I’d had Kokomo by Victoria Hannan for quite a while before I picked it up to read. It’d been garnering a lot of praise from from bookstagrammers, bloggers and reviewers so—although the cover looked like something out of Fifty Shades of Grey—I decided to give it a try.
It’s no secret I’m a fan of Jane Austen. In fact, it’s almost exactly 11 years ago since I finally binge-read all of her work. I’d been away (at fat camp – long story) and took The Complete Works of Jane Austen with me. Devouring the tome easily.
It surprised me because though I’d loved the BBC miniseries of Pride & Prejudice and the Gwyneth Paltrow/Toni Collette movie version of Emma (my interest was predominantly piqued by Colin Firth and Jeremy Northam respectively), I’d not even considered reading her books. And I hate(d) historical fiction.
It was only then I understood the eloquent and witty genius of the woman (so) ahead of her time.
The blurb of The Spill by Imbi Neeme talks about the relationship between two sisters who remember their childhoods quite differently.
I was intrigued by that as I often have very specific memories of events from my childhood or teenage years which my mother debunks. They feel real or true to me and yet mum is like… “That didn’t happen.” It’s weird, to misremember things. I ponder how those memories were planted in my head. Were they things I wanted or thought at the time, or have they replaced the real events with the advantage of hindsight or wistfulness years later.
I really loved Anstey Harris’s The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, released in early 2019. It is an understated book. If I wanted to sound wanky I’d say it’s about the human condition. Or perhaps it’s about all of those things that happen in our lives that make us the people we are. That make us ‘why’ we are.
The Museum of Forgotten Memories offers something quite different. Again though there’s some quirk, past secrets and a focus on relationships.
I’d requested The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan by Lisa Ireland for review but unfortunately didn’t receive it. I have a rule that I’m not allowed to buy any books until the end of the year and then I’m only allowed to buy those that might make my ‘best of the year’ post. My weird logic is two-fold. I’m not really working at the moment so can’t justify buying many books PARTICULARLY when I receive so many for review. And my to-be-read (TBR) pile stresses me and I don’t want or need to add to that guilt – although there are quite a few books on there I’ve not requested and are outside of my usual reading genre.
Anyhoo, I’ve really loved Lisa Ireland’s last two books The Shape of Us and The Art of Friendship and met Lisa and also really like her. (I’ve mentioned before if I tend to like someone in person I generally find I like their writing!) So, when a friend suggested I borrow her copy of The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan I jumped at the chance. And thank god I did as I loved it! In fact it’s probably my favourite of the three (of Lisa’s books) I’ve read.
I keep vowing to stop reading books about parenting. I realise actual parents probably enjoy them and can definitely relate; but the mummy (mommy) wars and good vs bad parenting dilemma aren’t really high on my relevance agenda. Having said that, I do read a lot of books about sociopaths damaged by bad parenting, so…. I guess there’s that.
As it happens, I decided to read Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan however because I’d read and enjoyed a previous novel, Anatomy of a Scandal, by the former political reporter.
Fortunately for her (and thankfully for me), O’Leary certainly didn’t fall into the dreaded second-book trap (ie. in which it’s a disappointment: either an ‘actual’ disappointment, or just in comparison to the debut) as I was absolutely smitten with her new novel, The Switch.
I read it over two nights – which is unusual for me as I’m normally all about instant gratification. However, I had to put it aside on the first night and returned to it the next and…. those who know me would have seen my tweet (below)… I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t want it to end.
All of Natasha Lester’s novels have featured ground-breaking women. Those ahead of their time – battling society’s norms and often weighed down by the expectations of those they love.
Her books I’ve enjoyed most have probably featured women with more virtuous pursuits (and I don’t mean to imply beauty products/make-up or designing fashion aren’t lofty life goals). Her first book, A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald featured a woman battling to get into medical school in the early 1920s; her last, The French Photographer a female war photographer.
Her books unfold in multiple timeframes, usually the past and present(ish). Her latest, The Paris Secret is no different and is probably my favourite since her first. Not only did I enjoy the characters and their stories, but Lester’s writing is quite exquisite.
I very much enjoyed Cassie Hamer’s debut novel, After The Party. I followed her via Twitter before she was published so we’d sort of circled each other virtually for some time. She seemed like the sort of person I’d like IRL… if you know what I mean? You often get an idea of what someone might be like through their interactions with you and others even if you’ve not met them in person.
And Hamer’s accessible, familiar and easy prose in After The Party only cemented that feeling for me.