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The Corset by Laura Purcell: Feminist Historical Fiction with a Magical Realism Twist

Rating: 3.5 stars

Genre: Historical fiction

Summary: Dorothea has enough of her own worries – trying to continue her studies of phrenology under the disapproving eye of her father, dodging her simpering stepmother-to-be at society balls, and dissuading men with matrimonial hopes. Yet when visiting a woman’s prison on charitable errands, she feels drawn to the tragic story of Ruth Butterham, a maid and seamstress condemned to death for the murder of her mistress.

Ruth is an enigma, a girl of only sixteen who has already endured a lifetime of suffering. Always refusing to become a victim, this young prisoner holds onto a burning core of vengefulness that allures and repels Dorothea in equal measure. Is Ruth guilty, or is her confession the product of her own disturbing delusions? Continue reading The Corset by Laura Purcell: Feminist Historical Fiction with a Magical Realism Twist

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson Book Cover Image

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson: Quirky Lesbian Coming-of-Age Tale

Rating: 3 stars

Genre: Literary, Semi-autobiographical

Summary: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a semi-autobiographical bildungsroman novel that draws upon the author’s own childhood and life experiences. In a small Northern town in the 1950s and 60s, Jeanette is being raised by her formidable mother as a good Christian girl who dreams of becoming a missionary.
However, after falling in love with one of her female converts, Jeanette embarks on a series of lesbian love affairs that will force her to confront the darker sides of her community. Determined not to choose between her love of women and her calling as a preacher, she must fight to retain her identity, sexuality, and faith intact. Continue reading Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson: Quirky Lesbian Coming-of-Age Tale

The Confession by Jessie Burton Book Cover Image

The Confession by Jessie Burton: Emotive Literary Drama

Rating: 4 stars

Category: Literary fiction

Summary: In 1980, Elise follows her lover Connie from London to LA, where Connie’s novel is being adapted into a major film. Their stormy love affair will leave its mark on the city.
Three decades later, Rose is on the trail of the mother who left when she was a baby. The only clue she has is a book by elusive novelist Constance Holden, who may hold the key to why her mother left everything behind. Continue reading The Confession by Jessie Burton: Emotive Literary Drama

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell: Thriller-Edition Escapism

Rating: 3 stars

Category: Thriller

Summary: When Libby inherits a mansion from the biological parents she never knew, it offers life-changing possibilities and the ticket out of her dead-end job. However, this once-lavish house holds the story of Libby’s first months of life, and she can’t sell until the truth is uncovered.

A newspaper article records how the house became infamous decades ago, when three adults were found dead in what was suspected to be a cult-related suicide pact. Concerned locals reported children living there too, but their identities were unknown and no trace of them remained. These missing children could be the only family Libby has ever known: the question is whether they want to be found. Continue reading The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell: Thriller-Edition Escapism

My Top 10 Books of 2020!

Well, 2020 has been a year I think most of us would rather forget! I hope you and your loved ones are all safe and well. In the midst of the chaos, we’ve all come to appreciate books even more, with their reassuring constancy and the opportunity they provide to escape reality for a bit. 

So without further ado, in no particular order (because I am extremely indecisive!) here are the top 10 books that helped me survive 2020… Continue reading My Top 10 Books of 2020!

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe: Classic Breaking Eighteenth-Century Moulds

Rating: 3 stars
Category: Classics
Synopsis:

“I am giving an account of what was, not of what ought or ought not to be.”

If she’s to get on in the world, Moll Flanders must rely only on her own wit, toughness and experience. And, as one misfortune after another is thrown her way, that’s precisely what she intends to do… Continue reading Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe: Classic Breaking Eighteenth-Century Moulds

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The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer: Achingly Poignant Mental Illness Portrayal

Rating: 4.5 stars

Category: Literary fiction

Synopsis: The Shock of the Fall begins with nine-year-old Matthew experiencing a tragedy which he cannot tell us about. It’s just too painful. For the rest of the story, we follow him through the years of childhood, adolescence and into his first grimy flat and minimum-wage job.

All the while, Matthew’s grasp of reality fragments as he struggles to come to terms with what happened that fateful night on the coast. Continue reading The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer: Achingly Poignant Mental Illness Portrayal

The Last Man by Mary Shelley Book Cover Image

The Last Man by Mary Shelley: Bleakly Imaginative Dystopian

Rating: 2.5 stars

Category: Classics, Dystopian

Synopsis: In an England of the future, Lionel Verney is a poor shepherd boy when he is befriended by Adrian, Earl of Windsor and Raymond, a favoured candidate for the Lord Protectorship – the pinnacle of political achievement.

Lionel is soon moving in the same circles as the most powerful, wealthy and intellectual men in the world. Yet this Romantic paradise of virtue and conversation is under threat when a plague begins to decimate the world’s population, and Lionel is helpless to protect all that he has come to treasure of life’s riches. Continue reading The Last Man by Mary Shelley: Bleakly Imaginative Dystopian

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A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes: Rich and Ambitious Retelling

Rating: 4.5 stars

Category: Literary fiction, retellings

Synopsis: “Sing, Muse, he said, and I have sung … I have sung of the women, the women in the shadows. I have sung of the forgotten, the ignored, the untold.”

The names of the Trojan war heroes echo down the centuries – Achilles, Odysseus, Agamemnon – while the women drawn into its devastation remain a footnote in all these songs and stories.

In A Thousand Ships, Natalie Haynes attempts to imagine, not one, but many voices for these women. From the most powerful goddess to the lowliest priest girl that serves her, each is irrevocably changed by the men’s war, each has a story. And that story deserves to be told. Continue reading A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes: Rich and Ambitious Retelling

Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith Book Cover Image

Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith: Crime Fiction With Character

Rating: 3.5 stars

Category: Crime fiction

Synopsis: Victor Van Allen is proud of the ordered life he has created for himself. He runs a sought-after printing press, holds a respected position in the town, and is the father of a precocious little girl.

The only taint to this perfect facade is his wife, Melinda. Their relationship is tenuously held together by Vic sleeping in a separate room and pretending to ignore her involvements with other men. Yet a new arrival in the sleepy town of Little Wesley means Vic may not be able to look the other way for much longer… Continue reading Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith: Crime Fiction With Character