The Secret by Katharine Johnson (paperback, review copy courtesy of the author and Rachel’s Random Resources)
Two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy share a secret that has devastating consequences. Against a backdrop of fear, poverty and confusion during the Second World War, friendship is tested, and loyalties are divided until a chance encounter changes everything.
Their lives diverge when beautiful, daring Martina marries and moves into Villa Leonida, the most prestigious house in their Tuscan mountain village, while plain, studious Irena trains to be a teacher. But neither marriage nor life at Villa Leonida are as Martina imagined. And as other people’s lives take on a new purpose, Irena finds herself left behind.
Decades later, a tragedy at the villa coincides with the discovery of an abandoned baby, whose identity threatens to re-open old wounds among the next generation.
My Sister, Myself by Jill Treseder (ebook, review copy courtesy of Random Things Tours)
Hungary, 1956. Russian tanks brutally crush the revolution against the Communist regime. Sisters Katalin and Marika escape Budapest with their family and settle in London.
However, the past is not so easily left behind. Their father is a wanted man, and the sisters’ relationship hangs in the balance. Their futures are shaped by loss. For Katalin, this means the failure of her ambition and a devastating discovery; for Marika, an equally heart-breaking experience.
Caught between their Hungarian heritage and their new lives in Britain, the sisters struggle to reconnect. Family secrets are exposed, jeopardising Katalin’s and Marika’s identities. Can their relationship survive war, division and grief?
The Salt of the Earth by Jozef Wittlin, trans. Patrick Corness (eARC, NetGalley)
At the beginning of the twentieth century the villagers of the Carpathian mountains lead a simple life, much as they have always done. The modern world has yet to reach the inhabitants of this isolated and remote region of the Habsburg Empire. Among them is Piotr, a bandy-legged peasant, who wants nothing more from life than an official railway cap, a cottage with a mouse-trap and cheese, and a bride with a dowry.
But then the First World War comes to the mountains, and Piotr is drafted into the army. All the weight of imperial authority is used to mould him into an unthinking fighting machine, so that the bewildered peasant can be forced to fight a war as he does not understand, for interests other than his own.
The Salt of the Earth is a classic war novel, a powerful pacifist tale about the consequences of war on ordinary men.
Pre-order The Salt of the Earth from Amazon UK
Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller (ebook, NetGalley)
One rain-swept February night in 1809, an unconscious man is carried into a house in Somerset. He is Captain John Lacroix, home from Britain’s disastrous campaign against Napoleon’s forces in Spain.
Gradually Lacroix recovers his health, but not his peace of mind – he cannot talk about the war or face the memory of what happened in a village on the gruelling retreat to Corunna. After the command comes to return to his regiment, he sets out instead for the Hebrides, with the vague intent of reviving his musical interests and collecting local folksongs.
Lacroix sails north incognito, unaware that he has far worse to fear than being dragged back to the army: a vicious English corporal and a Spanish officer are on his trail, with orders to kill. The haven he finds on a remote island with a family of free-thinkers and the sister he falls for are not safe, at all.
On What Cathy Read Next last week
Monday – An Autumn break in Falmouth, Cornwall saw me give my blog a Cornish theme this week. I published my first list of books set in Cornwall covering historical fiction.
Tuesday – This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic was Bookstores/Libraries I’ve Always Wanted to Visit and in keeping with the Cornish theme, my list included two independent bookshops in Falmouth alongside some books set in libraries or bookshops. The Cornish themed lists continued with crime/mystery novels set in Cornwall.
Wednesday – WWW Wednesday is the opportunity to share what I’ve just finished reading, what I’m reading now and what I’ll be reading next. Contemporary fiction set in Cornwall was the theme of today’s list.
Thursday – My final Cornish themed list was devoted to books by Daphne du Maurier, as no list of books set in Cornwall could be complete without reference to her novels.
Sunday – I published my review of Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson, one of the authors I heard speak at the recent Henley Literary Festival and who I was lucky enough to meet in person afterwards and have sign my copy of her book.
On What Cathy Read Next this week
- Book Review: The Last Thread by Ray Britain
- Book Review: False Lights by K. J. Whittaker
- Blog Tour/Book Review: The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond
- Book Review: A Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton
- Event Review: Anne Youngson and A J Pearce at Henley Literary Festival
- Book Review: Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks
- Event Review: Diane Setterfield ay Henley Literary Festival
- Book Review: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
- Blog Tour/Book Review: The Senator’s Assignment by Joan E Histon
- Buchan of the Month/Book Review: Witch Wood by John Buchan