My 5 Favourite October Reads

My 5 Favourite October Reads

Of the 14 books I read in October, here are my five favourite (in no particular order). It was a hard choice as this has been a month of super books. Click on the book title to read my review.

TheBookofForgottenAuthorsThe Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler

Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead. So begins Christopher Fowler’s foray into the back catalogues and back stories of 99 authors who, once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from shelves. We are fondly introduced to each potential rediscovery: from lost Victorian voices to the twentieth century writers who could well become the next John Williams, Hans Fallada or Lionel Davidson. Whether male or female, flash-in-the-pan or prolific, mega-seller or prize-winner – no author, it seems, can ever be fully immune from the fate of being forgotten. These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favourites: including the now-vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, and the women who introduced psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world. This is a book about books and their authors. It is for book lovers, and is written by one who could not be a more enthusiastic, enlightening and entertaining guide.

My Verdict: The perfect gift for bibliophiles – like browsing the shelves of the best secondhand bookshop in the world. You’ll be surprised by some of the names included and intrigued by others. All conveyed in the author’s witty and sometimes acerbic style.

TheCrowsofBearaThe Crows of Beara by Julie Christine Johnson

When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life. Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara Peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine. Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice–a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind. Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people.

My Verdict: This was a blog tour find thanks to Amy at HF Virtual Book Tours. I was really drawn into the story of Annie and Daniel, two damaged individuals seeking redemption and renewal.

WomanEntersLeftWoman Enters Left by Jessica Brockmole

In the 1950s, movie star Louise Wilde is caught between an unfulfilling acting career and a shaky marriage when she receives an out-of-the-blue phone call: She has inherited the estate of Florence “Florrie” Daniels, a Hollywood screenwriter she barely recalls meeting. Among Florrie’s possessions are several unproduced screenplays, personal journals, and—inexplicably—old photographs of Louise’s mother, Ethel. On an impulse, Louise leaves a film shoot in Las Vegas and sets off for her father’s house on the East Coast, hoping for answers about the curious inheritance and, perhaps, about her own troubled marriage.

Nearly thirty years earlier, Florrie takes off on an adventure of her own, driving her Model T westward from New Jersey in pursuit of broader horizons. She has the promise of a Hollywood job and, in the passenger seat, Ethel, her best friend since childhood. Florrie will do anything for Ethel, who is desperate to reach Nevada in time to reconcile with her husband and reunite with her daughter. Ethel fears the loss of her marriage; Florrie, with long-held secrets confided only in her journal, fears its survival.

In parallel tales, the three women—Louise, Florrie, Ethel—discover that not all journeys follow a map. As they rediscover their carefree selves on the road, they learn that sometimes the paths we follow are shaped more by our traveling companions than by our destinations.

My Verdict: I sometimes have a problem with dual time narratives, often finding the story set in the past more engaging than the one set in the present. No problem here, because both story lines are set in the past, they’re equally compelling and there’s a touch of Hollywood glamour running through the whole thing. A really entertaining read (and another HF Virtual Book Tours find).

HomeisNearby1Home Is Nearby by Magdalena McGuire

1980: The beginning of the polish crisis. Brought up in a small village, country-girl Ania arrives in the university city of Wroclaw to pursue her career as a sculptor. Here she falls in love with Dominik, an enigmatic write at the center of a group of bohemians and avant-garde artists who throw wild parties. When martial law is declared, their lives change overnight: military tanks appear on the street, curfews are introduced and the artists are driven underground. Together, Ania and Dominik fight back, pushing against the boundaries imposed by the authoritarian communist government. But at what cost?

My Verdict: A fantastic debut novel that explores the role of art in responding to political events, features a great cast of believable characters and provides an insight into Polish culture and customs.

Mr Dickens and His CarolMr Dickens and His Carol by Samatha Silva

Charles Dickens should be looking forward to Christmas. But when his latest book, Martin Chuzzlewit, is a flop, his publishers give him an ultimatum. Either he writes a Christmas book in a month or they will call in his debts and he could lose everything. Dickens has no choice but to grudgingly accept…

My Verdict: Another assured debut novel that I described as a love letter to Charles Dickens’ most well-known and best loved book, A Christmas Carol. Utterly charming.

 

What were your favourite reads last month?

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