The Possible World
literary fiction, contemporary, women's fiction,
July 12, 2018
'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.
More Than Us
families, parents, autism
21st May 2018
When parents disagree on how to care for their child, is it justifiable to take extreme measures?
Emily and Paul have a glorious home, money in the bank and two beautiful children. Since leaving Scotland for Paul to play football for an Australian team they have been blessed. But sadness lies behind the picture-perfect family - sixteen-year-old Cameron has battled with health troubles his entire life. There's no name for what he has, but his disruptive behaviour, OCD and difficulty in social situations is a constant source of worry.
When Paul's career comes to a shuddering halt, he descends into a spiral of addiction, gambling away the family's future. By the time he seeks help, it's his new boss Damien who recommends and pays for a rehab facility.
While Paul is away, Emily has to make a tough decision about their son. She keeps it from Paul knowing he'll disapprove. And when a terrible accident reveals the truth, Paul takes his son and goes on the run, leaving Emily to care for fourteen-year-old Tilly, who unbeknown to her parents is fighting battles of her own.
Can the family join together for the sake of their loved ones, or will their troubles tear them apart?
When you first start reading this book, you are convinced that Cameron is autistic and has OCD. But as you read on, you realise that this is too simplistic – and anyway, the experts have said he isn’t on the spectrum.
Now the spectrum is very wide indeed as I know from my own family and so it is difficult to be so definitive. It is clear Cameron has some social difficulties and has some of the repetitive behaviours one might expect, but on the other hand, the meds don’t work and his behaviour remains challenging. His father is convinced that what he really needs is time away from his, in his view, overfussy mother, and no medicines.
So the parents disagree as to what is the best way to help their son, which is not unusual, and in this novel leads to extreme behaviour.
I thought the story rang true until we got to the last section about the cult. It just seemed to be too easy to join, especially as most of the members were rich. This seems to have been a twist added in for the sake of not having a straightforward storyline.
If you want to know how realistic the behaviour of Cameron is, then look back at the blog published on this site, on 23rd June by the book’s author, who is a practicing child psychiatrist.
The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde
gothic, historical romance
In the heatwave of 1959, four sisters arrive at Applecote Manor to relive their memories of hazy Cotswolds summers. They find their uncle and aunt still reeling from the disappearance of their only daughter, five years before. An undercurrent of dread runs through the house. Why did Audrey vanish? Who is keeping her fate secret? As the sisters are lured into the mystery of their missing cousin, the stifling summer takes a shocking, deadly turn. One which will leave blood on their hands, and put another girl in danger decades later . . .
A sad story of a family loss. and the on-going impact of just what happened five years before, and how the parents of Audrey coped.
I am not always a fan of literature set in the 1950s as it is some ways not far enough away to count as historical, but not near enough to be contemporary, yet this novel was so well written that it got over that reluctance. It described the Cotswolds well – I have visited often and so am familiar with it, and even contemplated living in one of its villages, but far too expensive now!
I enjoyed the story and thought the style good. I am not sure though that I would read another novel set in this period.
Fiction, women's fiction, politics
June 14, 2018
'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.