Historical Fiction , Literary Fiction
HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction
03 May 2018
Struggling artist Jimmy Whistler is at war with his patron. Denied full payment, he and muse Maud Franklin face ruin.
As Jimmy’s enemies mount, he resolves to sue a famous critic for libel, in a last-ditch attempt to ward off the bailiffs. Although she has no position in society, Maud is expected to do her part. But Maud has a secret that forces her to choose between art and love.
Mrs Whistler is a dazzling glimpse inside a world of passion, art and power.
A nice blend
of reality plus imagination – as the author himself admits, the exact circumstances
cannot be known as there were no diaries, and ‘Mrs’ Whistler herself and her actions
and feelings were never documented at the time.
clear that Whistler was not only a braggart but also naive and always thought
that either people were his friends or his enemies and never considered that
some may have had dubious reasons for being his friend – see Howell. And were
so many of his paintings really destroyed? If so, it was a real shame. But his
classic painting of his mother is still to be viewed.
though I cannot agree with his reaction to Burne-Jones having seen a recent
exhibition of his work where it demonstrates just how good he was, and how
multi-talented, despite his later somewhat fanciful works of angels etc.
I am great
fan of Whistler’s moody paintings where the items are barely distinguishable –
the low light and almost monochromatic effect are wonderful.
I surprised myself by enjoying the book, but then I like (almost) all the Pre-Raphaelite painting/painters and found this an interesting exposition of just how they lived – so many debts – yet so much entertaining, and the fostering of children was heart-rending to read about.
General Fiction (Adult) , Literary Fiction
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ)
07 May 2019
THE MUST-READ DEBUT NOVEL OF 2019. Sharp, compulsive and darkly funny, this is an unforgettable novel about a world within touching distance of our own.
Ambitious businesswoman Mae Yu runs Golden Oaks – a luxury retreat transforming the fertility economy – where women get the very best of everything, so long as they play by the rules.
Jane is a young immigrant in search of a better future. Stuck living in a cramped dorm with her baby daughter and shrewd aunt Ate, she sees an unmissable chance to change her life. But at what cost?
A novel that explores the role of luck and merit, class, ambition and sacrifice, The Farm is an unforgettable story about how we live and who truly holds power.
A book that makes you think about your own moral code and just when you might be tempted to farm out a body! Yes, a body – perhaps your own body, or perhaps you might farm someone else’s?
And what would you be cultivating? Why a baby?
So The Handmaid’s Tale with a twist and actually something that is all too likely to be inexistence, and as it would be very secret, we would never know.
We all know that people use surrogate mothers when they can’t have babies for themselves – male couples for instance, or perhaps when they can’t carry a child themselves due to illness or…
But the premise in this book is that the uber-rich may want to use surrogates for other reasons. Perhaps they are too old have a child, perhaps they are too busy, or perhaps they just don’t want to ‘spoil’ their figures? Or just go through the grind of pregnancy?
And how to choose your surrogate? What would motivate them? There are good reasons why in the UK you cannot pay the surrogate expect for reasonable expenses, and also, even with a contract, the child is still the ‘property’ of the person who carries it through pregnancy. In Australia the law prevents commercial surrogacy, and this is the case in most countries. In some even altruistic surrogacy is banned, eg France and Germany; but in the US it is decided by the State. States generally considered to be surrogacy friendly include California, Illinois, Arkansas, Maryland, Washington D.C., Oregon and New Hampshire among others. Both New Hampshire and Washington State have laws permitting commercial surrogacy from 1/1/2019.
So a very timely book on a subject that is very controversial still. Well written and one that I couldn’t put down – I wanted to know what happened to the young women who contracted out their bodies for pregnancy and still think that Jane was badly treated despite what she thought!
Fiction, psychological, thrillers, mystery, fantasy
May 3, 2018
A brilliant high-concept debut thriller - just how do you solve a murder when you only remember yesterday? the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband's mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago. You can't recall what he did that day, because you only remember yesterday. You rely on your diary to tell you where you've been, who you love and what you've done. So, can you trust the police? Can you trust your husband? Can you trust yourself?
In this alternate Britain (world?), there are 2 types of people. They are differentiated by what they can remember in short term memories. Monos, can only remember what happened today and need a reminder of what happened yesterday; duos can remember both days. Bot people use Apple idiaries to record the important happenings of each day. Duos are only 30% of the population but hold the best jobs, monos are limited to lower paid often manual labour. The two types don’t marry each other, except that the couple in the story have – and for 20 years.
I found myself strangely reluctant to read to the end as the novelist is clearly writing it as a political statement – see the section about the 10 things you must know about a world where people would have full short term memory recall. Not all of which statements I agree with, but some certainly resonate.
The premise of the novel about the issues and short term memory just didn’t grab me as a metaphor for religion, race, ethnicity, skin colour or whatever Yap was intending it to be. I prefer these stories to be more straightforward.
When your whole life is a lie, can you trust anyone? Even yourself?
ANNA has always been taught by her mother that cleanliness and purity are the path to God; that her heart's desire to visit Astroland, Florida’s biggest theme park, is ungodly.
But it’s her eighteenth birthday, and Anna’s feeling rebellious. But on arrival at Astroland, everything feels familiar. Almost like she’s been there before…
ROSIE has grown up in the shadow of a missing sister she barely remembers. Her parents’ relationship has been fractured by fifteen years of searching for their daughter – abducted at Astroland as an infant.
Now Rosie is determined to uncover the truth, no matter how painful it is, before it tears what’s left of her family apart…
Beautifully told from the different teenage girls’ perspectives.
The narrative to this story is told in two voices – Anna and Rosie.
Anna lives with her mother in small town Florida. Her mother is a cleanliness fanatic – cleanliness of the heart, mind and body, also very frugal and constantly praying.
Rosie lives in the UK and lost her elder sister in a Florida amusement park when she was a baby. Her sister was stolen in some manner and may have been killed but no-one knows the real circumstances behind her abduction.
The 15th anniversary of the abduction rolls around and Rosie finds herself increasingly frustrated at not knowing the truth, whilst Anna wants to find her father and to discover who is sending her messages.
Slowly the story explores the lives of these two girls, holding the reader in suspense. The power of cults is also explored through the story.
Sophia's parents have lead quiet, unremarkable lives. At least that is what she's always believed. Until the day she arrives at her childhood home to find her mother hanging from a tree in the garden. Her father lying in a pool of his own blood, near to death. The police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. But Sophia is sure that the woman who brought her up isn't a killer. To clear her mother's name Sophia needs to delve deep into her family's past - a past full of dark secrets she never suspected were there . . .
An architect, Sophia, goes home only to find that everything that she thought she knew about her parents was untrue. It all comes out when she discovers her parents dead at their small nursery garden – only her father survives the stabbing. the police believe that it had been an attempt at a joint suicide, or that her mother had attempted to kill her father and then hung herself in remorse. neither scenario makes sense.
This follows a series of break-ins at the nursery – which seems odd as it was small and not doing well and thus would have little to offer a would-be burglar. perhaps there was another reason for he crime?
Sophia then meets her estranged grandmother and things begin to change, and the mystery deepens as a lost manuscript that her mother was apparently writing, comes into play.
A good suspense story with Sophia gradually discovering the truth about her parents’ lives and her own family. nicely written with the plot becoming more tense as Sophia finds out more.