Jan’s Holiday Reads – January 2013

Livesey, Margot (2012)  The flight of Gemma Hardy.  Harper.  A retelling of Jane Eyre set in Scotland and Iceland in the 1950s.  When her widower father drowns at sea, ten-year-old Gemma Hardy goes to to live with her uncle’s family. But the death of her doting guardian soon after leaves Gemma under the resentful eye of her aunt, and her aunt quickly makes it clear, she is an unwelcome guest. She receives a scholarship to a private school, where she finds herself treated as an unpaid servant. To Gemma’s delight, the school finally goes bankrupt in 1959 and she takes a job as an au pair on the Orkney Islands with Mr Sinclair, a London businessman, and his eight-year-old niece.   Somewhat disappointing in its predictability.  Rating: 7.5/10.

4Jio, Sarah (2011) The Violets of March. Plume.  In her twenties Emily was on the road to success with a bestselling novel and a husband, bound for happily ever after.  A decade later with writer’s block and a divorce Emily heads to her childhood retreat of Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound.  There Emily discovers  a red velvet diary that will impact on her own life. Enchanting debut novel of the complexity of family roots, and how the past can impinge on the present.  Rating: 8/10.

n158428Lippi, Rosina (2006) Tied to the Tracks. Putnam.Tied to the Tracks, a small movie company from New Jersey, is offered the chance of a lifetime to make a film about the life of reclusive literary legend Miss Zula Bragg. For Angie Mangiamele and her award-winning team the offer is almost too good to be true – and impossible to pass up. But for Angie, the prospect of filming on location in Miss Zula’s home town in Georgia is a mixed blessing because it means coming face to face with the man she once thought was The One.  Warm and funny.  Great holiday read. Rating: 8/10.

4Flynn, Gillian (2012) Gone Girl. Crown. Just how well can you ever know the person you love? This is the question that Nick Dunne must ask himself on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him,  that she is pregnant… and the evidence keeps stacking up against him.  He swears none of it is true.  So what did really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife? In this gripping novel marriage truly is the art of war.  Will keep you on the edge of your seat until the bitter end. Rating: 9/10.

TCGraveWalker, Martin (2011) The Crowded Grave. Quercus.  Bruno, Chief of Police, is very busy – a French-Spanish summit being held at a local chateau is threatened by a Basque separatist group, animal rights campaigners are causing havoc attacking local foie gras farms, and the archaeological team digging for evidence of prehistoric man unearths a a well-preserved skeleton.  A welcome return of Bruno in this fourth novel, with all its culture, camaraderie and culinary exploits adding texture to crime-solving.  Rating: 8.5/10.

4Joyce, Graham (2012) Some Kind of Fairy Tale; a tale of enchantment. Gollancz.  One Christmas afternoon Peter Martin gets an unexpected phonecall from his parents, his long lost sister Tara has returned.  Twenty years ago Tara took a walk into the woods and never came back.  As the years have gone by, with no word, her the family had assumed she was dead. Now she’s back and full of an unbelievable story of abduction into the fairy realm.  She has a haunted otherworldly quality about her, and she hasn’t aged a day since she went missing, and nothing can shake her from her fantastical tale.  Layered and ominous, but a totally engaging tale.  Rating: 8.5/10.

50 IDEAS Future jkt.inddWatson, Richard (2012) 50 Ideas You Really Need to Know: The Future. Quercus.  What better time than a new year to preview what the world could look like in 2020, 2050 or even 2100?  Futurist Richard Watson presents a provocative survey on the wonders and terrors that await us and the legacy we are leaving for the next generation.  Rating: 9/10.

4James, Eloisa (2012) Paris in Love: a Memoir. Random House.  In 2009, New York Times bestselling romance author Eloisa James took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor, and moved her family to Paris. This memoir chronicles her  year  with her Italian husband and her two children, ages eleven and fifteen, as they navigate Paris, French life, and schools in a foreign language. Enjoyable vignettes; a snapshot of a sojourn in beautiful Paris.  Rating: 8.5/10.

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