#BookReview STILL LIFE by SARAH WINMAN #audiobook


ABOUT THE BOOK


By the bestselling, prize-winning author of When God was a Rabbit and Tin Man, Still Life is a beautiful, big-hearted, richly tapestried story of people brought together by love, war, art, flood… and the ghost of E.M. Forster.

We just need to know what the heart’s capable of, Evelyn.
And do you know what it’s capable of?
I do. Grace and fury.

It’s 1944 and in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa, as the Allied troops advance and bombs fall around them, two strangers meet and share an extraordinary evening together.

Ulysses Temper is a young British solider and one-time globe-maker, Evelyn Skinner is a sexagenarian art historian and possible spy. She has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the ruins and relive her memories of the time she encountered EM Forster and had her heart stolen by an Italian maid in a particular Florentine room with a view.

These two unlikely people find kindred spirits in each other and Evelyn’s talk of truth and beauty plants a seed in Ulysses mind that will shape the trajectory of his life – and of those who love him – for the next four decades.

Moving from the Tuscan Hills, to the smog of the East End and the piazzas of Florence, Still Life is a sweeping, mischievous, richly-peopled novel about beauty, love, family and fate.


PUBLISHED BY FOURTH ESTATE


PURCHASE LINK


Amazon

Blackwell’s

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audio version of this book – exquisitely read by the author!! A must listen!!

Simply superb!!! The most wonderful story!! This was everything I love in a book! Endearing characters, amazing settings and historical backdrops! All blended to create a world you get sucked in to and you’re bereft when the book finishes! I want to be back in the East End. Back in Tuscany and Florence! And back with the most wonderful creation of characters that enchant you with their lives!

The start of the book is the meeting of a young English soldier in WW2 meeting with an elder art historian, and their connection is instantaneous. What follows is their lives over a number of years and how those war years stay strong in their minds. In both their lives their friends become family, and you are taken along for the ride through their private and professional lives, their loves and losses, their highs and lows…both in England and in Italy. They all endure so much throughout their lives but that sense of community and support never goes away and you really connect with the passion they all show – be it for art, their surroundings, or for one another.

It was all so spellbinding! I laughed ( a lot!), tears were shed and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Still can’t!! Glorious!!


★★★★★

#BookReview MRS MARCH by VIRGINIA FEITO



ABOUT THE BOOK


Shirley Jackson meets Ottessa Moshfegh meets My Sister the Serial Killer in a brilliantly unsettling and darkly funny debut novel full of suspense and paranoia

George March’s latest novel is a smash hit. None could be prouder than Mrs. March, his dutiful wife, who revels in his accolades and relishes the lifestyle and status his success brings.

A creature of routine and decorum, Mrs. March lives an exquisitely controlled existence on the Upper East Side. Every morning begins the same way, with a visit to her favourite patisserie to buy a loaf of
olive bread, but her latest trip proves to be her last when she suffers an indignity from which she may never recover: an assumption by the shopkeeper that the protagonist in George March’s new book –
a pathetic sex worker, more a figure of derision than desire – is based on Mrs. March.

One casual remark robs Mrs. March not only of her beloved olive bread but of the belief that she knew everything about her husband – and herself – sending her on an increasingly paranoid journey, one
that starts within the pages of a book but may very well uncover both a killer and the long-buried secrets of Mrs. March’s past.

A razor-sharp exploration of the fragility of identity and the smothering weight of expectations, Mrs. March heralds the arrival of a wicked and wonderful new voice.


PUBLISHED BY FOURTH ESTATE

PURCHASE LINK


Blackwell’s

MY REVIEW

This was a slow burner of a book, but it grabbed me completely. I found it to be quiet and unassuming at times, but a devastating character study of a woman clearly struggling with her mind and the depths that paranoia take her to.

Mrs March is the wife of a very successful author, bringing them both a very comfortable life. Her husband is away a lot so she seems to fill her days with shopping, parties – and overthinking! And it was a comment overhead about a character in her husbands book, that triggers another wave of self doubt and leads her on a path of distrust. She starts to see the book wherever she is, almost like it is taunting her.

The story looks at her past, how she met George and how their relationship blossomed to how it is now, and alludes to her having lived a troubled childhood too. You are never quite sure with her narration just how much to believe, and when she starts to believe that her husband is involved with the disappearance of a woman where he recently stayed, we get to witness just how her damaged mind processes the possibilities and the lengths she’ll go to prove his guilt.

There’s such a sadness about the characters involved in this book – it’s all about appearance and status, and how a simple throwaway comment can impact on the outlook of somebody who obviously has been damaged in the past due to her upbringing.

I know this book has split opinions, and it’s definitely not a ‘light’ read but I found it to be captivating in a dark and disturbing way!

★★★★★

#BookReview HOW TO BE SAD by HELEN RUSSELL



ABOUT THE BOOK

We live in an age when most reality TV shows climax in a tearful finale. But feeling sad – genuinely sad – is still taboo. Yet, sadness happens to us all, sometimes in heartbreakingly awful ways. If we don’t know how to be sad, it can be isolating for those experiencing it and baffling for those trying to help loved ones through dark times.

Today, most of us know intellectually that ‘sad’ is normal. But we’re not always brilliant at allowing for it, in practice. Sadness is going to happen, so we might as well know how to ‘do it’ right. And it’s time to start facing our problems and talking about them. Positive psychology may have become more accepted in mainstream culture, but rates of depression have continued to rise.

We’re trying so hard to be happy. But studies show that we could all benefit from learning the art of sadness and how to handle it, well.

PUBLISHED BY FOURTH ESTATE

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

I finished this book with tears in my eyes! Not because it was a tragic ending, but because it was hopeful and refreshing – you aren’t alone!!

We live in a world that is based on ‘being happy’, seemingly at all costs for some, and this book gives a fascinating balance to that saying we need to embrace the negative more instead of trying to shut it out and avoid it all costs! Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, and we need to take more in our stride and deal with the differing emotions that life throws our way in a more pro-active way, instead of trying to shut out all feelings with pills and medication.

The author delves heavily into her own life which is full of heartbreak and has led her on the path to trying to understand why she feels the way she does. From childhood, to her present life, she looks back at the different stages and events that have shaped her as a person. And how as a society we are encouraged to dismiss all the bad stuff and strive for happiness 24/7! That isn’t humanly possible! But society tells us it is as we scroll through various social media sites, seeing the happy posts of people, and this book does a brilliant job of looking behind the curtain on a number of issues of how ‘sadness’ is perceived.

She also talks to a number of well known people on their own battles with expressing their emotions in life and that was quite illuminating. The public image versus the personal battles, and that’s another way in which social media has skewered our views on people.

From the role of parents trying to suppress their childrens’ emotions – quick, buy them stuff to make them happy all the time! – to how as adults we find it difficult to express our feelings and feel ashamed to be truthful or ask for help when we are suffering. It also explores different ways of getting out of your head, so to speak, in the form of therapy, medication, reading, being in nature – and the importance of switching off from the digital world for your own wellbeing, something I always feel better for doing.

This was a really well written book, full of so much honesty and great advice and information.

★★★★