Sunday, 24 September 2017

Book Review - Nondula by Ana Salote

You know that sinking feeling when you open up the sequel to a much loved book? The worry that it won't be as good and will spoil your memories of the first? Fear not! Nondula is as magical as Oy Yew and will transport you back into the wonderful world of Oy and his friends.

The waifs have escaped from Duldred and appear to have found a wonderful home. But all is not as it seems and soon they are battling once again to find peace and happiness. Linnet is fading away and Oy must find a way to save her. He ends up captured by the Felluns and must try to escape; Gritty heads off to rescue him and discovers her own talents; Alas refuses to conform and faces his own battles; Gertie finds her place in the world and a new friend.

The writing is wonderful and a world is conjured up that is both inviting and scary. Ana Salote has a real talent for world building and you can taste, touch and smell everything so vividly - smell is particularly important in Nondula! The characters again shine out from the page and take the reader on a journey through a magical world which involves friendship, courage and self knowledge. I can hardly wait for the final part of the trilogy, even though I will be really sad to say goodbye to these wonderful characters.

Book Review - Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon

This is a mammoth book and took me quite a while to read. However I'm glad I persevered as it was both enlightening and interesting. As a long time devotee of Shelley I knew some of the aspects of Mary Shelley's life but I learned more about her as a writer from this biography. Mary Wollstonecraft was a revelation to me and the fact that her reputation had been tarnished until the 1970s came as a real shock.

Both women were formidable intellectuals, writing about women's rights and issues long before it became acceptable to do so. Both fell victim to the moral climate in which they lived and both 'sacrificed' much to be with the men they loved. Those men also did not always treat them well and neither Shelly nor Godwin come out of this book particularly well.

Once I had finished I felt I knew both women and was stunned by the parallels in their lives. I now need to read some of their works, Frankenstein apart, and try to really understand what they were saying about society and its treatment of women in the late 18th early 19th centuries. I recommend this book wholeheartedly, even if it is more of a marathon than a sprint to read.

Book Review - The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

As a long time Agatha Christie fan I was surprised that I hadn't come across this book before. But I'm certainly glad I've finally read it as it is a corking story told at a breathless pace.

Anne Beddingfield is a great heroine and I'm sorry that she only has this one story to star in. She is feisty, impulsive and brave - quite a contrast to Miss Marple who comes later. In fact, although it is probably heresy to say it, I preferred her to Marple!

The story is part detective, part adventure and it races across England and Africa as Anne tries to find out who murdered the man in the brown suit whose death she witnesses at a Tube station. There are some gloriously villainous characters and a dashing hero to give her the, in my opinion, rather soppy happy ending but despite that I loved the story and especially Anne. She'd be such fun to hang out with, if only I could keep up with her!

Book Review - The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

I wanted to love this book but didn't quite fall in love with it. The writing and description is wonderful - I felt damp and chilly at times as Cora and William strode around the Essex marshes. The characters are beautifully drawn and engaging. And yet ...

Something didn't grab me and I'm not sure why. I found the ending to be most unsatisfactory - it felt unresolved somehow. I wanted more of the children's story, the magic they conjured up was interesting but never developed.

I think most of all I wanted a happy ending for William and Cora and I didn't feel I got it. But I will look out for more by this author.