Reading this month has been a very eclectic group of books. I do like to read from varying genres just to keep my interest with variety. This month spans historical fiction to biographical non-fiction, to friendship and philosophy. Thank goodness for sales and Amazon gift cards, and our local library which was able to send me a really hard to find book from the other side of the state!! I’ve linked the titles to Amazon so you can see the synopsis and other reviews if you wish. Thank you for using my affiliate links when you can.
Cometh the Hour is the next book in the Clifton Chronicles series by Jeffrey Archer. Easy-read writing, and a story that just keeps on going. This is book 6 of a seven part series, and just as enjoyable as the first 5. Between English politics, business deals, backstabbing, plans within plans, plots and twists, the entire Clifton family will keep you guessing as what comes next. Set in the 1970s, the Barrington Clifton empire is challenged again and again by unscrupulous dealings and sabotage from unlikely sources. Archer writes refreshingly original stories, thrillers with action and a bit of English humor, all with the backdrop of English society with both commoner and nobility. Recommend.
A big thank you goes out to Nanci Cartwright for her recommendation of the “Seasons” series in her comment on last month’s book review post. Written by author Melanie Lageschulte, Growing Season is the first of the series and it is a charming, heartwarming story of a woman finding a new life after being laid off. I have to say that I was skeptical when I found it was self published, as many times those writers do not have the benefit of a good editor, and desperately need one. But this series is definitely the exception. Descriptions of her small town life, complete with holiday parade, could have been written about the small town where I live. In this time of isolation, it is lovely to visit Prosper in a book. The jacket says the story “celebrates rural life” and I agree. It is an easy reading, uplifting story, that I liked so much I finished in one day. The character of Melinda reads like a real woman, and she makes logical decisions that make sense, not the incredibly stupid ones in other books I’ve read recently. I highly recommend this one, and I just put the next one in the series on my look-for list. There are six in the series so far, and I cannot wait to read them all.
This next charming book is a story for all ages. Originally, I saw it on a news story on BBC, and was intrigued enough to find a copy to read. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse tells a gentle story of a boy trying to get home and the friends he makes along the way. According to the author, Charlie Mackesy, it is a story of friendship, but I found it to be a philosophical journey as well.
The book itself is only 128 pages, with most having full page illustrations so it can be read in a matter of half an hour. But the images and thoughts will linger with you for much longer. Take this example: The boy asks the horse “what is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” and the horse answers “help.” Wow, think about that for a moment. In reaching out at our most vulnerable, we overcome our fears of inadequacy, of failure. And isn’t that the very definition of bravery? It is not a lack of fear, but to take action in the face of fear. That profound page is followed by this one-
Incredible. And the book has many more moments like this one. You could think about the message on a single page for days, exploring in your mind the sometimes profound implications. Highly recommend.
The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish was not an easy read. This is an epic length book, 560 pages, and written in two time periods but following the same woman’s life. It took the author 10 years to write, and untold hours doing research on the Jewish community and history of that time. Ms Kadish blends fiction with historical fact to produce an incredible novel. Ester lives in the 1660s in London as the Jewish community was reestablishing in that city. It was a time when women were forbidden to study, yet she is driven by a thirst for knowledge and answers to philosophical questions. The letters she write to Jewish leaders of the time in the name of a man pose questions that would get her executed if they were known. The language and sentence structure consistent with that time slows the reader as it a bit more difficult to understand. In the present day, her papers are found by a historian specializing in Jewish history, a woman who is at the end of her career. Her assistant has problems of his own which affect his work, and his decisions. This book is essentially a character study, in much the same way as The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova or The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It won a book award, and well deserved. Recommend for those willing to get through a long tome of historical fiction.
Four Kitchens by Lauren Shockey is a fun biographical account of a young chef’s adventures in the kitchens of four major cities with high end restaurants. Beginning in France, she realizes that she needs more than the one disappointing apprenticeship at a molecular gastronomy restaurant can offer. If she wants to learn, she’ll have to travel. She goes first to Vietnam, studying and eating under the tutelage of a French chef who has embraced the local cuisine. Studying in Tel Aviv and in Paris, she finds more than an education in cooking and culture. The book is written in an easy reading style, with humor and angst, and includes recipes from her travels.
So those are my books for this month. What are you reading now, or can recommend?