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.
Rating: 4 stars Genre: Literary fiction, magical realism Summary: When David sets out in his fishing boat from the island of Black Conch, on a morning that seems the same as any other, the last thing he expects is to come face-to-face with a mermaid. He always thought such creatures existed only in rumour and legend, but here one stares at his boat in the vulnerable reality of flesh and blood, and he must step in to protect her when American tourists arrive for a hunting trip like no other. David nurtures trust and then love between himself and the mermaid, desperate to carve out a life for them among the richness and darkness of his island home. Yet it remains to be seen whether this fusion of woman and myth can ever be his to hold onto.
Maurice Hall appears to be the prototype of the English gentleman - educated at a prestigious school, he will inevitably go on to study at Cambridge then take his place alongside London's wealthy financiers. Yet when he falls in love with a fellow male student at Cambridge, Maurice feels the ground of convention pulled from beneath his feet. He is forced to make an agonising decision: betray his true self in exchange for a place in polite society, or risk turning his back on this safe and familiar world to live authentically.
Rating: 4.5 stars Genre: Literary fiction Summary: Raised by her mother and three aunts in a bustling Istanbul home, Asya is tired of negotiating their multiplying expectations and dreams of fleeing to lead her own, unfettered life. Across the continents, in America, Armanoush is also struggling to deal with the demands of her large and dissonant family. When the two young women cross paths, they will force their families towards a reckoning with the past that has been almost a century in waiting.
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?
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.
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.
Rating: 3 stars
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.
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...
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...