Monday, 1 August 2022

The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson


Clare Button runs this popular little library in the Bethnal Green Tube station.

She faces many challenges: she is a widow and her mother and mother-in-law don’t approve of what she’s doing. Her immediate boss is very hard to please. Then there is a whole war going on out there and she feels obliged to help to keep several young people safe in these trying times.         

Kate Thompson tells a good story in the account of The Little Wartime Library that really existed though was somewhat different from the one depicted here.      


Friday, 1 July 2022

Grandmothers by Salley Vickers


The lives of three grandmothers and their grandchildren intertwine.

Each of the three women has her own set of challenges. Their interaction with their grandchildren brings them together. One character isn’t actually a grandmother but plays that role.

The characters are well drawn. The grandmother and the grandchildren are the main characters. The generation in between are more minor players but they are also believable and well-rounded.

It’s an easy read and it’s good to have characters over 50 who are at the same time just like  everyone else and yet feisty enough to survive in the modern world.

Salley Vickers has an easy style. Grandmothers offers a relaxing holiday read but invites you to reflect a little as well.        

Thursday, 2 June 2022

Many Different Kinds of Love: A story of life, death and the NHS by Michael Rosen


I was torn between two books this month and neither of them are a particularly easy read but I’ve finally decided on Michael Rosen’s Many Different Kinds of Love: A story of life, death and the NHS

This is a record of Rosen’s encounter with Covid.

He contracted the disease when it first visited us and when so little was known about it.  He was in an induced coma for eight weeks and his illness has actually lasted months. The text combines his own prose poems, the notes left to him by the NHS workers who attended him, and notes and diaries from nurses, doctors and from his wife.

Many Different Kinds of Love: A story of life, death and the NHS is a touching account of a journey through an illness. Michael Rosen tells part of the story in his own excellent writing.  Illustrations are by Chris Riddell.  



Monday, 2 May 2022

Meeting Coty by Ruth Estevez


I really enjoyed attending the launch of this book at the lovely Portico Library in Manchester. Ruth gave us a fascinating talk which included some of the history of the Coty firm. 

Tessa Garcia has big dreams and takes steps to make them come true.

Tessa faces many expectations from her Spanish-Irish Catholic family; that she should marry, that she shouldn’t work, and that she should be dependent on men all of her life. She already has a work ethos and an enthusiasm for perfumes. This arouses in her a fascination with the perfume maker François Coty.    

Estevez presents us with a narrative as smooths as silk in this fascinating story of Meeting Coty.   

Find your copy: 

Saturday, 2 April 2022

Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior


I’m recommending today Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior

An eccentric old lady decides to investigate a colony of penguins in Antarctica.  

Themes abound. Life for Veronica McCreedy verges on the absurd at times. Both she and grandson Patrick are shocked to find each other. They change each other’s lives. And they are changed and touched by their encounter with the penguins. We discover Veronica’s past as Patrick reads her diaries and as she confesses other details to Terry, one of the researchers.    

Hazel Prior draws her characters well and presents them to us through two very effective first person narratives.   

Find your copy here.     

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys


A mysterious adventure that navigates tricky cross-class relationships.

Who is the odd-looking woman who has murdered someone and who has been killed?

The book opens with this figure being escorted by two policemen from a ship that has docked in Sydney. We are kept guessing right up unto the very end. In the meantime, we meet many women who may have committed this crime and we might even decide there are several passengers on board the ship that we might feel like murdering if we were trapped with them for several weeks

The action takes place in 1939 and our travellers arrive in Australia within a few hours of the beginning of World War II. Protagonist Lily is travelling on an assisted passage to find work in service. This scheme existed to remedy a labour shortage in Australia.  Young women travelled tourist class and were well looked after as well as being given the chance to see something of the world before they settled down into domestic service. They would have to stay for at least two years. 

Rachel Rhys draws her characters well and keeps us guessing about what actually happens in Dangerous Crossing. 

Find your copy here.