Wednesday, March 25, 2009

February Reading Round Up

The heart is a lonely hunter / Carson McCullers
A quiet, sensitive girl reaches for beauty in a small Southern town. ~from the blurb This one is considered to be classic American literature.
Started, didn't finish. Found this one hard to get into. The style of writing and the desperate lives of the characters didn't appeal to me at the time and then I had to return it to the library. Maybe I'll try again.

In search of Africa / Frank Coates
Kip Balmain, a young Australian boy taken to a small town in Africa, finds himself caught up in the violence of colonial Kenya. As the country struggles towards independence, Kip also struggles to understand his mother's vindictive hatred of the father he has never met - and resolves to uncover the mystery of his parentage. In Uganda, Rose Nasonga, a girl at risk after her idyllic village life becomes a nightmare of civil war, uses her beauty to escape into the world of fashion. Out of the horrors of war, across the boundaries of time and race, Kip and Rose discover that their lives are mysteriously linked. And that the paths they travel alone, and ultimately together, lead them inexorably to their greatest discovery.~from the blurb.
Quite a good story, typical star-crossed lover type scenario along the lines of Wilbur Smith but with more depth.

Shakespeare's wife
/ Germaine Greer

Little is known about the wife of England's greatest playwright; a great deal, none of it complimentary, has been assumed. The omission of her name from Shakespeare's will has been interpreted as evidence that she was nothing more than an unfortunate mistake from which Shakespeare did well to distance himself. Yet Shakespeare is above all the poet of marriage. Again and again in his plays constant wives redeem unjust and deluded husbands, but scholars persist in believing Shakespeare's own wife was no help to him and even that he hated her. In Shakespeare's Wife, Germaine Greer combines literary-historical techniques with documentary evidence about life in Stratford, striving to re-embed the story of Shakespeare's marriage in its social context.~from the blurb
Started, didn't finish. I really wanted to get through this but I wasn't in the right frame of mind to do it, and then it was due back at the library. Lots of historical detail, dates and connections are explored and I need to be in the mood for that sort of style. Will try this one again at a later date.

Barbed wire and roses / Peter Yeldham

They were our golden youth, seeking adventure on foreign battlefields. The First World War, everyone said in 1914, would be over by Christmas, and Stephen Conway rushes to enlist in the belief he should fight for King and Empire. Leaving behind a new wife and a baby on the way, he soon finds himself in the trenches of Gallipoli. Four horrific years later, Stephen is the only survivor of his platoon, shell-shocked and disillusioned, and during the heat of battle on the bloodstained fields of France, he mysteriously disappears. Stephen's ultimate fate is still a mystery when more than eighty years later his grandson Patrick finds a diary that leads him to Britain and France on a journey to discover what really happened. It is a journey during which he unexpectedly finds love, and the truth about his grandfather's fate that is even stranger and more shocking than he imagined.~from the blurb
This novel was very engaging. At first I thought it would be a typical coming of age type story set in WW1 but it turned out to be much more deeper than that. It addresses the sensitive topic of so called "cowardice" and desertion so despised at that time and it's affect on the person, their families and friends. Parallel to the WW1 story is a present day conflict between Patrick and his wife which occurs during Patrick's investigations.

Crossed bones / Jane Johnson

In an exclusive London restaurant, a gift is given that will change Julia Lovat's life. The antique book of Jacobean embroidery delights her, but when she settles down to read it more closely, she unexpectedly discovers within its foxed and faded pages; the extraordinary diary of a young Cornish girl, calling to her from across the centuries. The stories of these two women are destined to converge in an extraordinary and haunting manner.~ from the blurb.
Also enjoyed this one. It surprised me with the complexity of plot and I enjoyed the element of exotica that emerges through the events of the story.

Didn't manage to read so much in February. We spent a lot of time repainting our room so not so much opportunity to read.


  1. I'm going to try Barbed wire and roses - sounds like my kind of book!

  2. Didn't read so much! Pah! Your 'not much' puts most of us to shame.

    I am hanging out for some March Book Circle reviews before I post mine (I didn't like it - is that wrong?)

  3. Must say teh barb wire one appeals to me as well. I didn't like the March book either. ( I didn't fifnish it either, as I thought it was crap)lol. I drafted a review maybe I should post it.

  4. I read the Africa book a few years back and enjoyed it

  5. I haven't even managed to lay hands on the book for March yet! My sister-in-law was going to lend me her copy but ended up being unable to find it.

    I've read a whole bunch of books that weren't on my "to read" list though and I have bookmarks sitting in 5 different books at the moment (admittedly 2 are ones I'm reading aloud to the kids). I think I may have broken the book drought I'd been suffering!

    I gave Shakespeare's Wife to my Dad for Christmas, don't know if he's read it yet. I plan on borrowing it from him at some point.

  6. Hi Penny

    I really enjoyed "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" when I read it, mostly for the quirkiness of the characters.

    I can see what you are saying about having to be in the right space to read it though. Definitely one of those books.

    Must review "Extremely Close...." before the end of the month, which I absolutely loved. It was brilliant, IMO!