Book Review: The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs

The Joyce Girl - Annabel Abbs

As a student mental health nurse, I’m constantly on the lookout for novels featuring themes of mental health; to see how mental illness is portrayed, so when Mairead @ Swirl and Thread recommended I read The Joyce Girl, I listened, and I’m so glad I did.

Book Description:

1928

Avant-garde Paris is buzzing with the latest ideas in art, music, literature and dance. Lucia, the talented and ambitious daughter of James Joyce, is making her name as a dancer, training with some of the world’s most gifted performers. When a young Samuel Beckett comes to work for her father, she’s captivated by his quiet intensity and falls passionately in love. Persuaded she has clairvoyant powers, Lucia believes her destiny is to marry Beckett. But when her beloved brother is enticed away, the hidden threads of the Joyces’ lives begin to unravel, destroying Lucia’s dreams and foiling her attempts to escape the shadow of her genius father.

1934

Her life in tatters, Lucia is sent by her father to pioneering psychoanalyst Carl Jung. For years she has kept quiet. But now she decides to speak.

Inspired by a true story, The Joyce Girl is a compelling and moving account of thwarted ambition and the destructive love of a father. Continue reading “Book Review: The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs”

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Book Review: The Girl from the Sugar Plantation (The Quint Chronicles) by Sharon Maas

The Girl from the Sugar Plantation - Sharon Mass

Don’t let it be said that Bookouture blog tours are not effective! This book wasn’t on my radar until I saw a wealth of reviews praising it, naturally it became a must read. And it had that extra pull as it’s set in Guyana and, by way of my dad, I’m half Guyanese.

Book Description:

An unputdownable story about a woman in search of the truth, the man she falls in love with, and the devastation of the Second World War.

1934, Georgetown.

All her life, Mary Grace has wanted to know the truth about who her parents really are. As the mixed-race daughter of two white plantation owners, her childhood has been clouded by whispered rumours, and the circumstances of her birth have been kept a closely guarded secret…

Aunt Winnie is the only person Mary Grace can confide in. Feeling lost and lonely, her place in society uncertain, Mary Grace decides to forge her own path in the world. And she finds herself unexpectedly falling for charming and affluent Jock Campbell, a planter with revolutionary ideas.

But, with the onset of the Second World War, their lives will be changed forever. And Mary Grace and Jock will be faced with the hardest decision of all – to fight for freedom or to follow their hearts…

An utterly compelling and evocative story about the heart-breaking choices men and women had to make during a time of unimaginable change. Perfect for fans of The Secret Wife and Island of Secrets. Continue reading “Book Review: The Girl from the Sugar Plantation (The Quint Chronicles) by Sharon Maas”

Book Review: The Strays by Emily Bitto

The Strays - Emily Bitto

In a bid to #ReadTheWorld, this month Babbling Book Club stopped in Australia to read The Strays, a family saga, written by Emily Bitto.

From the back cover:

On her first day at a new school, Lily befriends one of the daughters of infamous painter Evan Trentham. He and his wife are trying to escape the conservatism of 1930s Australia by inviting other like-minded artists to live at their home. Lily becomes infatuated with this wild, bohemian lifestyle and longs to truly be a part of the family.

But as the years pass, Lily observes the way the lives of these artists come to reflect their art. Yet it’s not Evan, but his own daughters, who pay the price for his radicalism. Almost 30 years later, Lily contemplates the ordinary path her own life took, how she has played it safe, but does freedom come at a cost?

Brought together once more, this is a story of the impact of loss, devotion and obsession, and the demise of one family. Continue reading “Book Review: The Strays by Emily Bitto”

Book Review: Widdershins by Helen Steadman

Widdershins - Helen Steadmnan

‘Did all women have something of the witch about them?’

From the back cover:

Jane Chandler is an apprentice healer. From childhood, she and her mother have used herbs to cure the sick. But Jane will soon learn that her sheltered life in a small village is not safe from the troubles of the wider world.

From his father’s beatings to his uncle’s raging sermons, John Sharpe is beset by bad fortune. Fighting through personal tragedy, he finds his purpose: to become a witch-finder and save innocents from the scourge of witchcraft.

Inspired by true events, Widdershins tells the story of the women who were persecuted and the men who condemned them. Continue reading “Book Review: Widdershins by Helen Steadman”

Book Review: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead

I’d not heard of this book until Diverse Books Club announced it as one of their September reads. Naturally, after reading the synopsis, I had to get myself a copy and join in.

Book Description:

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North.

In Whitehead’s razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But its placid surface masks an infernal scheme designed for its unknowing black inhabitants. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher sent to find Cora, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

At each stop on her journey, Cora encounters a different world. As Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history. Continue reading “Book Review: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead”