August Reading Round Up
The forbidden frontier / Zana Bell
Convict Charlotte is sent to Australia on a convict ship. Also travelling there is a missionary couple who subsequently offer Charlotte household work. The life of the convicts, settlers and their situations are portrayed realistically and it's not always a pretty sight. Relationships and conflicts make the story more interesting. Charlotte eventually flees Australia and participates in a mutiny that results in her ending up in a Maori village in the Bay of Islands. Sad in parts but an uplifting ending. Feisty heroine will capture your admiration. Great read.
Union Belle / Deborah Challinor
Story of Ellen, her family and community during the strikes of 1951. Her husband Tom is a miner in the Pukemiro coal mines. During this time a new man in town, Jack, shakes up Ellen's feelings and causes her to question her loyalties and role. The story gets a grip on you and even though I started getting mad at Ellen I couldn't stop reading it. :-) Interesting time period, and one that you don't often see in New Zealand fiction I think.
Girl with the pearl earring / Tracey Chevalier
Struck down by misfortune, Greit's family have to do something to help make ends meet, so she goes to be a maid for the Vermeer family (of painterly fame). Fitting into a new household with different religious beliefs, and having to find her feet with the dynamics of each family member, Griet is delighted when Vermeer gives her charge of helping in the studio. Things become difficult when Vermeer develops an obsession with her and his wife begins to realise. Good read.
French Spirits: a house, a village and a love affair in Burgundy / Jeffery Greene
An American poet and his wife transform an old stone presbytery into a home. Renovations and living in a different country make for an interesting story. Heart warming and honest.
Chandlers Run / Denise Muir
Adam and his family emigrate to the South Island of New Zealand in the hopes that the clean, mountain air will help Adam's TB. They discover his Uncle's station burnt to the ground and the Uncle himself mission upon their arrival. They face strenuous hardship to get the station back into order, made worse by Adam's physical weakness, ignorance and isolation. Their neighbour, a grumpy widow and James McKenzie, a shepherd (and NZ folk legend) assist them. Good story even though the ending is a bit "meh" for me!
A small part of history / Peggy Elliot
From the blurb ~ " At the age of 27 Rebecca becomes the third wife of John Springer. Thankfully her four stepsons like and obey her, but Sarah, her step-daughter, is proving to be more difficult. Then John decides to pack up and move to the other side of America. It's a long and arduous journey across plains, mountains and rivers, through blistering heat and blizzards that last for days. Rebecca does her best to feed and care for her new family, despite appalling adversity. At first Rebecca and the 15-year-old Sarah find their fledgling relationship stretched almost to breaking point but, eventually, their bond deepens, and becomes breakable only by death." I really did enjoy this book, but just to warn you, lots of major characters die in it! It's told from several different voices and is well written.
3 (I think)