De Courcy, Anne (2012) The Fishing Fleet: husband-hunting in the Raj. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. From the late nineteenth century when the Raj was at its height, many young women suffering from the lack of eligible young men back home, followed in the wake of Britain’s ‘best’ to India. These young women were known as the ‘Fishing Fleet’. After the honeymoon though life changed dramatically: often whisked off to a remote outpost, with few other Europeans for company, where constant vigilance was required to guard against disease, the brides found life a far cry from the social whirlwind of their first arrival. De Courcy’s fascinating narrative has been enriched by first hand sources. These untold stories enliven an almost forgotten period in history. Rating: 9/10.
Simsion, Graeme (2013) The Rosie Project. The Text Publishing Company. This Australian screw-ball romantic comedy is a joy from beginning to end. Don Tillman, a professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. Then a chance encounter gives him an idea. He will design a questionnaire – a sixteen-page, scientifically researched document – to find the perfect partner. Rosie Jarman is the antithesis of the woman he is looking for – herein lies the romance. Just loved this quirky and heartwarming story. Rating: 10/10.
Kelan, Elisabeth (2012) Rising Stars: Developing Millennial Women as Leaders Palgrave. Women are still scarce in the most senior positions in organisations, in spite of decades of equal opportunities. This has led to heated debate about the merit of quotas for women on boards and in senior roles. Rising Stars explores the issue of how Millennial women can be developed into leaders; it uses a heuristic which focuses on six dimensions: role models, authenticity, experiential learning, formal education, visibility and organisational culture, and draws on detailed original research, featuring signature practices from a variety of global businesses. Rating: 8/10.
Kingsolver, Barbara (2012) Flight Behavior. HarperCollins. Dellarobia, a restless Appalachian farmer’s wife, has her world transcended when she encounters a miracle: a silent forested valley filled by what looks like fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary manifestation, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media. Kingsolver takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our modern world: climate change. Her understanding and empathy for fragile ecosystems, makes the story convincing as she dissects the motivations that drive denial and belief. Compelling read. Rating: 8.5/10.
O’Brien, Edna (2012) Country Girl: A memoir. Faber and Faber. Edna O’Brien’s first novel The Country Girls so scandalized Ireland that it was banned upon publication in 1960. We follow O’Brien’s life from a deteriorating family home in western Ireland t0 pharmacy school, through elopement, the birth of two sons, divorce, single-motherhood, and the wild parties of the ’60s. There is love and unrequited love, and the glamour of trips, celebrities in the hundreds, and a heady accounting of events twenty-one books later. A sensuous rendition in memoir form from a writer whose early memorable novels are just as real to me today as they were when I first read them. Rating: 8.5/10.