An Ode to Love or a Dear John?

Now that I have taken the bold step to create a blog, I guess it should come as no surprise that I am subsequently contacted out of the blue by a new author who has asked me to review her book, ‘Seven Days to Tell You’ due for publication on June 1st 2011.  So here it is and thanks again Ruby.

‘Seven Days to Tell You’ could be renamed ‘Seven Days to Figure It Out’ except that it is sure to take less than seven days to read because once you start, this book has a way of hooking you in and stirring your curiosity in an unputdownable kind of way.  It shifts and changes in time and point of view, keeping you wondering and guessing through its many twists and turns.

 Ruby Soames first novel succeeded the vote of bookclub readers whose opinion influences which novels are chosen for publication by Hookline Books and I can see why this riveting, page turning novel was enjoyed by so many and undoubtedly hotly discussed.

Kate is a paediatric doctor not given to wild, spontaneous acts, so surprises some and generates envy in others when she marries the wild, charming and mysterious Marc, a Frenchman she meets during a brief encounter at the end of an otherwise disappointing holiday.  She appears to have proven the doubters wrong, until one day three years into their marriage, Marc disappears without trace.

After three fruitless years searching for him, Kate is beginning to rebuild her life when she wakes one morning to find the familiar form of her errant husband in bed beside her.  He asks for seven days to prove his love, seven days to spend together before she makes her inevitable decision.

Soames doesn’t give anything away and is adept in her use of the unusual second person viewpoint in much of the narrative, which makes reading her story a little like reading a private letter or prying into someone’s journal; it’s not written to you the reader, it addresses Marc and like eavesdropping on a conversation, you find yourself trying to fill in the gaps to figure out what’s not being said.  It is only through the more reliable interactions with other characters that the truth begins to emerge. 

Often unpredictable, you will want to discuss this book and the relationship it describes with your friends, the intrigue it arouses continues long after the last page is turned.

Josephine Bonaparte’s Miraculous Life & Words from a Pioneer Woman

Joesphine Bonaparte

Historical fiction doesn’t usually sit on my reading pile, but ‘word of mouth’ great books certainly do and it is due to the latter that I found myself recently devouring not just one but two historical fiction trilogies.

‘These is My Words’ is inspired by author Nancy Turner’s family memoirs of her great grandmother Sarah Prine, an astonishing, wilful and unforgettable pioneering woman who seeks a living in the harsh, untamed lands of the Arizona Territory circa late 1800’s.  She encounters love too briefly and loss too often, wrestles against nature’s wrath and must deal with unpredictable neighbours.  From the oral tales of her great-grandmother Turner has created three volumes which recount the trials and triumphs of Sarah Prine’s memorable life, reminding us of the oft forgotten dreams, challenges and incredible tales of survival of those who came before us.

So ‘Sarah Prine’ is finished but the experience of one courageous woman left a taste for more, so after reading a chance review we (my book buddy and I) decide on the Josephine B trilogy.  Here was a chance to read about a significant period in French history through the eyes of a woman I knew little about – and what an exceptional woman and colourful life to discover.

From humble island roots growing up on a plantation in Martinique, more familiar with village superstition than the courts and noble families of Paris; it is only the forbidden predictions of a Voodoo witchdoctor that hint at the majestic life that awaits Rose Tacher (Josephine Bonaparte).

Written as a collection of journal entries, Sandra Gulland has created a series that sweeps you through the late 1700’s and early 1800’s of Republican and Monarchist France as opinion and favourability flip flop between the two, and it appears as though no one can make up their mind whether indeed it will be a Republic, an Empire or a combination of both.

Each book is as good as, if not better than its precedent and the astonishing amount of research that went into the series and the compassion with which Gulland handles her characters leaves them well etched in your mind.

These is My Words, Sarah’s Quilt, A Star Garden by Nancy E Turner

The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B, Tales of Passion- Tales of Woe, The Last Great Dance on Earth by Sandra Gulland