The Other Family by Joanna Trollope

About the book

Chrissie, in the twenty-three years she’d been together with Richie, had always believed that he loved her.  He loved their three daughters and their house in Highgate and their happy, lively existence. But if she really was the love of his life, why had he never given her the one thing that would have made her life perfect?  Then suddenly Richie is no longer there, and without him Chrissie’s carefully constructed life is in jeopardy.The one big fact she had always tried to keep from her daughters threatens to overwhelm them all. For Richie had still been married to his first wife, the one with a son that he had abandoned in Newcastle. And now, with Richie gone and the practicalities of wills and money to be sorted out, it is finally time for the two families to face each other …

Reviewed by Goodworth Clatford

Very relevant to modern day life. Good characterisation. A very enjoyable read – the characters lived and were very easy to believe in. Good descriptions of Newcastle”

star rating ****

 

Reviewed by Museum

“We applaud the Bodleian’s decision to accept Joanna Trollope’s archive as we feel she is often underrated. Accessibility does not preclude quality. Interacting modern treatment of the perennial problem of the repercussions of a wil particularly when there are two families involved. Good characterisation (particularly of Margaret) and a vivid portrayal of the North East. Interesting too that Richie’s very different wives both performed the same function – each of them ‘love’ his life

star rating ***

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Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

About the book

My brother, Shiva, and I came into the world in the late afternoon of the twentieth of September in the year of grace 1954. We took our first breaths in the thick air of Addis Ababa, capital city of Ethiopia.  Bound by birth, we were driven apart by bitter betrayal. No surgeon can heal the would that divides two brothers. Where silk and steel fail, story must succeed.  To begin at the beginning…

Reviewed by Parish Pump

Everyone in the group absolutely loved this book. It was a real adventure, very intelligently written and well researched. Although a long book, it was well worth the read and no-one wanted to miss any part of it.”

star rating ****

 

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The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

About the book

It begins just before Christmas in Barcelona in 1957, one year after Daniel and Bea from THE SHADOW OF THE WIND have married. They now have a son, Julian, and are living with Daniel’s father at Sempere & Sons. Fermin still works with them and is busy preparing for his wedding to Bernarda in the New Year. However something appears to be bothering him.

Daniel is alone in the shop one morning when a mysterious figure with a pronounced limp enters. He spots one of their most precious volumes that is kept locked in a glass cabinet, a beautiful and unique illustrated edition of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO. Despite the fact that the stranger seems to care little for books, he wants to buy this expensive edition. Then, to Daniel’s surprise, the man inscribes the book with the words ‘To Fermin Romero de Torres, who came back from the dead and who holds the key to the future’. This visit leads back to a story of imprisonment, betrayal and the return of a deadly rival …

 

Reviewed by Wallington Village

Well drawn characters. Good use of language. The dialogue was clear with the characters telling the story which galloped

star rating – none provided

 

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The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller

About the book

Pippa seems to have everything in life. But suddenly she finds her world beginning to unravel. Amid the buzzing lawnmowers and suburban coffee mornings, she starts to wonder how she came to be in this place. The answer is a story of wild youth, unexpected encounters, affairs and betrayals, and the dangerous security of marriage. It brilliantly reveals the challenges of modern life – and all the possibilities that it holds.

 

Reviewed by Bigger than Books

“This book should come with a warning – from a comfortable beginning it becomes almost pornographic”

star rating *

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Next of Kin by David Hosp

About the book

When Boston attorney Scott Finn agrees to defend the son of notorious mobster Eamonn McDougal, he knows he’s putting his reputation on the line. But he also knows he can use him as bait to reel in the prize catch. In a city where mob crime once ruled, a core of corruption, greed, lies and deceit still lingers. And it seems there are those in power who will stop at nothing to achieve what they want.

Finn, who grew up an orphan on the meanest streets in the city, is determined to solve the murder of the mother he never knew. In his search for the truth he uncovers a sinister trail of murder, betrayal and revenge borne by someone who could neither forgive nor forget.

But who can be trusted, and who can be believed? And can Finn find the answers before it’s too late?

Reviewed by Fareham Library 5.30

“We all enjoyed this book, although some people found it hard to get into at first (perhaps because this is book 5 of a series?) It was a satisfying story, where all the loose ends get tied up. The characters were interesting and diverse. Many of us would like to read more in the (Scott Finn) Series

star rating ***

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Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

About the book

An epic tale of contemporary love and marriage.

This is the story of the Berglunds, their son Joey, their daughter Jessica and their friend Richard Katz. It is about how we use and abuse our freedom; about the beginning and ending of love; teenage lust; the unexpectedness of adult life; why we compete with our friends; how we betray those closest to us; and why things almost never work out as they ‘should’. It is a story about the human heart, and what it leads us to do to ourselves and each other.

 

 Reviewed by Women Who Read

“Those of us who persevered with this very long book were glad that we had read it. All the characters were interesting and complex but difficult to warm to. It was a long meander! A comparison to Middlemarch is very apt”

star rating ** ½

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Runaway by Alice Munro

About the book

The matchless Munro makes art out of everyday lives in this exquisite collection. Here are men and women of wildly different times and circumstances, their lives made vividly palpable by the nuance and empathy of Munro’s writing. Runaway is about the power and betrayals of love, about lost children, lost chances. There is pain and desolation beneath the surface, like a needle in the heart, which makes these stories more powerful and compelling than anything she has written before.

Reviewed by Brats et al Reading Group:

We had chosen this book because one of the group had read The View from Castle Rock, the story of Alice’s family history which had been enjoyed. We didn’t enjoy this set of short stories. We felt that the characters weren’t described very well and many of the stories had an ending that was very inconclusive or unbelievable. It was also slightly strange that in a book of short stories, there were three stories (about half the book) about one characters as if the author had a theme which they had toyed with as a novel but then decided that there wasn’t enough for a longer piece of work.

Star rating: *

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Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

About the book

Families have secrets they hide even from themselves… It should have been an ordinary birth, the start of an ordinary happy family. But the night Dr David Henry delivers his wife’s twins is a night that will haunt five lives for ever. For though David’s son is a healthy boy, his daughter has Down’s syndrome. And, in a shocking act of betrayal whose consequences only time will reveal, he tells his wife their daughter died while secretly entrusting her care to a nurse. As grief quietly tears apart David’s family, so a little girl must make her own way in the world as best she can.

Reviewed by New Forest/Waterside U3A Reading Group:

A well crafted, thought provoking story which being discussed, highlights how attitudes have altered in the past forty years. Not surprisingly with a large group (18) most of the moral break points have been experienced by someone in the group prepared openly to describe personal events and consequences. Kim Edwards writes beautiful English but is inclined to over-do minute descriptive details of scenery and characters behaviour. Predictably, some within the group felt that ‘tying up the ends’ is rushed. A good book for group reading.

Star rating: ***

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White Mughals by William Dalrymple

About the book

James Achilles Kirkpatrick was the British Resident at the court of Hyderabad when he met Khair un-Nissa – ‘Most Excellent among Women’ – the great-niece of the Prime Minister of Hyderabad. He fell in love with her and overcame many obstacles to marry her, converting to Islam and, according to Indian sources, becoming a double-agent working against the East India Company. It is a remarkable story, but such things were not unknown: from the early sixteenth century to the eve of the Indian Mutiny, the ‘white Mughals’ who wore local dress and adopted Indian ways were a source of embarrassment to successive colonial administrations. Dalrymple unearths such colourful figures as ‘Hindoo Stuart’, who travelled with his own team of Brahmins to maintain his temple of idols, and Sir David Auchterlony, who took all 13 of his Indian wives out for evening promenades, each on the back of her own elephant. In ‘White Mughals’, William Dalrymple discovers a world almost entirely unexplored by history, and places at its centre a compelling tale of seduction and betrayal.

Reviewed by Keyhaven Yacht Club Reading Group:

Very interesting but too dense and print too small for our group.

Star rating: **

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