Never having read a Douglas Kennedy book before I didn’t know what to expect, but I wasn’t disappointed. With its many twists and turns, The Pursuit of Happiness, kept me enthralled from beginning to end. Set in post war Manhattan in the aftermath of the WWII it is full of the unexpected. Definitely a book that you can’t put down.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
Well, what can I say other than I loved this book. Set in Guernsey in the aftermath of World War II the inhabitants tell, in a series of letters, about life on the Island during that war. This the author has done brilliantly, showing the resilience and bravery of the islanders in the face of loss and depravation and, at the same time, conveying their wit with her eccentric characters. A book that will brings a tear to the eye at times, but is also uplifting. It’s definitely one that I will keep on my shelf to read again.
Murder on the Ballarat Train: A Phryne Fisher Mystery by Kerry Greenwood
I enjoyed reading this book because it took me to Melbourne, Australia, in the 1920s and introduced me to, Phryne Fisher, an elegant, classy woman who uses her wealth, flirtatious ways, and intelligence to solve the crimes she is investigating. She is helped in this by an array of friends, all interesting characters in themselves. A great mystery series.
A Special Relationship by Douglas Kennedy
I enjoyed this book immensely even though it dealt with some of the more confronting issues in life. After worrying through the first half, I loved the second half when justice was seen to be done. As always, Douglas Kennedy’s ability to bring his characters to life on the page makes it impossible not to be immersed in the story.
I'll Bring You Buttercups by Elizabeth Elgin
If you like sagas, you will enjoy reading this book. Beginning in 1913 it takes the reader through the tumultuous years of the First World War and the changes it brought to the bygone era of Upstairs, Downstairs society. Gradually, you are drawn into all the characters lives and care about what happens to them. Consequently, I’m going to read their ongoing story in Daisy Chain Summer.
Fall of Giants is the first Kenneth Follett book I have read. It’s a big book, 850 pages, but surprisingly easy to read. It is set in the early part of the twentieth century, 1911-1924, and so much of the story is about the First World War. Following a host of colourful characters from differing social backgrounds and four different countries; Britain, Germany, Russia and America, ensures an interesting and informative read.
I found this book particularly interesting because my knowledge of how the First World War actually started was limited. Put simply, it had its makings in Austria-Hungary’s reaction to the assassination of its heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, by a Serbian nationalist secret society.
When Serbia, who were supported by Russia, rejected Austria-Hungary’s demand to participate in the investigation and trial of the assassins, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Germany backed Austria-Hungary and Britain came into the war when Germany marched through Belgium to get to France.
Well worth reading, particularly, if you are interested in history.
The Moment by Douglas Kennedy
It took me quite some time to get into this book, but when I did, I couldn’t put it down. Set largely in West Berlin during the early 1980s, it is essentially a compelling love story, but also one of espionage during the dark days of the Cold War. The stark differences in the lives of those people living in West Berlin compared to those living on the other side of the Wall in the communist Eastern Bloc is a stark reminder of the hardships and dangers these people faced as well as the lengths they went to in order to survive.
by Margaret Leroy
Set in Guernsey, during Germany’s occupation of the Channel Islands in WWII, this story has many facets. Not only is it a story of romance, but one of survival for those islanders who chose not to leave, and those brought to Guernsey as prisoners of the Third Reich. The flora and fauna of the island is described beautifully by the author as is the isolation experience by all. This, together with great characters, and a sprinkling of suspense makes for a good read.
| No Angel|
by Penny Vincenzi
The first book in a trilogy, No Angel, opens in 1904 London and follows the lives of the, upper middle class, Lytton family. Largely set around their publishing house, it has a bit of everything. Love, infidelity, drama, tragedy, as well as history.
The main character is Lady Celia Lytton. She’s a selfish, disillusioned woman and rather wanting in the parenting department; there were times I wanted to shake some sense into her. Nevertheless, I did feel a certain empathy for her situation and admired her determination to follow her dream to work in publishing at a time when women’s main purpose in life was expected to be support for their husband’s career, producing an heir, social pursuits and good works. There are many other characters, of course, and equally interesting.
I see that some have described it as a soap opera, and I suppose, in a way, it is. But a good one! Anyway, if you are looking for a book that will sweep you back into the past, and at times keep you on the edge of your seat, I think you will enjoy reading, No Angel. I enjoyed reading it and plan to read the second book in the trilogy.(less)
One Man's Empire
by Geoffrey Bird
One Man’s Empire is a delightful read with a swift pace and surprises around each corner. Set in the late 18th century at the height of the British Empire’s rule, the story takes you to what was then known as Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). We follow John Butler, who, after inheriting his father’s coffee plantation finds he is unable to sell for a stipulated time period and so is forced to take over its management. But before Butler has time to swallow this bitter pill, a storm destroys every. All that is left is a small tea bush still growing under the debris. In debt and unable to afford the fare back to England, Butler sees the tea bush as his only hope for the future. So begins his struggle to make a success of his inheritance. He is not aware, however, of the obstacles he will have to overcome, the least of which, his neighbour, William Paget who is out for Butler’s ruin. Undaunted, John Butler carries on and builds his empire, changing the face of Ceylon.
by Susanna Kearsley
I became totally absorbed reading The Winter Sea. Set in north-east Scotland, it tells the story of Carrie McClelland, an author who starts writing a historical romance using her ancestor, Sophia McClelland and the exiled King James of Scotland as its background. The reader is swept back in time to 1708, at the height of James’s attempt to regain his crown from England, and Sophia’s entanglement in this affair.
Carrie, settles into her rented cottage in the historic village of Cruden Bay where she finds herself surrounded by images of the past, not the least of which is Slains Castle, in 1708, a Jacobite stronghold, and the focal point in her book. It’s not long, however, before the character in Carrie’s story start to take over her writing with surprising results.
If you enjoy reading history mixed with fiction and a smattering of romance as well as mystery, you will not be disappointed.
by Anna Mullins
Confessions of a Crazy Fox, is a memoir by Anna Mullins about her life in Texas. Anna displays her writing talent by giving the reader a real sense of life in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. She also touches on the lives of her grandparents who had migrated to the United States to escape religious persecution in Europe during the late 18th and early 20th centuries. This together with a most honest account of the trials and tribulations of family life, Confessions Of A Crazy Fox, is a compelling read.