Tag Archives: Historical

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

The Wonder Emma Donoghue‘The Wonder’ by Emma Donoghue tells the story of Lib Wright, a widowed English nurse who trained under Florence Nightingale during the Crimean war. She is sent to a rural village in Ireland to independently observe Anna O’Donnell, an eleven-year-old girl whose parents claim has not eaten any solid food for four months, subsisting purely on “manna from heaven” and a few teaspoons of water a day. While the community accepts this claim without questioning it and visitors travel from afar to witness the miracle, Lib is immediately sceptical and expects the medical surveillance to be over in a couple of days once the fraud has been exposed. She alternates her shifts with a local nun Sister Michael and considers every possible way food could have been secretly smuggled to Anna. However, as more time passes, Lib starts to doubt her own beliefs and realises that there is more to Anna’s case than meets the eye.
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The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

The Essex Serpent Sarah Perry‘The Essex Serpent’ by Sarah Perry tells the story of Cora Seaborne, a keen amateur naturalist and recent widow who moves to Colchester in the 1890s with her servant-companion Martha and son Francis and meets the local vicar Reverend William Ransome. There are rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent which once stalked the Blackwater estuary has been spotted again near the coastal village of Aldwinter, and some mysterious deaths have sent the local residents into panic. Cora and Will are both sceptical of the rumours surrounding the return of the beast but for very different reasons with Cora believing the creature could be an undiscovered species whereas Will’s concerns lie in his parishioners’ apparent lack of faith. Yet despite these differences, they start to form a close and intense bond. Continue reading

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The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Buried GiantI’ve had mixed views about Kazuo Ishiguro’s novels in the past. I was baffled by ‘Never Let Me Go’ but enjoyed it, I was even more baffled by ‘The Unconsoled‘ and enjoyed it much less. I liked ‘When We Were Orphans’ but thought it wasn’t quite as good as ‘The Remains of the Day’ which I think is a modern classic. My initial thoughts on his latest novel ‘The Buried Giant’ definitely lean more towards bafflement than enjoyment.

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The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

The Paying GuestsI feel very spoilt having two of my favourite authors publish new books this summer. First, ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage‘ by Haruki Murakami and now ‘The Paying Guests’ by Sarah Waters. Set in London shortly after the First World War, unmarried Frances Wray and her widowed mother have fallen on hard times and are forced to rent out rooms at their home in Camberwell. Frances becomes increasingly close to their young and modern “paying guests”, Leonard and Lilian Barbour. However, her relationship with Lilian soon triggers an unexpected and violent chain of events. Continue reading

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Dominion by C. J. Sansom

Dominion‘Dominion’ by C. J. Sansom is an alternate history of what could have happened if Winston Churchill had failed to become Prime Minister in 1940 and Britain had signed a treaty with Germany ending the Second World War. In 1952, David Fitzgerald is a civil servant hiding his Jewish identity and secretly working for the British Resistance movement as a spy.  His mission is to rescue his friend, Frank Muncaster, from a mental hospital before the Gestapo discover his terrible secret which could potentially change the balance of world power. Continue reading

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The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The LuminariesWhilst wondering last month when I was ever going to read ‘The Luminaries’, a thought suddenly occurred to me: what better time to start reading an 800+ page book than the beginning of up to five days of London Underground strikes? I have an eBook copy of Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize-winning epic novel and I tend to use my Kindle when bad weather, industrial action or some other disruption is likely to severely delay my commute to work. An e-reader is easier to hold on a crowded train than a large hardback book and if I get stranded somewhere for a long time and I finish a novel, I have several more to choose from right there and then. Continue reading

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Little Egypt by Lesley Glaister

Little Egypt‘Little Egypt’ by Lesley Glaister tells the story of twin siblings, Isis and Osiris, and their childhood in the 1920s. Living in a large family home called Little Egypt, their eccentric parents, Evelyn and Arthur, set off to search for the fabled tomb of Herihor, leaving the twins in the care of their housekeeper Mary and their uncle Victor. Many decades later, Isis and Osiris are now in their nineties and still living in their derelict house which Isis cannot sell for fear of someone discovering what happened there all those years ago.

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