Monthly Archives: March 2013
If you like your fiction from the dark side, have a look at Dead Good, the site for everyone who finds crime novels irresistible. It’s supported by publisher Random House and has news, articles, interviews and competitions to enjoy.
Review from Eileen – Crofton Reader Group
Andrea Levy – Long Song
The story takes place in Jamaica during the last turbulent years of slavery and is told by Miss July who was born into slavery on a sugar plantation. She is taken from her mother by Caroline Mortimer to train as a ladies maid.
Caroline and July are the main women in the story and although on the surface, one has all the power and the other has none, in reality it is a constant game of one-upmanship between them, in which July generally has the upper hand. Despite their differing status they are, in fact, both trapped by their circumstances.
Caroline finds herself in charge of the plantation and overseas its deterioration throughout the Negro uprisings and the eventual freeing of the slaves.
During her life Miss July experiences fear, violence, tragedy, success and love and bears two children. One of her children Thomas, who becomes a successful publisher, asks his mother to write down the story of her life and the book moves from the past to the present as we hear of July and how she now lives with Thomas, his wife and children.
The story of Jamaica told through the experiences of Miss July gives us a glimpse of the way of life of the planters and slaves and their differing outlook on life with humour and compassion and is an excellent read.
Review From Jane – Crofton Reader Group
Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell
The book follows Thomas of Hookton, an archer fighting for the English in France, at the beginning of the Hundred Years War
Seeking revenge and a stolen relic the reader witnesses, through Thomas, the brutal battles the English wage against the French. The English lay waste to the French lands taking crops and livestock to feed the army, ransacking homes for treasure to send back to England and brutally killing the men and taking the women, if they were lucky, for their own pleasure. They leave nothing behind.
Bernard Cornwell obviously researches his books well, going into great detail about the preparation for attack, the tactics of the attack and the armour and weapons used by the men and horses. The battle scenes were very descriptive and not for the faint hearted.
I felt I learnt much about the archers and their bows, arrows and their incredible skill.
The book ended with a unfinished business and I have borrowed the next two books in the trilogy, Vagabond and Heretic to find out if Thomas succeeded in his quest and what happened to the other characters of the book.
The longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (which used to be the Orange Prize) has been released. It’s a good mix of well known names and new authors and I can see several I’d like to try. Oh, and of course Hilary Mantel is listed again! Do you think there should still be a prize for fiction written by women? Which books would you like to read?
From the Reviews page
”There are some books that become known because of a huge publicity campaign, others become known through word of mouth. I tend to avoid the former, but will often hunt out the latter to see what all the fuss is about. One of the books that falls into the second category is “The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce. At first I thought it was going to be a travelogue along the lines of “Today I walked 8 miles and visited Bath. Weather sunny”. I couldn’t have been more wrong as it deals with a marriage that has been slowly falling apart and the troubles that can occur in a life. I’d certainly recommend this to anyone who wants a thoughtful read and it does have a happy ending!”
I read this book very quickly because I couldn’t put it down -I had to see what would happen next. It’s moving, funny and thought-provoking with some unexpected twists. Perhaps a good book for Readers Groups- what do you think?