What more pleasant pastime is there on a winters' afternoon, when it is cold, grey and raining, than to light the fire, make yourself a steaming mug of tea, snuggle yourself into your favourite armchair and read a book.
Laura at A Circle of Pines is featuring 'A Year of Books' on her blog which I shall be linking this post to. When there is plenty to do out of doors in the summer months I read maybe a couple of books a month, but during the winter I get through at least one a week ~ so far this year I have read seven. One or two are books I have read previously from my own shelves, others were Christmas gifts ~ I move from fiction to factual, dependant on my mood and often have three on the go at any one time. I love to lose myself in the world of someone else's imagination, and if it is beautifully written with exquisite descriptions, so much the better.
My first choice at the beginning of the year was
Two sisters, one life-changing journey...There are some currents in the relationship between sisters that run so dark and so deep, it's better for the people swimming on the surface never to know what's beneath ...Katie's carefully structured world is shattered by the news that her headstrong younger sister, Mia, has been found dead in Bali - and the police claim it was suicide. With only the entries of Mia's travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister's life, and - page by page, country by country - begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death. What she discovers changes everything. But will her search for the truth push their sisterly bond - and Katie - to breaking point? The Sea Sisters is a compelling story of the enduring connection between sisters.
Bellman & Black is a heart-thumpingly perfect ghost story, beautifully and irresistibly written, its ratcheting tension exquisitely calibrated line by line. Its hero is William Bellman, who, as a boy of 11, killed a shiny black rook with a catapult, and who grew up to be someone, his neighbours think, who "could go to the good or the bad." And indeed, although William Bellman's life at first seems blessed—he has a happy marriage to a beautiful woman, becomes father to a brood of bright, strong children, and thrives in business—one by one, people around him die. And at each funeral, he is startled to see a strange man in black, smiling at him. At first, the dead are distant relatives, but eventually his own children die, and then his wife, leaving behind only one child, his favourite, Dora. Unhinged by grief, William gets drunk and stumbles to his wife's fresh grave—and who should be there waiting, but the smiling stranger in black. The stranger has a proposition for William—a mysterious business called "Bellman & Black"
From my bookshelves ~ As It Was by Helen Thomas, Simply Imperfect by Robyn Griggs Lawrence, A Moment of War by Laurie Lee, I Can't Stay Long by Laurie Lee which is a series of essays. I love his work. Here is the description of when his daughter was born from the essay 'The Firstborn'
She was born in the autumn and was a late fall in my life, and lay purple and dented like a little bruised plum, as though she'd been lightly trodden in the grass and forgotten. Then the nurse lifted her up and she came suddenly alive, her bent legs kicking crabwise, and her first living gesture was a thin wringing of the hands accompanied by a far-out Hebridean lament.
How good is that!
Finally, I have just finished reading
Fleeing war-torn London in 1941, gardener Gwen Davis leaves the "wild, lovely clutter" of the city for the safe haven of the English countryside. Unwilling to watch her beloved city crumble under the assault of incendiary German bombs, she accepts a position at a requisitioned estate in Devon, supervising the farming of potatoes for the war effort.
A 35-year old spinster with a wicked wit and a fondness for literature, Gwen arrives at her new post to find that the group of "Land Girls" she's to supervise have little interest in planting. They're far more eager to cultivate the human crop -- a regiment of Canadian soldiers stationed at the estate, awaiting their assignment. Allying herself with the Canadians' commanding officer, Gwen strategically wins the girls' cooperation by agreeing to a series of evening dances at which they may mix with the soldiers. Pleased to again be in control of her environment, Gwen makes two life-changing discoveries. The first is the existence of feelings she's never before allowed herself to experience. The second is a hidden, abandoned garden on the estate, the secrets of which Gwen is compelled to unlock.
With poignant, poetic mastery of her craft, Helen Humphreys has produced a smart, no-nonsense, and utterly sympathetic character in Gwen Davis. And as her affecting story unfolds and she plumbs the mysteries of gardening, readers too will explore the depths of the soil in which grow the tender shoots of love
I am looking forward to joining in with A Year of Books and finding out just what floats everyone else's boat.
The next book from the top of the pile will be The Husbands Secret by Liane Moriarty
Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret - something so terrible it would destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick achieved it all - she's an incredibly successful business woman, a pillar of her small community and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia - or each other - but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband's devastating secret.