Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Fires Of Autumn by Irene Nemirovsky

Dear Reader,

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The Fires Of Autumn was written in the last two years of Irene Nemirovsky's life, after she fled Paris in 1940. The prequel to her masterpiece, Suite Francaise, it is a panoramic exploration of French life and a witness to the greatest horrors of the twentieth century. 
After four years of bloody warfare Bernard Jacquelain returns from the trenches a changed man. No more the naive hopes and dreams of the teenager who went to war. Attracted by the lure of money and success, Bernard embarks on a life of luxuriant delinquency supported by suspect financial dealings and easy virtue. Yet when his lover throws him off, he turns to a wholesome childhood friend for comfort. For ten  years he lives the good bourgeois life, but as another war threatens everything, Bernard has clung to, starts to crumble and the future for his marriage and for France looks terribly uncertain.
First published posthumously in France in 1957, The Fires Of Autumn is a coruscating tragic evocation of the reality of war and its dirty aftermath, and the ugly colour it can turn a man's soul.

MY REVIEW: 

This novel as translated by Sandra Smith opens in 1912 with an introduction to  Parisian family life, small shops and modest apartments. We are introduced to a wider cast of characters as the novel progresses.
Bernard Jacquelain, is the main protagonist. Initally an eager volunteer, he returns home in 1918, broken and somewhat cynical. His childhood acquaintance Martial, a doctor, who was serving behind the front lines has been killed leaving behind his wife, Therese. Therese realises that she has always loved Bernard. Their romance is frequently disrupted by events. We move through the bloody realities of Flanders battlefields and finally to a post-war world  of greedy characters who manipulate the international markets.

This is a beautifully descriptive and captivating novel. Really enjoyed it.

Enjoy!

Kind regards,
Ailish 

Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson

Dear Reader,

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Memories define us.
So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?
Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight.
And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.
Welcome to Christine's life.

MY REVIEW:

Wow what a great book! Before I Go To Sleep is the debut novel from S.J. Watson. This is one of my favorite books from 2011.  Most of the story is structured as a diary recounting daily events. Every morning Christine Lucas awakes with no idea of who she is, where she is, and who the man is sleeping beside her. She suffered a terrible attack eighteen years ago that has left her unable to retain memories. However, with the help of a doctor who specializes in memory disorders, Christine begins to keep a journal that helps her piece together her past and how she ended up the way she has. Before  I Go To Sleep is a thriller that will leave you guessing until the final page. A really entertaining read!


Enjoy!

Kind regards,
Ailish




American Wife By Curtis Sittenfeld

Dear Reader,


BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice Lindgren has no idea that she will one day end up in the White House, married to the President. In her small Wisconsin hometown, she learns the virtues of politeness, but a tragic accident when she is seventeen shatters her identity and changes the trajectory of her life. More than a decade later, when the charismatic son of a powerful Republican family sweeps her off her feet, she is surprised to find herself admitted into a world of privilege. And when her husband unexpectedly becomes Governor and then President, she discovers that she is married to a man she both loves and fundamentally disagrees with - and that her private beliefs increasingly run against her public persona. As her husband's Presidency enters its second term, Alice must confront contradictions years in the making and face questions nearly impossible to answer.


MY REVIEW:

This is Curtis Sittenfeld's third novel which is based on a fictionalized portrait of the former First Lady, Laura Bush whom she calls Alice Blackwell and is easily one of the best books written in 2008. It is honest, wonderful and very smart with a twist. It is not easy to write fiction based on current events but she does it effortlessly. I must admit that I was fascinated by this complex maternal figure so this was a must read!

The book charts Alice's journey from childhood, her growing-up experiences, her family and life as a single woman, her courtships, her experience with the Blackwell family, and her relationship with her husband, the future President.

Alice Lindgren  is intelligent, thoughtful, inclined to be reserved and a lover of books and libraries. As a girl of seventeen she accidentally caused the death of a high-school classmate, a boy, to whom she was attracted, by running a stop sign at a darkened rural intersection and crashing in to his car. Alice, like her real-life model Laura Bush, who had a similar accident as a girl of seventeen in 1963 in her hometown, Midland, Tex, is not charged but Sittenfeld makes this incident the defining moment of Alice's life which is motivated by guilt and loss including the humiliating sexual relationship she begins with the dead boy's brother after his death. This results in a pregnancy that Alice's grandmother helps her to end. More than forty years later, the doctor who performed the abortion attempts to blackmail Alice in publicly opposing her husband's nomination of a conservative Supreme Court Judge.

She is an idealistic grammar-school librarian of 31 when she is introduced to Charlie Blackwell and finds herself courted by him. She is initially  overwhelmed by the crude and overbearing wealthy Blackwell clan in to which it seems her destiny to marry.

American Wife is most engaging in its early chapters, when Alice Lindgren is not yet Alice Blackwell but an insecure young woman haunted by the memory of the boy she accidentally killed as a girl yet dedicated to teaching and to a life defined by books.

Really enjoyed it

Kind regards,
Ailish









Monday, 9 February 2015

How To Win A Guy In 10 Dates By Jane Linfoot

Dear Reader,


I finally got around to reading How To Win A Guy In 10 Dates. I'd like to thank the lovely Jane Linfoot for sending me a copy to read and review!


BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Take Millie: a fun, independent dance teacher starting over, whose burlesque classes are all about self-esteem and empowerment. Her new life plan definitely doesn't stretch to bad boys.
And Ed: he’s gorgeous, designs firework displays for a living and positively self-destructs at the thought of commitment. But he’s embarking on the impossible – a challenge to have ten dates with one woman.
When Millie literally lands in Ed’s lap after an accident, she’s an unlikely choice for the ten date challenge – scruffy, opinionated and then there’s the small matter of that tattoo snaking out of her boot – but he’s running out of options, and more importantly, she owes him.
She’s so not his type, he’s so not in her life-plan, but a weekend in sunny Provence changes everything. Against a backdrop of starry skies and lavender fields, they both have issues they want to leave behind. Secrets have a way of escaping though… is ten dates too long to keep the truth under wraps?




MY REVIEW:


Ed our hero is a typical 'billionaire' who goes through women so quickly that he does not even remember their names (lovely!) So his sister, Cassie, has had enough of this carry on and decides to give him a dating challenge - ten dates with one woman and he can't tell her how rich he is.
 Then we have Millie, our damsel in distress, who while riding one of her horses through an explosive zone gets thrown off and is injured, enter Ed who owns the company and whisks her off to hospital. He sees this as an opportunity but Millie knocks him down. We learn that both Ed and Millie have secrets to hide and it turns out that they are more alike than they originally thought.What follows is a romantic comedy that is definitely a page turner.


A fun light read the perfect book to bring on your holidays!




Enjoy!


Kind regards,
Ailish

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Never Too Late by Christina Courtenay

Dear Reader,

This was my first Christina Courtenay novella and it won't be my last. I came across this through the fabulous team at ChocLit UK via twitter!

This Regency novella has a bit of everything. We have a likeable hero and a damsel in distress. 

The damsel in distress is Maude who about eight years ago was to elope with our likeable hero, Luke, but certain people vied to keep them apart. So Maude ended up marrying his cousin instead. 

When Maude ends up widowed, Luke becomes the new head of her estate. He keeps her on as his housekeeper but he secretly still desires her but is still a bit miffed over her having married his cousin without knowing the true reason. Maude desires him too, but of course is afraid to say so. But Maude and Luke may have to stop tip toeing around each other and tell each other their true feelings because (this is where is gets good!) someone wants them dead. We have arsenic poisoning, smashing pots, run away carriages, and kidnapping. 

I won't give too much away but this is  beautifully written and once you start reading is very hard to put down. Romance with a little action thrown in for good measure. Could not recommend it highly enough.  

Enjoy!

Kind regards,
Ailish