela.Without sugar coating she outlines the actual/factual happenings of the Gillespie clan. It ranges from the sordid to the wicked includes extra marital flings, supposed affairs with married men, whingeing adult children, strange son with an imaginary friend at 14 (should have outgrown that one!), the difficult aunt who always descends on them during Christmas. It goes on and on. Made for extremely interesting reading as long as it did not describe your family. We all have them but very few of us would be so honest as Angela in detailing them!!!! 

Due to an emergency, the email was left open on the computer and Angela's husband knowing how important this Christmas newsletter was for Angela sends it out on December 1st. When the trickle becomes a river of interest from everyone, Angela realises the cat is out of the bag. The family itself other than the Aunt is totally unaware of happenings and now it is Angela's turn to bell the cat and come clean.

Added to the convoluted happenings of the Gillespie family is added drama with accidents, mental fugue on the part of Angela, a scam in which Nick is duped all add to the "side" happenings in this family saga.

This was a humorous read. I liked the actual poking of fun at myself and mine very much in this book. Honest reading!

Thank you Penguin Group Berkeley for sending this through Netgalley. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Most Truly by Reina M. Williams

Most Truly (Love at Pemberley, #1)


Book One in the Love at Pemberley series, I won all three books from the author herself.

Colonel James Fitzwilliam has returned home after the war. He is lonely and knows that he should now settle down at home. His parents and Lady Catherine have ideas in this field and hope that a match will materialise between Anne and himself. He himself has no feelings other than that of a brother towards Anne. His own brother Alfred however has feelings for Anne but they do know that a battle would commence the moment they make their wishes known.

James did not envisage meeting Kitty Bennett, Lizzy's younger sister at Pemberley. She is making an extended stay at Pemberley as Lizzy is now pregnant with the couple's first child. Kitty is innocent, fresh and very appealing to James.

A very simple straight forward love story which was a pleasant interlude in between the heavier stories.  I also liked how the house Pemberley is so beautifully described alongside the gardens.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

About Face by Carole Howard

About Face

Ruth has worked in the Peace Corps in Africa alongside her friend Vivian years ago. Now married and with a son she is working in the corporate world, the very antithesis of what her ideals were twenty years before.

A chance encounter with Vivian and her husband Carlos bring it all back with Carlos constantly hinting at what she has left behind and the loss of ideals of helping out the lesser privileged. Added to that is Jeremy at work who has taken over her division with his own ideas and more importantly his main view of ousting her out from her position in the company.

Working in the cosmetics industry is a high powered job. It is also a job which focuses on youth and the young and the wanting to look young. In a moment of revelation Ruth comes out with an idea which is revolutionary. A make up look which will suit the middle aged. Not trying to look younger. Just looking their age gracefully and beautifully. It does not initially go down well and Jeremy is trying to use this to bring down Ruth and then get her out of his office. 

Further plans in the offing materialise with Vivian and Ruth brainstorming and another successful business is born. 

The story with a backdrop of West Africa and present day Manhattan is more a story of the friendship between women and the ties that bind. Both husbands are just secondary to the story!
It also looks at middle age with a tongue in the cheek humour which is very likable.

This was a free download from Amazon.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Other Girl by Pam Jenoff


WWII stories are always emotional. Always they seem to bring back memories not always of a good kind but the stories have to be told as they are so much a part of history. 

This is a very short story - a prequel to the novel The Winter Guest. 

Maria is recently married, finds out she is pregnant but is all alone. She does not fit in with her inlaws who seem to just tolerate her existence in their house. Her own home is just a few doors away but she is estranged from her father and now she feels that he is a traitor who betrays those in their village for personal gain. 

The problem of plain survival is uppermost in everyone's minds in this small village in rural Poland and finding a Jewish runaway is not an ideal situation for Maria who is herself bereft and alone. Befriending this girl and trying to help her in the face of her fathers betrayal shows the strength of Maria's character. 

I was very disappointed that the novel ended so abruptly as I do not know when I would get to The Winter Guest. This was a very good story as opening chapters.