I recently read The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal, if I could sum this book up in a few words it would be that it is an incredibly moving story and at times heartbreaking. Using a parallel timeline, we follow Mona on the eve of her 60th birthday as she reflects on her past. She runs a doll shop and also helps women cope with tragic losses; something she’s too familiar with. Some may dislike reading two timelines at once but I personally enjoyed it and find that each event complements another. It also shows the power of the story as I was willing younger Mona’s path to change even though I knew the eventual outcome. There is a twist at the end of the book which took me by surprise which I’m sure was the aim. There’s the reoccurring theme of missed chances throughout the novel with the story of Bridie back in Ireland and Mona’s potential suitor Karl. It’s a very thought-provoking novel and I feel it deals with the subject of loss very well. Setting part of it during the IRA bombing in Birmingham was a good touch, highlighting how Irish immigrants during this time in Britain would have felt. I would definitely recommend this book but would be wary as it does deal with the loss of children.
So here’s my first book review and it’s a positive one with a unique publisher. On the House by Helen Maskew was published last year by Unbound, a crowdfunding publisher that allows authors to raise money by talking to readers and sharing ideas. If enough people are interested in the idea, they can help contribute. I recently went to a talk at my town’s first Literary Festival and heard some great writers talk about their experiences. Even though they have all had success, they still explained how it’s such a demanding job. You can’t write one book and hope to retire with riches. Starting out you have to be able to work at the same time while facing rejection. So Unbound is great concept that I hope will continue. Onto the book.
On The House is thoroughly researched and well written social commentary on the hardships faced by everyday people in Victorian England. The novel starts with Edgar, the local landowner who becomes embroiled in the nearby workhouse. He slowly starts to see that not all is as it seems. He already dislikes the hypocrisy of his class and becomes a champion for social justice. For a history lover like me, it was a joy to read as I could tell how much work had gone into making the novel as accurate as possible. This leads me to the only criticism that those unfamiliar or disinterested in the topic might struggle to enjoy or fully grasp the conext. I loved the references to Charles Dickens as well as the Peterloo massacre which had a poignant connection to the unfair social system of the time.
With hindsight now we know the welfare laws weren’t fair or humane, unfortunately, something that still goes on today. There was an unexpected gruesome section that was a stark but enjoyable contrast to the rest of the story. The story came to a satisfactory ending which gave hope in a bleak time. I believe this is a planned trilogy and I look forward to reading more of these enjoyable blends of social commentary and a gripping whodunit.
Click on the book cover below to get the ebook from Amazon.
As I list reading as one of my favourite things and I work in a library I thought it might be a good idea to talk about some of the books I have been reading. After a recommendation from a friend at work I have got into the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. They would not have been my usual choice but I cannot recommend these enough. If like me you love books about books then these are perfect. Its set in an alternate 1980s which is very different but still recognisable to us, for example Germany won the second war and Britain was occupied for a number of years, time-travel and book-travel exists and most importantly of all literature is vastly more ingrained in culture than it is now. The first book involves the protagonist Thursday Next travelling into Jane Eyre which has a very different ending to the one we are familiar with. It’s an extremely funny book and spans multiple genres so there’s something in there for everyone. It’s full of literary references and jokes which is what makes me really enjoy it, so if you’re looking for something new to read The Eyre Affair is a must. I am also valiantly ploughing through A Dance With Dragons (Game of Thrones), but as I’m a big fan of the tv show and watched that first it does take away some of the enjoyment when I reading bits that I already know the outcome of or they were omitted from the show (sometimes for good reason). At work I constantly have bits of paper in my pocket from books that I have seen that look interesting, the list keeps getting longer but I don’t seem to have the time to read them. I would love to try some new things though so if anyone has any recommendations please comment as I love finding new books.