I picked this straight up after having read People of the Book also by Brooks and having loved it. I then read Year of Wonders in a day as I couldn't...moreI picked this straight up after having read People of the Book also by Brooks and having loved it. I then read Year of Wonders in a day as I couldn't put it down, and was all set to give it 5 stars until the epilogue (more on that later).
This book is based on the true story of the village of Eyam in Derbyshire in 1665 when the Plague arrived in a trunk of fabric sent from London. The Village of 300 or so people took an oath with their Parish Priest not to leave the village, therefore containing the disease and potentially saving thousands of lives. Of the 300 or so villagers in Eyam, within one year over 200 of them were dead. For more than a year, nobody came in and nobody went out. They were left food and supplies in a hole in the wall of the boundary stone up on the hills by kind people from the surrounding villages. The story is told by Anna Frith, an 18 year old widow, who loses her 2 tiny boys to the plague and then goes on to comfort and help other villlgers through this horrible year as their loved ones too succumb to Plague.
Although some of the characters were real people (George Viccars was the tailor who recived the box of fabric and was the first person in the village to die), and Anna's neighbour Mary Hadfield who lost her husband and 3 children also existed. Other characters have been based on real people, for example Brooks' Priest Michael Monpellion was based on the real Vicar William Mompesson but she changed his name as she also changed his character.
Having been to Eyam several times (you can still visit the Plague cottages there) I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it brought to life a time that seems so beyond our comprehension. However, much as I loved it the ending almost sopilt it for me. I don't want to ruin it so I won't say what happens but I found it slightly silly in that it just didn't seem to fit the story at all.
All in all though, a great story of endurance, love and hope in a truly terrible time in history which is made all the more frightening because it actually happened. I would highly recommed this book and I hope you enjoy as much as I did. (less)
After having read the exceptional "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox" I picked this up prepared for another rollocking read. In fairness, it is a very...moreAfter having read the exceptional "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox" I picked this up prepared for another rollocking read. In fairness, it is a very good book and it only took me 2 days to read because, as with Esme Lennox, the chapters are the sort that make you not able to put it down for wanting to know what happens next. However, I must admit that I wasn't suprised to learn that this book was the authors debut.
After You'd Gone packs an emotional punch in terms of grief and loss and as we follow Alice and her family's life (in snippets here and there as Alice lies in hospital in a coma after trying to kill herslef) we try to peice together what made her end up where she did.
Personally I don't think that the author left quite enough to our imagination and the prologue that offers such intrigue in promising that we are, at some point, going to be told exactly what Alice saw at the train station in Edinburgh was so odd and unexpected and sickening that it sent her straight back to London on the next train, was actually a major let down. Apart from the fact, that I had worked it out almost from the first chapter I couldn't quite understand what was so "sickening" about it.
I hope this doesn't come across as too negative as having said all this, I really did enjoy this book. It's one that I am glad I have read but I probably won't pick it up again in the future. (less)
I completely fell in love with this book in the one sitting it took me to read it (because I just couldn't put it down).
This is the story 2 young gir...moreI completely fell in love with this book in the one sitting it took me to read it (because I just couldn't put it down).
This is the story 2 young girls, Kitty and Esme, growing up in the 20's and 30's in first colonial India and then in Edinbugh when their parents move back home. They are sisters who share everything and love each other very much yet one is the dutiful, polite, home-maker type and the the other is the slightly rebellious younger sister who wants to stay on at shcool rather than marry a nice boy. After a series of events (which include trying on her Mothers clothes of all things!) and a shocking incident that happens to her, Esme (the younger sister) is sent to a lunatic assylum and dissowned by her own family and where she remains for the next 61 years.
Inbetween this story told by Esme and also Kitty (whom now has altzheimers) we also flit between the past and the present with Kitty's Grandaugter, Iris, who also narrates her story. The way O'Farrell has woven the 3 women's voices so intricately together to reveal only parts of the story at a time is just amazing and also serves to keep you turning those pages well into the night. The story is so beautiflly told and the twists and surprises mean that you can't possibly put it down even for a minute.
I don't really know what I expected of this book, but I certainly wasn't prepared to be so blown away by it. I have never read anything else by this author, but I certainly will be after this. I really do highly recommend this book and hope you enjoy as mucy as I did.(less)
I'm actually finding myself struggling to write a review on this book as nothing really happens. This is the first Patrick Gale I have read and it may...moreI'm actually finding myself struggling to write a review on this book as nothing really happens. This is the first Patrick Gale I have read and it may just be that I'm not used to his style of story telling but as I read this I felt I was constantly waiting for something to happen and it never really did.
I don't mean to sound too harsh about this book, after all the writing was beautiful and reading throught the other reviews on this book I can see what appealed to some, but to be honest I judge a book on how much I'm looking forward to picking it up again when I'm not reading it and how much I think about the characters and plot. Having said that it did only take me 3 days to read but that was becasue I was off work and I had the time to sit down for long stetches with a book; if I had been at work I do feel I may not have even got to the end of this book without giving up halfway through as I never really felt compelled to keep going back to it.
The story is about Rachel Kelly, an acclaimed artist who settled in Cornwall with her husband and went on to have 4 children but who was also bi-polar. The book dips in and out of hers and her childrens lives at various points spanning about 50 years and we see the effect that having a manically depressed mother has taken its toll on her children. That's basically it.
Much as I always try to give positive reviews and find the good in books, this one has left me abit cold.(less)
I read this book in just over a day, staying up into the night as I couldn't tear myself away from it. It's one of those books where you promise yours...moreI read this book in just over a day, staying up into the night as I couldn't tear myself away from it. It's one of those books where you promise yourself that this will be the last chapter, and then you say just one more....and so on!
This is the story of a young girl who is found naked and frozen to death in one of the worst blizzards the town on Small Plains has ever known. She can't be identified and so she is buried in an unmarked grave in the towns cemetary. Over the years she becomes known as the Virgin of Small Plains and legend has it that she can cure the sick and so people travel from all over to visit her grave. However, on the night of the blizzard, 18 year old Mitch Newquist vanishes without a word to anyone, leaving a Abby his devastated girlfriend and all his friends. After 17 years Mitch arrives back in Small Plains and it seems that not everyone wants him back. Why do so many people in Small Plains want him gone again and what are they hiding about that night in the snow storm 17 years ago?
This is a fantastic page-turner and I highly recommend. I hope you enjoy as much as I did. (less)
I first read this (actually that should say I was first forced to read this) in school over 20 years ago. I hated it. It was disected to within an inc...moreI first read this (actually that should say I was first forced to read this) in school over 20 years ago. I hated it. It was disected to within an inch of its life and I came to dread those lessons with a passion. What a shame that school can manage to put off even the most ardent of readers. Isn't reading supposed to be about enjoyment?
I picked this up a couple of weeks ago out of curiosity and read the first page while standing in the bookshop. Before I knew it I had read the entire first chapter and loved it. There is such humour in Dicken's books that would have been totally wasted on me as a 15 year old.
It took me a few weeks to read (hence the 4 stars as I had to concentrate more than with other books) but I thought it was just wonderful. I remembered so little of the story from the first time around that it was like reading a new book. What a fantastic array of characters I came to know. Just loved it.(less)
I had seen this in book shops for months and had picked it up and put it down again so many times that I finally decided to give it ago based on so ma...moreI had seen this in book shops for months and had picked it up and put it down again so many times that I finally decided to give it ago based on so many positive reviews I had seen. I'm so glad I did. For the 3 days it took me to read it I was immersed in the life of a young German girl during World War 2 and although the book prepares the reader almost from the beginning for what is going to happen I wasn't prepared for the ending to pack such an emotional punch.
The book itself is narrated by Death (not the Grim Reaper image that most of us have, but a figure who roams the world collecting the souls of the newly departed and gently taking them away with him.) Death tells the story of Liesel, a young girl who has been placed with foster parents in a poor part of Munich and we follow her story throughout the war. We are told from the start that most of the characters we meet will die but because we spend so long with them and become so involved in their lives, it doesn't make it any less shocking by the end of the book.
This book is brilliant in the way that it manages to avoid the gory detials of war but involves us in the day to day lives of some of those who lived through it. It is so important that we never forget what happened during that time and that there were so many wonderful, selfless people out there that were prepared to help others.
I highly recommend this book and I'm sure it is one that will stay with me for a long time. (less)