I was a reading machine in March managing to get through 17 books, with a number of five-star reads and a lot of other great books vying for a place on this list. Click on the book title to read my full review.
First up we have Entanglement by Katy Mahood, published on 22nd March by The Borough Press. Using as inspiration the concept of quantum entanglement – the idea that entangled particles remain connected and that actions performed on one affect the other even when separated by great distances – Entanglement tells the story of two couples whose life journeys overlap, mirror and just occasionally come into brief contact with each other.
It’s an emotional journey – of ups and downs – that is beautifully described and feels absolutely true to life and authentic.
Next is one of the books on the long list for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2018 – The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers – published by Bluemoose Books in May 2017. Set in 1760s Yorkshire, the book is a fictionalised account of the real life exploits of a gang known as the ‘Cragg Vale Coiners’. (‘Coining’ was the illegal practice of removing shavings of gold from the edges of genuine coins, milling the edges of those coins smooth again and then using the shavings to produce counterfeit coins.)
As well as a compelling story, the book is remarkable for its creative use of language. Definitely worthy of its place on the long list.
More historical fiction, this time set in the 1940s and 1950s. Published by Little, Brown in June 2015, Tightrope by Simon Mawer, tells the story of undercover operative, Marian Sutro, returned to England following her release from Ravensbrück concentration camp. The book powerfully portrays the difficulty of readjustment following her terrible ordeal at the hands of the Nazis and her growing sense of concern at the development of atomic weapons.
Part enthralling Cold War spy story, part compelling examination of the impact of war, Tightrope was the deserved winner of The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction in 2016.
My fourth choice is also set in World War 2 – Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce, published by Picador on 5th April. Employed as assistant to the formidable Mrs. Bird, agony aunt of a women’s magazine, Emmy is dismayed to find many letters are discarded because they involve what Mrs. Bird calls ‘unpleasantness’. However, Emmy sees in the letters women struggling to cope with lives disrupted by war.
Dear Mrs. Bird is funny, charming and heart-warming but also gives a real sense of the courage and resilience of those who lived through the Blitz.
Finally there is We Were the Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard, published by Orenda Books in February.
Set in a fishing community on the Gaspé peninsula in eastern Quebec, the book is a crime novel as well as a beautifully written story about an isolated community, a search for answers and about those people who are drawn to the sea.
‘You go to sea because you’re a drifter among others and you only feel at home in the silence of the wind.’
Something for everyone, I think, in this month’s selection.
What were your favourite reads last month? Did any of those above make your list or have a place on your reading list for April?