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 Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – The Invention of Wings follows two girls from the deep south in the 19th century; Sarah and her slave Hetty. The book tracks their journey through adolescence and into adulthood exploring the challenges and emotions of the two both together and separately. I liked the way both girls were fighting their own battles in different ways. This book explored both slavery and feminism with strong characters.
2. The Muse by Jessie Burton – It’s 1967 and Odelle doesn’t realise how much life will change for her whilst working for Marjorie Quick in a London art gallery. In 1936 Olive is living with her art dealer father, and her mother in Spain at the beginning of the Spanish civil war when Isaac and Teresa arrive. Olive and Odelle’s stories are both rich in history and discrimination. Olive struggles for approval from her father whilst Odelle struggles to find a suitable job considering her qualifications. The various relationships in the book bring an added depth to the story; reluctant, embracing, adulterous and illicit. Jessie Burton has given us another tale of strong women pushing the boundaries in an unforgiving world.
3. The Silk Merchant’s Daughter by Dinah Jefferies – Nicole is half Vietnamese and half French. After her 18th birthday party in Hanoi in 1952 she is given the family’s old silk shop. It is here that she makes friends with O-Lan and Trâ’n who introduce her to the Vietnamese way of life. As the French and Vietnamese show increasing hostility towards each other, Nicole feels torn between her two heritages and struggles with her own identity. The Silk Merchant’s Daughter explores the politics of war, family secrets, betrayal and love in a beautiful yet tragic setting. A tearful and powerful story following Nicole into adulthood through some testing times.
4. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – Ove is a grumpy old man who has a life behind him and not much ahead of him. His story started with his rude introduction to his new neighbours and ended with me in tears! It is a mix of old memories with new interactions which encourage you to see more to Ove than just the grumpy man next door. If you liked Jonas Jonasson this is definitely one for you. It is emotional, funny and heartwarming. I loved the way Fredrik Backman developed Ove’s character throughout the book. I can’t recommend it enough.
5. The Last of Us by Rob Ewing – All adults are wiped out after a terrible virus, leaving only six of children stranded on a Scottish island. The Last of Us is compared to The Lord of The Flies. It’s an exploration of group dynamics, grief, and the struggle to survive. The narrator of the book, Rona, tells the story of how it happened; when the adults were struggling to save as many people from the virus as possible. This is in stark contrast to the bleak world of surviving day by day, hoping to be rescued, whilst they struggling with the grief of losing their families. The details of the outbreak itself haunted me for a few days as I considered how I would cope, what it must feel like to see death all around you, and to keep that determination whilst trying to escape what seems inevitable.