Title: The Illness Lesson

Author: Clare Beams

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

It is 1871. At the farm of Samuel Hood and his daughter, Caroline, a mysterious flock of red birds has descended. Samuel, whose fame as a philosopher is waning, takes the birds’ appearance as an omen that the time is ripe for his newest venture. He will start a school for young women, guiding their intellectual development as he has so carefully guided his daughter’s. Despite Caroline’s misgivings, Samuel’s vision – revolutionary, as always; noble, as always; full of holes, as always – takes shape.

It’s not long before the students begin to manifest bizarre symptoms: rashes, seizures, verbal tics, night wanderings. In desperate, the school turns to the ministering of a sinister physician – just as Caroline’s body, too, begins its betrayal. As the girls’ condition worsens, Caroline must confront the all-male, all-knowing authorities of her world, the ones who insist the voices of the sufferers are unreliable.

Written in intensely vivid prose and brimming with insight, The Illness Lesson is a powerful exploration of women’s bodies, women’s minds and the time-honoured tradition of doubting both.

The Review

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams seemed like my type of book. It was historical fiction at its base but also dealt with other issues. It looked at the sheltered life of women and how they had to conform to man’s whim, it looked at parental control, and it had a mystery element to it.

And it was a good story. I enjoyed it. It did take a while for me to get into the story but once I was in it I really enjoyed it but more for the feminist elements.

The Illness Lesson is a good read and for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams is available now.

For more information regarding Clare Beams (@clarebeams) please visit www.clarebeams.com.

For more information regarding Random House (@randomhouse) please visit www.randomhousebooks.com.

 

Title: The Velvet Hours

Author: Alyson Richman

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group

The Blurb

From the international bestselling author of The Lost Wife and The Garden of Letters, comes a story—inspired by true events—of two women pursuing freedom and independence in Paris during WWII.

As Paris teeters on the edge of the German occupation, a young French woman closes the door to her late grandmother’s treasure-filled apartment, unsure if she’ll ever return. 

An elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian cultivated a life of art and beauty, casting out all recollections of her impoverished childhood in the dark alleys of Montmartre. With Europe on the brink of war, she shares her story with her granddaughter Solange Beaugiron, using her prized possessions to reveal her innermost secrets. Most striking of all are a beautiful string of pearls and a magnificent portrait of Marthe painted by the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. As Marthe’s tale unfolds, like velvet itself, stitched with its own shadow and light, it helps to guide Solange on her own path.

Inspired by the true account of an abandoned Parisian apartment, Alyson Richman brings to life Solange, the young woman forced to leave her fabled grandmother’s legacy behind to save all that she loved.

The Review

Ever since I heard the story of the preserved apartment found in Paris I have been fascinated. How did this apartment go unnoticed for so long? What happened to the woman who lived there? There are so many unanswered questions that of course it makes for the perfect basis of a story. I have, before reading The Velvet Hours, read two books based on the same premise and both were very well written and enjoyable but none were as engaging as the story that Alyson Richman told.

In her story we delve more into the life of the courtesan Marthe de Florain who lived in the apartment and her story is created using a mixture of fact and fiction. We see the story from the perspective of Marthe and Solange (her granddaughter) amongst the backdrop of occupied France. It truly is captivating.

If you are a fan of historical fiction that has an intriguing true story at its heard then The Velvet Hours is the book for you.

The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman is available now.

For more information regarding Alyson Richman (@alysonrichman) please visit www.alysonrichman.com.

For more information regarding Berkley Publishing Group (@BerkleyPub) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: City of Girls

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Pages: 470 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

The Blurb

The blazingly brilliant new novel from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the international bestseller Eat Pray Love: a glittering coming-of-age epic stitched across the fabric of a lost New York.

The Review

This sumptuous tale is a lot more than the story of a debutante discovering herself. It is about the social changes in society; the development of a city; the change in time and attitudes. It is a love letter to the past and a recognition of just how magical life can be.

City of Girls is the first book in a very long time that has managed to provide the wow factor for me. The character of Vivian is shown with such unashamed honesty. We see every facet of her character – the good, the bad, and the ugly. She is an unforgettable heroine.

For me, City of Girls belongs to that rare breed of book. The one that you desperately do not want to end but cannot stop yourself from reading because you have to know what happens.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert is available now.

For more information regarding Elizabeth Gilbert (@GilbertLiz) please visit www.ElizabethGilbert.com.

For more information regarding Bloomsbury (@BloomsburyBooks) please visit www.bloomsbury.com.

Title: Ghost Wall

Author: Sarah Moss

Pages: 160 Pages

Publisher: Granta

The Blurb

The light blinds you; there’s a lot you miss by gathering at the fireside.

In the north of England, far from the intrusions of cities but not far from civilization, Silvie and her family are living as if they are ancient Britons, surviving by the tools and knowledge of the Iron Age.

For two weeks, the length of her father’s vacation, they join an anthropology course set to reenact life in simpler times. They are surrounded by forests of birch and rowan; they make stew from foraged roots and hunted rabbit. The students are fulfilling their coursework; Silvie’s father is fulfilling his lifelong obsession. He has raised her on stories of early man, taken her to witness rare artifacts, recounted time and again their rituals and beliefs—particularly their sacrifices to the bog. Mixing with the students, Silvie begins to see, hear, and imagine another kind of life, one that might include going to university, traveling beyond England, choosing her own clothes and food, speaking her mind.

The ancient Britons built ghost walls to ward off enemy invaders, rude barricades of stakes topped with ancestral skulls. When the group builds one of their own, they find a spiritual connection to the past. What comes next but human sacrifice?

A story at once mythic and strikingly timely, Sarah Moss’s Ghost Wall urges us to wonder how far we have come from the “primitive minds” of our ancestors.

The Review

I would love to say it is rare that I have a verbal outburst when reading a book but it really isn’t. I get so lost in them that I often tell the characters what I think they should do or what I think of them. However, it has been a long time since I repeatedly yelled at a character or cursed their very existence but that is exactly what Sarah Moss had me doing when I read Ghost Wall.

Ghost Wall is the story of Silvie. She is young, impressionable and kept naïve and held back by her father and his stern patriarchal beliefs – women should do the domestic stuff and men are hunters and gatherers. If you don’t like his rules, well you better keep it to yourself because there will be consequences.

It is on a trip across Britain’s countryside that Silvie realises that life shouldn’t be this way. But how is she supposed to break away from her father’s rules?

I didn’t think I would have such a strong reaction to Ghost Wall based on just the premise from the blurb and the cover but it is a book that – long after I have finished it – that I still think of it; think of the sinister relationship with her father and his relationship with history.

It is not for the fainthearted and there are some triggering subjects that feature within its pages but Ghost Wall is a book I would encourage everyone to read because it is powerful.

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss is available now.

For more information regarding Granta Books (@GrantaBooks) please visit www.granta.com.

Title: My Lady Jane

Author: Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Walker

The Blurb

A comical, fantastical and witty re-imagining of the Tudor world, perfect for fans of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger – and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I had so much hope for My Lady Jane. Granted that hope was based on the fact that I liked the pretty cover but still I did have hope. You see, I like historical fiction. I love interpretations of a time when I wasn’t alive. It is the closest thing to time travel that we have got. Sadly, My Lady Jane just didn’t do it for me. It was a bit too warped. I think if there hadn’t been the fantasy element to the story I could have been a bit more enthusiastic but it just wasn’t for me. It will be for someone but I didn’t get it.

Sorry.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton is available now.

For more information regarding Cynthia Hand (@CynthiaHand) please visit www.cynthiahandbooks.com.

For more information regarding Jodi Meadows (@jodimeadows) please visit www.jodimeadows.com.

For more information regarding Brodi Ashton (@Brodiashton) please visit www.brodiashton.com.blogspot.com.

For more information regarding Walker (@WalkerBooksUK) please visit www.walker.co.uk.