Monday, 15 December 2008

Judith Lennox - Before the Storm

I borrowed this book on the recommendation of New Books Magazine. A high quality magazine dedicated for book groups and readers. It was very highly rated.
I must say I found it rather slow, and a bit light weight. It is not quite a family saga but at the same time not as weighty as usual historical fiction. The book tracks a family from 1909 until about 1942. It is a shame that we know the 'secret' from fairly early on and so spend the novel waiting for the bombshell to drop. It is peopled with a huge cast and it may be why the book appears light as we do not go behind the surface of many of the characters. I personally would not have thought there was a lot to interest a reading group but then I could be wrong.
I enjoyed the book and think it would make a great book to take on holiday or to bed when you have flu, engrossing but not too demanding...........

Monday, 8 December 2008

Barbara Ewing - Rosetta

I just loved this book. It was one of those novels that you find yourself putting down at intervals as you just don't want it to end. It is beautifully written, and is a sweeping powerful story set in the late 17th and early 18th century. The setting goes from England, to France, to India and to Egypt.
This novel really does address the issue of the status, or lack ot it, of women and children at this time. It looks at the hypocrisy of the so called society of the time, and the lengths that some women had to go to to obtain freedom. The backdrop of the Napoleonic era is well handled and interesting, and of course you cannot forget the Hieroglyphs.
A very satisfying book that you can get totally immersed in. It will also be an excellent choice for a reading group as there is much within it to discuss.

Gaynor Arnold - Girl in a Blue Dress

This book was nominated for the Booker Prize this year. I accept that is well written and well researched but beyond that I just did not get the point of the novel. It is a thinly disguised Biography of the wife of Charles Dickens, and so for me it was something and nothing. Why was it not a biography? Or if this was too limiting why was it not a factionalised account of their marriage. In this book I just kept asking myself, now was this true for Dickens or was it not? It was a great distraction. I would have preferred not to have been told that is was based on Dickens and then I could have read it as a fictional novel. Having said that it might be a good book for a reading group for just this reason. It also raises issues with women in society at that time, and the relationship the public has to fame and the famous.