The Far Field

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

Shalini is trying to make sense of her life after the death of her mother. With forays into the past to lay the groundwork for her present actions, Shalini takes us on a journey to The Himalayas as she searches for a friend who disappeared decades ago. Her presence in politically unstable Kashmir is enough to set a series of unfortunate events in motion. Her naivete in this political climate leads to actions and reactions that she will regret for the rest of her life.

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Vijay provides a critique of Indian politics and class prejudice through the eyes of her characters. She gives us food for thought about grief, guilt and the limits of compassion. Her very realistic characters are &tender and complex, mysterious and flawed&.

It is easy to be swept up in the flow of the narrative that twists and turns and offers up many surprises along the way.

This great novel is available at the Perth Library, where patrons of the Lanark Highlands Library now have borrowing privileges.

Review by Christine

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Pearl of China

Pearl of China by Anchee Min
This book is a fictional story based on the life of Pearl S. Buck, nobel prize winning writer and activist. She was the daughter of missionaries working in China  during the last of the nineteenth century.
downloadHer friendship with a destitute Chinese girl lasts for years until civil war breaks out. Pearl has to flee Mao’s  new regime but her loyalty to her friend continues. The books that Pearl wrote about the life in China were legendary. After I out grew the juvenile genre, I found her books. The fascinating stories of daily life in China took me through my teenage years. I loved them so I read them over and over.
I was so happy when my niece discovered Anchee Min and we had many discussions. I find her books timeless. Hopefully, after reading this Anchee Min novel, patrons will be encouraged to seek out Pearl S. Buck’s books.
Review by Romalda Park

The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor

The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong

& In 1775, twenty-year-old Charlotte Taylor flees her English country house in the company of her lover, the family’s black butler. To escape the fury of her father, the couple boards a ship for the West Indies. But ten days after reaching shore, Charlotte’s lover dies of yellow fever, leaving her alone and pregnant in Jamaica.

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The resourceful young woman swiftly makes an alliance with a naval commodore who plies a trading route between the Caribbean and British North America. She travels north with him, landing at the Baie des Chaleurs, in what is present day northern New Brunswick.

In the sixty years that followed, she would have three husbands, nine more children and a lifelong relationship with an aboriginal man.

Charlotte Taylor lived in the front row of history, walking the same paths as the expelled Acadians, the privateers of the British American War and the newly arriving Loyalists. In a rough and beautiful landscape she struggled to clear the land and battle the devastating epidemics, cruel winters and human conflicts that stalked her growing family.&

&The incredible true story of one much-married woman, The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor blends fact and fiction to deliver living history as imagined by Charlotte Taylor’s own great-great-great-granddaughter,& Sally Armstrong.

I found this biography to be simply yet well written. The plot moves along at a good pace. I felt immersed in the history of Canada and felt pride for this remarkable pioneer.

Review by Christine

The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Kathryn Stockett has written a marvelous book about the world of blacks and whites in Mississippi in the 1960’s. A world of segregation, riots, and coming of age. The heroine in the story, Eugenia &Skeeter& Phelan, has been away to college for 4 years and on her return is plagued with the concern of her mother over whether or not she will be able to the helpattract a husband. She is too smart, too choosie, too tall, her hair too wild etc, etc. In an effort to get out more and quiet her mother’s critical tongue Skeeter takes a job at the local paper, Jackson’s Journal, as the ghost writer for Miss Myrna,  a column that answers questions about housekeeping. Skeeter knows nothing about housekeeping and asks her friend’s maid, Aibileen, for answers to the questions that flood into the paper each week. Her talks with Aibileen lead to the beginnings of trust between the two. Skeeter longs for change in the south, longs for a society in which people are equal. She hatches a plan to write a book from the perspective of the maids, a risky venture for all concerned, and after much cajoling convinces Aibileen to help her.

Stockett writes in a plain style that keeps the reader wanting more. The plot moves along at a good pace. Her characters grow and are believable. I couldn’t help but have respect and admiration for the characters as they moved through this touching story.

The author describes her revelatory work in the following short paragraph,

&I was truly grateful to read Howell Raines’s Pulitzer Prize-winning article, &Grady’s Gift&.

&There is no trickier subject for a writer from the South than that of affection between a black person and a white one in the unequal world of segregation. For the dishonesty upon which the society is founded, makes every emotion suspect, makes it impossible to know whether what flowed between two people was honest feeling or pity or pragmatism.&

I read that and I thought, How did he find a way to put it into such concise words? Here was the same slippery issue I had been struggling with and couldn’t catch in my hands, like a wet fish. Mr Raines managed to nail it down in a few sentences. I was glad to hear I was in the company of others in my struggle.&

If you are moved my actions and attitudes of social injustice you will want to read this book.

Review by Christine

Pixie Tricks

Pixie Tricks by Tracey West

In this series about fairies Violet and her friend Sprite must trick fourteen fairies who have escaped from their world. The fairies are causing a lot of trouble for the humans in  our world. Each book tells of the adventures encountered by the heroes as, one by one, they trick and send back the troublemakers.

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What eight year old doesn’t like stories about fairies? These Scholastic books will have your junior reader reading avidly.

Come in to the library and pick up one or more of these books for your child.

Review by Christine

The Constant Princess

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

This historical novel is one of many on the subect of the British monarchy by bestselling author Philippa Gregory. Published in 2006, this book is about Katherine of Aragon. “She is known as the Queen who was pushed off her throne by Anne Boleyn, 16181here is a Katherine the world has forgotten: the enchanting princess that all England loved. First married to Heny VIII’s older brother, Arthur, Katherine’s passion turns their arranged marriage into a love match; but when Arthur dies, the merciless English court and her ambitious parents – the crusading King and Queen of Spain – have to find a new role for the widow. Ultimately it is Katherine herself who takes control of her own life by telling the most audacious lie in English history, leading her to the very pinnacle of power in England.

Set in the rich beauty of Moorish Spain and the glamour of the Tudor court, The Constant Princess presents a woman whose constancy helps her endure betrayal, poverty, and despair, until the inevitable moment when he steps into the role she has been prepared for all her life: Henry VIII’s Queen, Regent, and commander of the English army intheir greatest victory against Scotland.”

Philippa Gregory brings history to life in an interesting and thought provoking work that will keep you turning pages until the end of the book.

We have many books by this author at LHPL. Come on in and pick one up.

Review by Christine

 

The Franciscan Conspiracy

The Franciscan Conspiracy by John Sack

Set in the 1200’s in medeival Europe John Sack takes us on a journey through the life of Franciscan brother, Conrad, as he follows clues delivered to him in secret by a young woman disguised as a novice. Conrad’s strict adherance to his vow of poverty and celibacy, as dictated by his order of monks, images (2)comes into question many times throughout his quest for the truth about his mentor Fra Francis. He suffers many trials inflicted by those who profess to be Christian brothers.

In this audio book the narrator is a little difficult to listen to for more than an hour or so at a time. He tends to drone on and his repertoire of voices is far exceeded by the number of characters he is to portray. Having said that, the book itself is interesting and gives vivid details of the life of monks in those times as well as social conditions and expectations. As a historical novel it is a success.

I borrowed this historical novel, in audio form, from our library through Overdrive. This is a great service for those who like e books and audio books. The books are downloaded to your device for 14 days and automatically returned to the library after that, thereby not taking up precious space on your reader or phone. If you have not finished, you can reborrow the item and when you open it, it will pick up where you last left off reading or listening. All this for free! If you are not signed up as yet and want to be, just stop into the library and ask one of the clerks to help you set up your account.

Review by Christine