December Picks

Jan’s been reading:

Serba, Anne (2011) That woman: The life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor.  Weidenfeld & Nicolson.  Anne Sebba attempts to understand this fascinating and enigmatic American divorcee who nearly became Queen of England.  Referred to as ‘That woman’ by the Queen Mother, and accused of being  a spy, a witch, and a whore, she has been the subject of widespread gossip and fascination that has only increased with the years. Based on new archival material, this is a scrupulously researched biography which sheds new light on the character and motivations of this complex woman. A very hard  to like woman, but a fascinating biography nonetheless. Rating: 8.5/10.

Hill, Susan (2009). Howard’s End is on the landing; a year of reading from home. Profile Books.  A memoir of a reading life.  Susan Hill takes us on a personal journey through the books of a lifetime propping up  her old Gloucestershire farmhouse.  She visits the number of books that she owns but has never read, or has read but forgotten that she owned; and the many old favourites ripe for another outing.   A fair bit of meandering, with a  chance to reminisce; a revealing insight into a writer’s life. Her appended Final Forty  provide no surprises.  Started out as a love affair, but petered out towards the end.  Rating: 7.5/10.

Berendt, John (1994) Midnight in the garden of good and evil.  Random House.  An upcoming trip to Savannah inspired me to read this enduring best-seller.  The narrative’s  plot is based on real-life events that occurred in the 1980s.  Peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters, and a landmark murder case, this remarkable book kept me totally engaged through to the end. Could not put it down.  Rating: 9/10.

Roz’s been reading:

Frazier, Charles (2011) Nightwoods. Hodder & Stoughton.  Luce acts as caretaker to an empty decaying Lodge, a relic of holidaymakers a century before. Her days are long and peaceful, her nights filled with Nashville radio and yellow lights shimmering on the black lake. A solitary life, and the perfect escape, that is until the stranger children come, bringing fire, murder, and love. A new novel by the bestselling author of the classic Cold Mountain.  A realistic thought- provoking well structured novel set in the Appalachians with a  cleverly engineered climax. A great read.  Rating: 8.5/10.

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