Fuller, Alexandra (2015) Leaving Before the Rains Come. Penguin. In this latest instalment of Alexandra Fuller’s memoir she looks back to her African youth to understand the disintegration of her marriage. Alexandra recalls her courtship in Zambia as she struggles to come to terms with her life in Wyoming, and the pragmatism of her husband. She hankers for the fatalistic and uncompromising ways of her father and Africa. In seeking salvation from a hazardous and dramatic past, she discovers that wishful thinking is no panacea for a sense of displacement and loss. Reflective and rueful. Rating: 8/10.
DeSanctis, Marcia (2014) 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go. Travelers’ Tales. From the 100 Places series. Marcia DeSanctis draws on her years of travel and living in France to capture 100 must-do vignettes from vineyards, markets, architectural treasures and fabled gardens to art, history, style and fascinating women. Full of advice, humour, and adventure for the woman traveller with limited time to experience the alluring places of France. Rating: 8/10.
Evans, Lissa (2014) Crooked Heart. Doubleday. Ten-year-old Noel Bostock is evacuated from London, to escape the Blitz, and ends up staying with the impulsive and dodgy Vee Sedge. Noel is grieving for his ex-suffragette godmother, Mattie, who has brought him up to be a free spirit and have a disdain for authority. The war has thrown up new ways of making money and Noel and Vee cook up a scam and they soon start to make a profit. As they chase around London under a rain of bombs, amidst schemers and scoundrels, this unlikely duo become a team. A dark little comedy set during a time of privations and terror. Rating: 8/10.
Diamandis, Peter H & Steven Kotler (2015) Bold: How to go big, create wealth, and impact the world. Simon & Schuster. Bold explores exponential technologies that are disrupting Fortune 500 companies and enabling entrepreneurs to develop billion-dollar businesses. It utilises insights from the world’s mega-rich, and provides a guide on how to design and tap into the hyperconnected resources that can expedite a great idea. A how-to manual on using emerging and “crowd” technologies to build communities and marketplaces. Stimulating. A “must read” for entrepreneurs and futurists. Rating: 9/10.
Enright, Anne (2015) The Green Road. Norton. 2015 Man Booker longlisted. Rosaleen, the matriarch of the Madigans, lives in a small town on Ireland’s Atlantic coast. She is difficult and demanding, but nonetheless the mainstay for her four adult children who have been living disparate lives in Dublin, New York and Mali, linked only by their memories of childhood. When they come home for a last Christmas Rosaleen announces she is selling the family home which provokes a crisis. Spanning thirty years this family portrait is told through gritty personal stories. Stark and subtle. Stunning. Rating: 9.5/10.
Beale, Fleur (2015) I am Rebecca. Random House. Rebecca and her twin sister Rachel are members of a strict cult community called the Children of the Faith. When they are 14 they are both betrothed, to be married after their 16th birthdays, Rachel to her true love and Rebecca destined for the severe and “randy” seventy-six year old Leader of the community. Is Rebecca ready to enter the marriage bed or join the ungodly? A young adult psychological thriller, sequel to the classic I am not Esther. Gripping. Rating: 9/10.