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How I discovered this book: Recommendation - can't remember who from, alas; Amazon tells me I downloaded it in 2021. I was looking down my Kindle Unlimited library to decide what to return; when I saw it, I wondered why I had not read it before!
In a Nutshell: Part 1 of a trilogy about Richard Plantagenet, later to become King Richard III
This book covers Richard's childhood, from little more than infancy to the age of fourteen. It is told in the first person, which I always like best for historical fiction based on fact.
I loved this book, so much that I downloaded the next two before I'd finished it (and am already reading #2). J P Reedman has written Richard as I imagined him: a loyal, intelligent, studious and serious boy, wise beyond his years in many respects. The other Yorks and those close to them were also portrayed exactly as I see them - Edward IV the golden, kingly warrior, whose over-confidence and appetites could sometimes be his undoing; the gluttonous, garrulous George, Duke of Clarence; dashing, intense Richard, Earl of Warwick. Quiet, reserved Anne Neville, flirtatious Isabella, and the ambitious Elizabeth Woodville.
I know the story of this period of history well, so I was most interested to see how various events would be depicted through Richard's eyes. J P Reedman has artfully executed developments that occurred outside Richard's orbit; there are no clumsy monologues from other characters to let the reader know what is happening, few unrealistically overheard conversations. This is the history as Richard would have seen it; some events of importance are hardly mentioned, because they would not have meant much to a child.
It is clear that much research about the time has gone into this book, though it is never intrusive. Instead, it immersed me in the period. I loved reading about the journeys from one place to another, what the country was like at the time, and about the halcyon days Richard spent at Middleham castle under the tutelage of Warwick.
Incidentally, I have often wondered what Edward IV would have made of his grandson and great-granddaugher: Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.
Highly recommended - now, to resume my reading of Book 2!
In a Nutshell: fast-paced drama around the theme of a serious psychological disorder.
A strange novel, this one, about law student Annie Bell who suffers from a form of schizophrenic disorder involving delusions and hallucinations, as well as self-harming. Billed as a 'thrilling psychological suspense novel', the writing style made it feel more like dark, disturbing chick lit, oxymoronic though that observation is. This is not a complaint - I liked the style very much, as a witty approach to dark subject matter totally works for me if executed well, and this is.
The story takes the reader through traumatic events in Annie's childhood and up to her early twenties, as she finishes studying to become a lawyer. Throughout, she is often unable to separate reality from imagination, inventing relationships with individuals that don't exist, to the extent that she believes herself to be living a life contrary to actual events. I know nothing about this sort of illness, but I did wonder why her mother and her best friend didn't realise that there was something seriously, dangerously wrong with her early on, and that she needed intensive psychiatric care. I also wondered how she was able to maintain her studies, given that half the time she was literally living in a fantasy world.
Throughout the book we read about the people with whom Annie comes into contact; usually it was clear who was real and who was a product of her illness, though now and again I wasn't sure! I admit to being disappointed by the ending, which seemed to wrap it all up too nicely, but on the whole I enjoyed reading this book very much.
In a Nutshell: Girl grows up alone in the marshland of North Carolina, in the 1950s and 60s.
I'm several years late to the party with this novel, but it finally got plucked from my TBR list (Amazon tells me I actually bought it three years ago!). For anyone who hasn't read it, it's about a girl called Kya who grows up alone in the marshland of North Carolina, in the 1950s and 1960s. When she is six her mother leaves, soon to be followed by her brothers and sisters and finally her drunken, abusive father. The story is about how she survives and how these years affect the events of her early adulthood; it paints a vivid picture of life in this forgotten backwater in the mid 20th Century, and shows how the changing attitudes of elsewhere in the country had yet to touch it. Kya's love of and connection with the marshland shines through; she is part of it.
Running through her story are chapters from 1969, when a body is discovered. Was Chase Andrews murdered? If so, by whom? Eventually, the two timelines meet up.
This is not a book to be read from today's viewpoint; the world was much larger in those days and it was easy for people to simply disappear, to evade authority, to lose touch with someone completely. Neither should Kya's survival be judged by the way in which today's children behave; she was taught how to live off the land from a young age, to do basic chores and be resilient. Then there is the fact that she was left alone with her abusive father by the brother who supposedly loved her; I don't think one can ever say that a character would or wouldn't behave a certain way. Human beings do all sorts of inexplicable stuff.
There were a couple of aspects that seemed a little far-fetched (such as her learning to read in about two days, the ease with which her shack on the marshes was connected to mains water and electricity supplies), and there were some loose ends that I expected to be tied up, but on the whole I enjoyed the book very much. It's one of those that depends on how much you are willing to suspend your disbelief, I think.
In a Nutshell: Suspenseful domestic violence-themed family drama
Wife and mother Delilah wonders if she will ever be brave enough to escape years of domestic violence - and whether she can discover the truth about the crimes she fears her husband may have committed.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it's so well-written and a real page-turner. The portrayal of Chase Reddick's character is so typical of the misogynist violent male, and anyone who has ever been in a relationship with this sort of man (or those with addiction problems) will be so familiar with that 'waiting for the other shoe to drop' situation that Delilah finds herself in, every minute of every day. The side-plot is interesting and convincing, and added another dimension to the story.
As with any tale about a person stuck in similar circumstances, Delilah's tale will make you want to scream at her to be brave, to take friend Carmen's offer of a way out. The intricate way in which the author details her constant strategies to hide what she's doing from Chase is artful indeed, and also the confusion she feels when she discovers that Chase is sleeping with another woman. She knows she shouldn't care, but an atom of jealousy creeps in, and meetings with the woman concerned only increase her feeling of inadequacy.
The reasons why the glamorous Chase chose Delilah are all totally feasible - aside from the immediate, practical reason, men like him often make a point, either consciously or subconsciously, of choosing women who will accept the treatment they are likely to dish out. Why Delilah wanted Chase is also clear - the infatuation, obsession, lack of self-esteem. The only question for me is why she had such rock bottom self-esteem in the first place - that she stayed with a man who made it clear to her that he didn't find her attractive (and worse). Just a few lines to say something about why she was such a doormat would have rounded her character out nicely; I kept wondering, all through, if we were going to find out, maybe in flashbacks, about the relationship she had with Chase when she was younger.
That said, this is an extremely good book and one I most definitely recommend! Only downside is that it's priced at £8, which may put some ebook buyers off.