This week 20 bloggers from THE Book Club on Facebook are posting 20 of their favourite books. Each day I’ll be posting my recommendations here, and on the event page with links to the full review. These are not in order of preference, and have been selected across genres to give a wide range of recommendations.
1. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – It’s 1686 when Nella arrives in Amsterdam to move into her new husbands home. He presents her with a gift; a replica of their home in a cabinet. Nella hires a miniaturist to help furnish the small cabinet but gets more than she bargained for in a number of ways. This is a story of strong women in a male dominated world and acceptance of differences in a judgemental society. By the end of the book so much had happened that I immediately turned back to the beginning to read the first chapter again.
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett – The Help is a book written from the perspective of black maids in 1962. From a time where black people were considered dirty and could not share a toilet with white people; this story brings the uncomfortable truth about 1960’s America to your doorstep. The book is uncomfortable, hard hitting and funny all at the same time. It makes a very difficult message come across with ease.
3. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert – The Signature of All Things follows Alma through childhood, into adulthood and throughout her career. She falls in love with a man who challenges the scientist in her with his spiritual beliefs. The writing flows well and I loved the tone of the book. I also loved the touch points with historical figures and events scattered throughout. I was drawn to this book by the promise of a strong female character; a scientist in the 19th century making her way through life in a male and religion dominated world. I wasn’t disappointed at all.
4. The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies – Set in the 1920’s and 1930’s The Tea Planters Wife is a beautiful, tragic and heartwarming tale of life in Ceylon. Gwen travels there to meet her husband Laurence and begin their life together on his plantation. Gwen eventually finds herself faced with a life changing decision to make; one that will haunt the rest of her marriage. This, mixed with the racism of the time, the dichotomy of the plantation owner against the poverty of his workers, and historical events make this a fantastic read. I really liked Gwen, carrying a determination to do the right thing regardless of other’s opinions of her.
5. A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale – Harry Cane marries Winnie and they soon have a daughter together and settle down. Harry has an affair, but he gets caught and has to flee his new family to stop the truth getting out. Harry moves from Edwardian England to take on a homestead in Canada. He changes considerably there; from rich to almost poor, from unskilled to skilled and from a big family to having nobody but himself to rely on. This is a sweeping, romantic, heartbreaking story that left me feeling empty. The book envelops you in Harry’s emotions; the hard graft and loneliness of starting afresh, the love for his neighbours, disgrace, disappointment, betrayal, loyalty, pride, and the devastation of war.
Come back tomorrow for another five recommendations.