Outstanding Read of the Year
That book was Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child and coincidentally, just today our Scottish friend over at TheOnlyWayIsReading wrote a magnificent review, especially poignant for male readers. Inspired by a Russian fairytale of an older childless couple who cut family ties and move to the Alaska wilderness, it is a journey of navigating the internal elements and external forces in life, where love, hope and the imagination are equally necessary for survival as the more practical resources.
The year started on a high note and I’ll never forget New Year’s Day 2012 gripped by the powerful and realistic storytelling of Abraham Verghese, in his epic Cutting for Stone, absolutely brilliant.
Eden’s Garden is a wonderfully inspired novel set in Cornwall and Wales, following the lives of two women a decade apart, Carys returns to her hometown in Wales to take care of her mother and becomes drawn towards the garden and statues of Plas Eden and a man from her past, while Ann in Victorian London, is at a turning point in her life, destitute, far from her aristocratic past.
Prodigal Summer was a fantastic and hot summer read, I can’t believe this book sat on my shelf for years and circumnavigated the globe with me before I finally turned its pages.
In the Shadow of the Banyan, is a fictionalised account of a period in the life of Vaddey Ratner, difficult childhood years in Cambodia under a tyrannical regime, losing members of her family, she recalls them in this heart-breaking but uplifting story which pays tribute to those who never made it and shows tremendous compassion in doing so.
Rebecca was my classic treat of the year, thanks to Joanne at The Book Jotter who sent me a copy as part of World Book Night, this has to be the most compelling, page turning classic I have read and I look forward to following it up with watching the Hitchcock film sometime soon.
Red Dust Road crossed my path after reading a captivating interview about the poet Jackie Kay in The Guardian, inspiring me to read this memoir about the discovery of her birth parents, who could not have been more different from the liberal, Scottish open-hearted parents she was raised by. A fabulous story, so eloquently shared and a joy to learn that it has made the World Book Night list for the UK in 2013.
The Black Count was a surprise read, as I prefer historical accounts fictionalised, they tend to be more compelling and the learning aspect easier to remember than non-fiction accounts, however Tom Reiss keeps the reader interested and has written an excellent account of the revolutionary hero, General Alex Dumas – the son of a San Domingan(Haitian) slave and French nobleman. Sold into slavery himself by his father, he eventually makes it to France and rises to become a General in the French revolution, a contemporary of Bonaparte (though no friend of his), his story inspiring his son to write countless novels, including The Count of Monte Cristo.
When Women Were Birds – Fifty Four Variations on Voice was my introduction to the work of Terry Tempest Williams, recommended by Cassie (whose review was so great, it prompted a response by the author), and gifted to me by my best book buddy and very dear friend CKC. The author is 54, the age her mother was when she passed away and left her daughter her journals. In this book, Tempest writes 54 short vignettes, trying to understand the enigma of that maternal gesture.
If This Is A Man: A Truce – it seems appropriate to finish with this book, recommended by our Scottish friend who has just finished The Snow Child, he wrote a moving review, that left me with no other choice than to get hold of this book and read this all important humane work by Primo Levi, writing of that inhumane experience, a concentration camp and leaving us with much to think about.
There were so many memorable others, La Petite Fille de Monsieur Linh, my first read of an adult book in French; Murakami’s trilogy 1Q84, the Titanic anniversary books, my late discovery of the joys of John Steinbeck and Ray Bradbury, the tribute to Edith Wharton’s 150th anniversary with Ethan Frome and Summer, a couple more from firm favourites Susan Hill and Irène Némirovsky.
And for you? What books stood out for you in