Book 30 from Julia Baker
Miss Bensons Beetle by Rachel Joyce
The title drew me to this book, I like beetles – earwigs always make me smile – and foreign travel has long been a lure.
It was, I thought, an extremely strange read about the adventures, seventy years ago, of two mismatched women and sundry people with whom their lives became entwined with for all sorts of unlikely reasons.
The oddly matched travelling companions were searching for a golden coloured insect thought to exist in New Caledonia, an island in the south Pacific Ocean, but never actually catalogued in the approved fashion. Personally I’d have enjoyed more detail about New Caledonia, this wasn’t available and I felt that the story could have been based anywhere. Possibly if the author had visited New Caledonia the story would have had a more authentic ring about it. The two women were both trying to escape past lives but this could have achieved more realistically if the author had been to the country or chosen somewhere she was familiar with.
While some parts of the book were very interesting e.g. accurate Latin names for insects and the different passport photo regulations 70 years ago as compared to now, many things appeared bizarre to me. Some of the chapters were like disjointed nightmares with very tenuous links like badly-matched beads threaded onto a string and with characters about whom too little was revealed to the reader. I felt that the characters could have added a lot more to the story if they had been better developed.
The author’s descriptions of the evacuation of various bodily fluids was unnecessary and added little to the context.
There are poignant parts in the book. I can remember sad spinster teachers at my school who must have lost lovers in the world wars and whose lives, it seemed, had never got back on track; the main character in this book was like them.
I felt when reading that the whole thing was probably going to be revealed as a series of very confused bad dreams but that didn’t happen and there were far too many loose ends at the end which left me not wanting more but just dissatisfied at reaching the end with so many questions left unanswered.
I have a very vivid imagination which conjures up all sorts of things but this book was beyond even my grasp of possible realities. If anyone else reads it I’d love to know what you think. Reading the comments inside the book covers it seems I’m out of step with popular opinion but this is often the case.
Book 28 & 29 from Jose Royle (Hillmorton Paddox WI and Leisure Activities Sub Committee members)
In the orchard the swallows by Peter Hobbs
A lovely book, beautifully written, although not long in length it leaves a lasting impression on the reader. It tells the story of Pakistani boy who due to culture differences finds his life turned upside down with serious consequences when he falls in love with Sida who belongs to another caste.
Excellent book, thoroughly enjoyed by members of our WI book club.
One moment by Linda Green
Linda Green is the bestselling author of ten novels. This emotional and heart rending novel tells the story of ten year old Finn a sensitive boy who is experiencing problems both at school and home and his encounter and relationship with outspoken, feisty Kaz who becomes his friend and support.
Beautifully written and a delight to read ‘One Moment’ was a Radio 2 Book Club pick.
Book 27 from Yvette Hunt (Trustee, Adviser & Brailes WI)
Olive, Mabel & Me by Andrew Cotter
I began watching the fantastic videos on line of Andrews dogs which as a sports commentator he made so funny. Both Labradors are adorable and really cheered me up in the strange times of 2020. Andrew tells of the raise to fame for Olive and Mabel and how they have all dealt with they new sound status . This is a real laugh out loud book and as he says we could all do with being just a little bit more Labrador … Definitely a 5 star read.
Book 26 from Yvette Hunt (Trustee, Adviser & Brailes WI)
Victoria Hislop – One August Night
If like me you just adore Victoria Hislop then you won’t be disappointed with this sequel to The Island. We find ourselves reunited with familiar characters Anna, Andreas, Maria and Manolis and Spinalonga leper colony.. Its dramatic story line interwoven with descriptions of Greek island culture and scenery make you long to be able to visit Greece again .
An easy fast paced enchanting book
Book 25 from Yvette Hunt (Trustee, Adviser & Brailes WI)
Ruby Wax – And now for the good news….to the future with love.
2020 wasn’t a year of great news and hope at times but read this book and you will be caught up in the positivity and that even in such dark times sunlight is to be found.
Mental health has long affected Ruby and I find although I’m not always on her wave length as a comedienne her ability to resonate and and inspire is awesome.
Coping in her own life led Ruby to gain a Master’s degree in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy from Oxford University. In 2015 she was awarded the OBE for services to mental health. Definitely give this book a go and see what you think.
Book 24 from Chris Weare (Earlsdon WI)
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
This year’s call for us to vote on the WI resolutions, together with being involved in a nasty collision made me think about last year’s resolutions, when I voted on the call for female crash test dummies. This book brings gender data like this to the fore, where crash test dummies are modelled on male builds and leave women much more vulnerable in the event of a crash. Although billed as a book about data bias, it’s more of a catalogue of the facts and figures that document persistent gender inequalities in society. It is one of those must-reads for everybody. Invisible Women is informative, it is not a heavy read and gives lots of examples where wide data gaps wreak havoc. It gives examples where gender-sensitive design caused radical improvements, and statistical proof that this work is necessary and effective. Overall, a thoroughly fascinating and eye-opening read.
This year, the resolutions include ‘Stop women dying prematurely from coronary heart disease’. This one takes me straight back to this book which details that a woman is over 50% more likely to receive a wrong diagnosis (i.e. not a heart attack) and therefore 70% more likely to die within 30 days. A cheery subject this is not, but in an era where this is preventable, a real tragedy. More information can be obtained from:
British Heart Foundation: https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/medical/women-and-heart-disease
British Heart Foundation, What is a heart attack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bw_Vv2WRG-A
British Heart Foundation, What is a cardiac arrest?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lMiXJH_bw4
Book 23 from Jenni Venn (Long Itchington WI)
“English Pastoral – An Inheritance” by James Rebanks
James Rebanks, known to his Twitter followers around the world as @herdyshepherd, introduced readers to his Lakeland farm in his best-selling book “The Shepherd’s Life”. His latest book “English Pastoral” tells the story of the massive changes to agriculture experienced by three generations of his own family and their farm and the wider world.
Rebanks uses his own family’s experience and that of his neighbours to explain how changes to modern agricultural practice and the drive for cheaper food have had shocking consequences both for nature and for farmers themselves. He then sets out, passionately and pragmatically, how these issues could be addressed as well as describing the changes he is making on his own farm. Rebanks makes it very clear that farmers themselves are an essential part of the solution and must be included with government, conservationists and consumers in finding a new way forward.
Passionate and poetic, this is a beautiful and important book that takes you right into the heart of the Lake District and its landscape, the Rebanks family, and the real life of northern fell farmers. As well as mourning the things we have lost, it gives us hope that together we can build a new “pastoral” land that would be better for nature, farmers, and for us all.
Book 22 from Julia Baker Vice Chair (Kingswood & Lapworth WI)
If Only They Didn’t Speak English by Jon Sopel (BBC North America Editor)
“Land of the free home of the brave!”
Well, it seems that quotation is a very distorted and cynical description of a country mired in institutional and historical racism, belief in conspiracy theories and run, not by their elected politicians, but the National Rifle Association the lobbying power of which is terrifyingly astonishing.
The book is objective and not, apparently, built on any preconceived prejudices of the author but on his well researched observations as a resident in America as the BBC’s North America Editor. Jon Sopel writes with a lively, slightly ironic sense of humour which is frequently transmitted through his writing style. The reader learns the reasons that many Americans don’t travel and of their attitude to taxes which, if it was different, might get the roads and bridges mended on a more systematic basis.
The author’s historical references help to show how the much admired American Constitution and its amendments, originally drawn up to avoid the strictures of the England that the original settlers left, are now preventing America from making progress with abolishing guns and hampering the country in other ways by subtly enforcing expectations which for many will be impossible to achieve in modern times.
Sopel describes the culture of conspiracy theory which is rife and one wonders how so many can be so utterly gullible on what could be a dangerous scale. It turns out that the media, which are far from unbiased, have a major influence on that.
I was drawn on through this book becoming increasingly incredulous about North America and many of its citizens.
The temptation in this review is to include many quotations which made me laugh out loud and/or made my mouth literally drop open – but I suggest you just read the whole book, it’s totally fascinating.
Book 21 from Jenni Venn Long Itchington WI
“A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens
I always include a book with the Christmas gifts I send to my two daughters who live abroad. This year I’m sending them each a pretty paperback version of “A Christmas Carol” which prompted me to read it again myself.
Dickens’s story of the lonely miser and his wonderful redemption through the spirits of Christmas just sweeps you along. His vivid descriptive writing pulls you right into Victorian London with the familiar and the less familiar characters coming alive as you read about them. Unlike Dickens’s very long novels that were serialised for weeks through magazine publications, “A Christmas Carol” is a short story (less than 90 pages in my copy) and is packed full of the joy of Christmas.
Most of us have seen at least one film or TV version – my personal favourite is “The Muppets’ Christmas Carol” with Michael Caine. But if you’ve never read the actual book or like me haven’t read it for years, why not give it a go this year and find out why Charles Dickens is sometimes said to have actually invented the modern Christmas!
Book 20 from Anne Bufton-McCoy
Cattern Cakes and Lace – a calendar of feasts
By Julia Jones and Barbara Deer
Cattern Cakes and Lace is a beautifully illustrated celebration of British heritage – a scrapbook of festivals throughout the year interspersed with the customs, recipes and handicrafts associated with them. It features the various high days and holy days which have been celebrated for centuries both religious and secular. It’s a jolly good read – you will be forever saying “well I never knew that!”
My sister found this in a charity shop and lent it me to read – totally fascinating I got a copy on Amazon for a couple of pounds… best money I have spent in a long time.
Book 18 & 19 from Anita Dudley
The Holy Thief – William Ryan
Set in Russia in 1936 as Stalin’s great terror is beginning, a Captain Alexei Dmitriyevich Korolev of Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Militia is assigned to a brutal murder. He soon discovers that the body is that of an American citizen. With the discovery of this information, the NKVD the most feared organisation in Russia soon becomes involved. Korolev’s every move is now scrutinised and if he makes one false turn he could be sent to live in exile as an enemy of the State. Korolev is committed to discovering the truth behind the murder which leads him to the realm of the Thieves, who run Moscow’s underworld. With more questions than answers, who can Korolev trust?
A real good page turner and also a brief look into the social history of Russia during Stalin’s reign before the second world war.
Mary Queen of Scots – John Guy
Who was the real Mary Queen of Scots? This is a factual book set in chronological order of Mary’s life. It tells a well balanced version of historical events that eventually lead to Mary’s reign as Queen and ultimately her death. You are able to get a better understanding of the delicate balance of power that men gave and also took away, the internal fueds of the Scottish clans and how as woman, Mary at times, could drive a hard bargain. Although it is a factual book, it reads as a story and is excellent in its telling. Well worth the read.
Book 17 from Sue Myhill
A Different Aspect – Wind in the Willows
Just prior to the last lockdown my WI Bookclub made a list of books to read over the following few weeks and one of them was Wind in the Willows.
What a delight – may I suggest that those of you who have not read it to indulge yourselves, but more so, those who read it many moons ago to re -read this beautifully written story.
Not only will it bring back many happy memories but you may also appreciate aspects of this book you never realised were there before.
Happy reading and wallow in nostalgia!!!
Book 16 from Julia Baker
The Land Where Lemons Grow By Helena Attlee.
You can almost smell the lemons as you are drawn through the pages of this unusual, fascinating book which I first heard being read on Radio 4 and had to buy to enjoy at my own pace over and over again. It’s a book for both a straight through read or dipping in and out.
Basically the history of the introduction and cultivation of citrus fruits to Italy, this book will be of interest to garden lovers, horticulturalists, cooks, historians and Italophiles to suggest just a few!
Helena describes in superb detail how her interest in Italian gardens and citrus fruits in particular, developed. She takes us through the history of the different fruits in Italy via the cooler climates of the north to the scorching southern citrus orchards of Calabria which are the source of the prized bergamot which many of us recognise because of its blossoms which give the distinctive perfume to Earl Grey tea. We discover that the bergamot based Eau de Cologne 4711, which many will be familiar with, is not in fact the original perfume developed in Cologne by an Italian immigrant, but a copy by a scurrilous distant family member. Happily the original product is still available in Cologne.
The reader is told of the eastern origin of these promiscuously cross-pollinating trees from which three original varieties provide the many types which are constantly or occasionally available in our shops today.
We learn how different gardening techniques are required to protect the fruits in the varied climatic conditions of Italy and of the efforts made by families to protect their fruits from neighbours and competitors with dishonest intent towards them.
The value of these beautifully coloured fruits to humanity is indicated by their inclusion in art work, sculpture and some intriguing recipes some of which I’d like to try and some which I certainly won’t be attempting but are interesting to read about.
This book has some technical detail but is written in such an accessible and enthusiastic manner it is a pleasure to read.
Julia Baker – Federation Vice Chairwoman.
Kingswood and Lapworth WI
Book 15 from Anne Bufton-McCoy
This is my favourite Inspirational real life story.
Shann Jones didn’t expect to : Fall in love with a Welsh farmer and harp maker at the age of 41. To leave her job as a radio talk show host in San Francisco
To end up running a small farm in Wales. And she certainly didn’t expect to find herself in a desperate battle to save her husband’s life from a deadly infection, armed only with natural remedies and the probiotic drink they make on the farm.
Worth a read…. Anne BM
Book 14 from Anita Dudley, Membership and Promotions Sub Committee, Treacle Tarts WI
A Spring Affair by Milly Johnson
Set in modern day Barnsley, Lou Winter decides to declutter her house after reading an article in a magazine. As she sorts through the rubbish, she starts to declutter her personal life much to the annoyance of her husband. Through this process she learns to let go and let more light into those closed up painful places within her heart. Lou is on a mission, where will it lead?
This is a wonderful tale of a modern woman trapped in a loveless marriage. A really page turner. It will have you shouting one minute, laughing and crying the next minute. A real feel-good read.
Book 13 from Christine Dyer, Trustee and member of Studley Daytime WI
Whilst taking our hourly daily exercise, walking around the village of Studley, many people were leaving out boxes of books for free. On one of the days, I spotted a book called “In the Woods” by Tana French. I had not heard of this author, but it was a good thick book, that looked really interesting.
It starts off referring to an incident in 1984, when three children go into a wood, with only one returning home.
An unsolved mystery.
Twenty years later, Detective Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox come to the woods to investigate the murder of another child. What no one knows is that Rob Ryan is not his real name. Whilst investigating the mystery of this child’s death, he starts to unravel the mystery that is hidden in the shadows of his mind.
I found this book absolutely fascinating, I never knew what was going to happen next, there were so many twists and turns, it had me glued to every page.
Several weeks later, someone advertised a box of free books on a local Facebook page. I spotted “The Likeness” by Tana French, so asked the owner to put it one side for me.
Detective Cassie Maddox has transferred from the Murder Squad to Domestic Violence after a traumatic experience, having started a relationship with a former colleague from the Murder Squad. One day he calls her to the scene of a murdered girl, who just happens to be the double of Cassie, and she is carrying ID for Lexie Madison, which was the identity Cassie had used when she previously went undercover!!
There are no leads, no suspects and no clues, so Cassie’s old boss sees an opportunity to send Cassie undercover in her place.
This book was even more gripping than “In the Woods”. It was amazing how “Lexie” covered herself through various tricky situations, never giving the game away. I kept expecting her to stumble and be discovered, but this was not the case.
Both books well worth reading.
Book 12 from Gillian Crisp, Norton Lindsey WI “Earthly Joys” and “Virgin Earth” by Philippa Gregory
These two books by the well known writer of historical fiction, Philippa Gregory, follow the lives of John Tradescant the Elder and his son, also named John, who were gardening pioneers and plant collectors in seventeenth century England.
“Earthly Joys” opens with John Tradescant as gardener to Sir Robert Cecil and follows his career as he attends to the magnificent gardens, which he creates for the most powerful men in the kingdom at this time of intrigue and upheaval.
“Virgin Earth” centres on the life of John Tradescant the Younger as he struggles to maintain the king’s gardens while he confronts the dilemma of where his sympathies lie when England descends into Civil War.
It is fascinating to read of historical events, with which we are all familiar, from the perspective of people who were actually living through these turbulent times. Philippa Gregory’s fictionalised account of their experiences set against the background of powerful politics and constantly shifting allegiances makes for two excellent reading adventures. Only once or twice did I wonder if the author had taken poetic licence a little far!
I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the expeditions to America and Europe to bring back rare and exotic plant species. Gregory captures so well the Tradescants’ wonder and excitement at their new discoveries, which were so rare and precious then, and which have become much loved plants and trees in our gardens today. What a legacy!
Book 11 from Helen Pendery – Brailes WI
Rosamunde’s first book starts in the Cotswolds with Penelope Keeling. We are introduced to her children with their very varied personalities and lives, her childhood memories, parents and many friends. I had forgotten Rosamunde’s amazing talent for gradually pulling us into the lives of her characters. In less than a week I have travelled along 650 pages, around the countryside and London during WW11, met and grown to love Penelope’s famous father and artist Lawrence Stern, and her vibrant young mother Sophie.
Those of you who love Cornwall will feel the sun on your faces, wind through your hair, the joy of the coast and walks up the cobbles streets of lovely fishing villages and small towns. OK, so we can’t go on holiday now, but I have escaped our life indoors and travelled for many hours on a wonderous journey. I do hope that you will follow me as I am sure you have the book hidden away, just waiting to be reread with a glass of wine in your hand.
Book 10 from Anne Bufton-McCoy – Federation Chair & Newton Regis WI
Open Secret by Stella Rimington
I have finally got round to reading Open Secret by the admirable Dame Stella Rimington- I bought it when she spoke to us ages ago at a WFWI Lunch. Why on earth haven’t I read it before?
Easy to read, fascinating autobiography of a truly inspiring woman.
It charts Dame Stella’s rise to the top of the Security Services as she juggled being a single mother with the need for absolute secrecy in what was definitely a man’s world. How she transformed MI5 from a stuffy clandestine anachronism into a modern public facing service is nothing short of brilliant!
Book 9 from Christine Dyer (Trustee)
Call the Midwife, Shadows of the Workhouse, & Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth
I very rarely read books more than once, but I have read this trilogy several times.
Many of us are familiar with the television series, but I bought these before the series was made.
They are true stories of life in the East End of London in the 1950s, where Jennifer was a nurse and midwife.
It is hard to imagine that, as late as the 1950s, life was so hard for people living in such poor, bug-infested slums, often with no running water, and babies were born into these conditions, many of them not surviving. They had very little, but the sense of community and the amazing resilience of the women, who often had more than 10 children, was incredible.
The second book deals mainly with Peggy and Frank who were separated in the workhouse when their parents died.
His strength and determination enabled him eventually to make a home for his sister.
The third book deals with TB, backstreet abortions, and the amazing story of identical twins who shared the same husband. By the end of the book it is the 1960s and the docklands of London began to change beyond all recognition.
The television series, although somewhat sanitised, brought these stories to life so well. So many of us living outside London have no idea of how deprived the area was and I know that I am thankful that I was born and brought up in the Warwickshire countryside.
Book 8 from Yvette Hunt (Trustee)
An Improbable Life by Trevor MacDonald
This book I downloaded as an audible book because Trevor reads it himself and I have always found his voice very comforting whatever the subject spoken about.
I strongly recommend listening or reading this book. It’s so hard to know where to begin as Trevor has had such an astonishing life with interviews with icons like Nelson Mandela to tyrants such as Saddam Hussein. This book is engaging , moving yet unexpectedly intimate. At over 80 his life spans many decades even deeply personal Windrush scandal. Born in Trinidad in 1939 he came to Britain in 1969 beginning his incredible career on the world service moving to ITN in 1973. Trevor has been a journalist, ITN Diplomatic Correspondent, Diplomatic Editor of Channel 4 News winning his BAFTA in 1985 for his coverage of the Philippine Elections and has made
Political documentaries, interviews of the rich and famous / political leaders to more recently Trevor’s Indian Train Adventure. In 1992 he was awarded an OBE and in 1999 a knighthood.
I give this book 5 stars.
Book 7 from Fiona Riley (Trustee)
Village School by Miss Read
This is the first novel by written by Miss Read, real name Dora Saint, in 1955, she is one of my favourite novelists.
Dora Saint was a school teacher and wrote about the world she knew so well. There are actually two main series of books, one about Fairacre, a fictional village, where Village School was set and another about Thrush Green, a village loosely based on Woodgreen, at the north end of Witney in Oxfordshire.
I like all her work and attended a brilliant course at Denman in 2017, on Miss Read: Her Life and Work, where the tutor was Jill Saint, her daughter.
The course included trips to ‘Thrush Green’ and lots of information from Jill Saint about her mother. The icing on the cake for me, was making friends with two super ladies from WI’s in different parts of the country. We all got on so well, the three of us have met up at Denman for another course each year and had a day out in London, visiting the Summer Exhibition too.
Village School is a gentle tale of daily life in Fairacre, seen through the eyes of the village schoolmistress, Miss Read. She observes the ordinary life of the village with humour and an eye for the little details that add so much to the book.
During the course of a year, we hear about the events that take place in every village, the jumble sale, harvest festival, the run up to Christmas, a heavy snowfall, the fete, sports day and an outing to the seaside.
We also meet many of the characters who appear throughout the series, including the redoubtable Mrs Pringle , the down to earth Mr Willet, the loveable Joseph Coggs and the gentle Miss Clare.
The books are a lovely escape into a gentler world, so a really good read at the moment.
Book 6 from Margaret Pilkington (Adviser Trustee)
Small Island by Andrea Levy
My suggestion for book club is Small Island by Andrea Levy, winner of the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction, – photo attached, hopefully! Following from the book.
It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war.
Queenie Bligh’s neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but with her husband, Bernard, not back from the war, what else can she do?
Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler. Returning to England as a civilian he finds himself treated very differently. Gilbert’s wife Hortense, too, had longed to leave Jamaica and start a better life in England. But when she joins him she is shocked to find London shabby, decrepit, and far from the city of her dreams. Even Gilbert is not the man she thought he was. ‘
It is several years since I read the book, think I’ll now read it again.
Book 5 from Julia Baker (Vice Chair)
Becoming by Michelle Obama
A book to inspire women! Recently I read Michelle Obama’s autobiography ‘Becoming’. It gives a fascinating account of Michelle’s life from a tiny child to the poised, intelligent woman she has become. She describes in a clear eyed and unsentimental way the numerous hurdles she has overcome to get from her stable, fairly ordinary but black childhood with all the issues that held, to the Whitehouse. The thing that particularly struck me was the sacrifice she made regarding her own life and career as a high flying lawyer to support Barack’s all consuming political dreams. Michelle was also bringing up two young daughters and trying to preserve normality for them.
I loved the way that within the structure and constraints of life as First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS as it it styled) she managed to create a dynamic supportive but valid role for herself which complimented but didn’t try to subsume what POTUS (President of the United States) was doing. Her main objective was to inspire youngsters and encourage them to believe they can achieve to the highest level.
Being a retired teacher I really appreciated Michelle’s emphasis on the importance of education!
A most Inspiring Woman!
Book 4 from Gillian Crisp (Adviser Trustee)
– A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
How to escape the confines of lockdown? Read an enthralling book, which explores how the main character’s positive attitude to his lengthy imprisonment in a hotel in Moscow enables him to lead a rich and fulfilling life. I can thoroughly recommend “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles. In the present circumstances the philosophy might be of value to us all
Have you ever heard the Buddhist saying: “When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is.”
This seems a useful philosophy for us all in the present situation and it is also the belief which is adopted by Count Alexander Rostov in Amor Towles’ novel “A Gentleman in Moscow”. In 1922 he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin.
As you begin to read, you wonder how an author could possibly make a lengthy sojourn within the confines of one hotel into an interesting and enjoyable novel. However, Towles’ skill is such that the reader becomes enthralled by the Count and the many characters he comes to know in the hotel, both staff and guests.
The development of the plot and the interweaving of storylines are endlessly fascinating and the reader is soon lost in the universe that is life in the Metropol.
The idea that even if you cannot control what is happening, you can control how you respond to your circumstances and, in that way, you regain some of the power over your life, is central to the Count’s philosophy of life. His attitude makes his confinement a positive experience for him and an uplifting one for the reader.
In the present circumstances perhaps this philosophy might be of value to us all. I can thoroughly recommend this book so why not put your feet up and escape to Moscow. No need to worry that you cannot get to the library as the book is available to buy very reasonably on-line in both paperback and Kindle versions.
Book 3 from Fiona Riley (Trustee)
– Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
Actually, although Sense and Sensibility is one of my favourite Jane Austen novels, I would unhesitatingly recommend any one of the six completed works. If you haven’t read anything by Jane Austen recently or you only know of her work through one of the many films or tv adaptations , this might be a good time to try.
I think you will be surprised by the humour in her novels and although I reread them all annually, I always notice something new.
Sense and Sensibility is the story of the Dashwood family and what happens after the death of Henry Dashwood. Like all her novels, the story is beautifully written and also shows us how hard life was for women in Georgian times , when they were dependant on the males in the family for financial support, as was Jane Austen herself.
The older two Dashwood sisters Elinor and Marianne, react very differently to their changed circumstances and also to their potential suitors, hence the title of sense and sensibility.
As with all her work, the writing is subtle and elegant, making it quite clear why her works are as much, if not more, in demand just over 200 years after her untimely death
Book 2 from Ruth McCartney (Trustee)
– The Dry by Jane Harper
I read this about 3 years ago and could not put it down. It is set in the outback of Australia which is going through the worst draught in a century. It hasn’t rained for 2 years!
When three members of one family are brutally murdered everyone thinks they know who did it. Aaron Falk, a policeman, returns to his hometown for a funeral and he is drawn in to discover who the murderer was.
The descriptions of the Australian countryside, the heat and the dryness will make you feel you are there and I promise, you will not be able to put it down until you find out what happened.
Book 1 from Veronica Chapman (Trustee)
– The Kings Witch by Tracy Borman
Tracy Borman is joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. I bought this book after hearing Tracy speak at the Warwick History Festival where she explained why she wrote the book. It begins with the death of Elizabeth 1st in 1603, continues with the reign of James 1st and vividly portrays how dangerous it was to live in this time. The King’s court was decadent with excess in every form but James also brought a violent persecution of suspected witches. The central character, Frances Gorges, really existed but little is known of her life which, as Tracy explained made her an ideal heroine for a novel. Of course, the Gunpowder Plot features heavily along with mention of many well-known Warwickshire Houses.
The story has intrigue, love and sadness. I could not put it down and if you like historical novels with a big dose of fact, then I recommend this book.