The Colour Purple by Alice Walker

About the book

Set in the deep American South between the wars, THE COLOR PURPLE is the classic tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.

Reviewed by Perspectives

A very readable book with many different themes all woven together. A book about relationships, hardship overcome and a happy ending”

star rating ****

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Rabbit Stew and a Penny or Two by Maggie Smith-Bendell

About the book

Born on a Somerset pea-field in 1941, the second of eight children in a Romani family, Maggie Smith-Bendell has lived through the years of greatest change in the travelling community’s long history. As a child, Maggie rode and slept in a horse-drawn wagon, picked hops and flowers, and sat beside her father’s campfire on ancient verges, poor but free to roam. As the twentieth century progressed, common land was fenced off and the traditional ways disappeared. Eventually Maggie married a house-dweller and tried to settle for bricks and mortar, but she never lost the restless spirit, the deep love of the land and the gift for storytelling that were her Romani inheritance. Maggie’s story is one of hardship and prejudice, but also, unforgettably, it recalls the glories of the travelling life, in the absolute safety of a loyal and loving family.

Reviewed by The Benches

Disappointing book- added very little to our knowledge of Romany life apart from some traditions concerning death. Interesting aspect, but touched on only briefly was their plight during both World Wars. Many family photo reproductions throughout the book which could potentially have been an interesting area to explore. Perhaps a ‘ghost’ writer could have probed and expanded what became a basic book. Could, maybe make, with a skilful interviewer, an interesting radio programme. The writing was dire and rambling.

star rating – * ½

 

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Aprons and Silver Spoons by Mollie Moran

About the book

When young Mollie became a ‘skivvy’ in a stately London townhouse aged just 14, she quickly learned that a large amount of elbow grease and a sense of humour would be tantamount to surviving there. Through Mollie’s eyes we are offered a fascinating glimpse into London’s invisible ‘downstairs’, a world that has long-since vanished: cooking huge roast dinners, polishing doorknobs, scrubbing steps – and covering up her employers’ scandals. Going to dances with her fellow servants and flirting with Harrods’ errand boys, she had no idea that the oncoming war in 1939 would change her world, and that of those she served, forever…

Discover the real hardships and rewards for a pre-war domestic servant in Mollie Moran’s charming memoir Aprons and Silver Spoons.

Reviewed by Cake and Book Club

“Our group of nine ladies enjoyed this very easy read. Very Upstairs Downstairs / Downton Abbey theme. Set in the 1930s it is a wonderful social and political history of class divide. A very interesting glimpse into the past social traditions”

star rating ****

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