How memory travels

The Possible World Book Cover The Possible World
Liese Schwarz
literary fiction, contemporary, women's fiction,
Hutchinson
July 12, 2018
400

'Every now and then I come across a book I wish I'd written. The Possible World is one of those... A gorgeously wrought exploration of who gets to tell the story of our lives, and who gets to inhabit that story with us' Jodi Picoult

Ben is the sole survivor of a crime that claims his mother and countless others. He is just six years old, and already he must find a new place for himself in the world.

Lucy, the doctor who tends to Ben, is grappling with a personal upheaval of her own. She feels a profound connection to the little boy who has lived through the unthinkable. Will recovering his memory heal him, or damage him further?

Clare has long believed that the lifetime of secrets she's been keeping don't matter to anyone anymore, until an unexpected encounter prompts her to tell her story.

As they each struggle to confront the events - past and present - that have defined their lives, something stronger than fate is working to bring them together...

This is a story with a difference.

I am calling it fantasy as it makes an assumption about how souls and their memories can be transferred from one person to anotehr after death.

At first I found  it tricky to follow what was going on but suddenly it all came clear and I was entranced. It would have been 5 stars if I hadn’t been tempted to put the book down after a couple of chapters due my confusion.

It is gently written in a clear and unassuming style. A style that is easy to get lost in and a book that I didn’t want to end.

The description of the hurricane was devastating and Clare’s life, of penance almost, afterwards, was told with great empathy and affection for this damaged woman. And Leo, as he told his story, was so tragic, you really wanted to cuddle him forever. You forget now, just how harsh some of the religious houses were for orphans – the way they were treated like indentured servants despite their ages, and one can only be thankful, that this no longer happens. Although, orphanages are still far from good….

Read this book to find out what the Depression was really like for the American South.

 

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Suffragettes Unite!

Old Baggage Book Cover Old Baggage
Lissa Evans
Fiction, women's fiction, politics
Doubleday UK
June 14, 2018
288

'Essential . . . Evans is a brilliant storyteller' Stylist What do you do next, after you've changed the world? It is 1928. Matilda Simpkin, rooting through a cupboard, comes across a small wooden club - an old possession of hers, unseen for more than a decade. Mattie is a woman with a thrilling past and a chafingly uneventful present. During the Women's Suffrage Campaign she was a militant. Jailed five times, she marched, sang, gave speeches, smashed windows and heckled Winston Churchill, and nothing - nothing - since then has had the same depth, the same excitement. Now in middle age, she is still looking for a fresh mould into which to pour her energies. Giving the wooden club a thoughtful twirl, she is struck by an idea - but what starts as a brilliantly idealistic plan is derailed by a connection with Mattie's militant past, one which begins to threaten every principle that she stands for. Old Baggage is a funny and bittersweet portrait of a woman who has never, never given up the fight.

What do you do when the Suffragette Movement, to which you had given your youth is not more? And the First World War killed off many men and left many women single – which was not a considered a ‘natural’ state in the early part of the 20th century? And then, you still had not achieved all that you wanted to when you joined the movement, but society was not set up for you to achieve those aims – such as actually being given a degree in a degree awarding ceremony, such as running a business and obtaining a loan in your own name, or even taking part in the Olympics such that a Women’s Olympic Games was set up…

In this book we follow the stories of some of these women in the 1920s. Now middle-aged they are single – most of them – or have ‘settled’ into a marriage. And they find that young girls are rather unadventurous. And  Right Wing politics were beginning to advance into the local area – which happens to be Hampstead in London.

All of which story is dear to my heart as a graduate of Mary Buss schooling.

This is a gentle story but with some serious points to make about how insidious the politics of the right can be, and how easy it was, and still is from time to time, to belittle the work of women and their ambitions – hence the lack of women on Boards – still!

I really enjoyed reading this book and found the characters believable and empathetic and was reminded – again – about my own youth and the restrictions that there still were on girls then in general.

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Just how do you spell it?

Elefant Book Cover Elefant
Martin Suter
animals, science, literary fiction
Fourth Estate
May 21, 2018
208

The international bestseller about friendship, second chances, and a tiny glow-in-the-dark pink elephant What would you do if you woke up to see a living, breathing, tiny, glowing, pink elephant? If you're anything like Schoch, who lives on the streets of Zurich and is decidedly down on his luck, you might well think it's time to put away the bottle before your hallucinations get any stranger, and go back to sleep. But what if the tiny pink elephant is still there when you wake up? And clearly needs someone to take care of it? And what if you discover that it's been created through genetic engineering, by a group of scientists who just want to use it to get rich and don't care about the elephant's welfare? And that they're in cahoots with a circus and will stop at nothing to get it back? What if this little elephant is about to change your life?

An apposite story of the issues and challenges of genetic manipulation of embryos, just as the UK law permits such manipulation for Cystic Fibrosis. The thin edge whereby such ‘surgery’ may occur in the future, either for illnesses that are caused by faulty genes, or for traits that are, or are not, required – such as a pink glow-in-the-dark skin! (and as there may, or may not be, a malfunctioning gene for fat cells, could I have this surgery too please?)

Initially, I was not sure of this book and story, but I was gradually drawn in to finding out about the homeless and  their lives, and then the circus. And then there was the geneticist and the elephants.

In the end, you could say that this is a fable for scientists. Or you could call it sentimental, or even redemptive. for me, it was all of these things. This tiny elephant was born for a reason, and she impacted a number of lives to bring them what, you could argue, they deserved. For good or ill.

Nicely written, and a story I couldn’t put down.

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Not one but two in the marriage

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire Book Cover Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
Amanda Foreman
history, literary fiction, social history, military
HarperCollins UK
1999
463

Follows the turbulent life of the young noblewoman who became the style icon of late eighteenth-century England.

I loved the film and found the history and character of Georgiana fascinating. She was a complicated and complex person in a very complex and complicated world, where one did not marry for love but for family enhancement and improvement.

Unfortunately, I did not find the novel quite as fascinating and maybe I shouldn’t have seen the film first? Films of novels are never quite true to the story and sometimes the history changes for convenience. I probably expected too much from the novel.

It is good but not good enough to keep me enthralled and not unputdownable.

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What comes next?

On the Other Side Book Cover On the Other Side
Carrie Hope Fletcher
magic, occult, literary fiction
Sphere
February 23, 2017
432

THE NUMBER ONE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER 'An enchanting and magical love story that reminded me so much of Cecelia Ahern' Ali McNamara EXCLUSIVE! Contains an extract from Carrie's next novel All That She Can See! Your soul is too heavy to pass through this door, Leave the weight of the world in the world from before Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. It's the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she's become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won't open. Evie's soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must find a way to reveal them before it's too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow, some way, she may also find her way back to the only man she ever truly loved . . . Powerful, magical and utterly romantic, On the Other Side will transport you to a world that is impossible to forget. A love story like no other, it will have you weeping from the sheer joy and beauty of it all.

My daughter recommended this book to me as a really interesting book and nice to read.

I found it rather boring. I couldn’t get into it and found the whole premise rather sugary… sorry Darling!

But if you like this kind of thing – critics loved it – romantic, enchanting etc were the words bandied about, but it just didn’t do it for me. I failed to get more than about 20% of the way through.

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