Sleepless Night

Sleepless Night by Magriet de Moor

In the space of one sleepless night de Moor weaves a tale of remorse, grief and  a bit of the madness that ensues after the suicide of a loved one, all in among the prospects of new beginnings. The story is compact and gripping. The heroine, a woman widowed several years ago, is plagued by sleepless nights on occasion and bakes to pass the time. 1487005288As the night lumbers on she recounts her story, rehashing the past, looking for the answer to her husband’s demise. In an attempt to come to terms with her loss and to fulfill her need to be held, she takes a series of lovers who sleep soundly in her bed as she bakes in the kitchen downstairs.

The book left me with more questions than answers and deserved a second read. There were still unanswered questions at the end of the second read. This is a thought provoking book that is to be taken seriously. &There are layers of meaning here, which with adroit subtlety de Moor lets the reader puzzle out for themselves.&

I would definitely like to read more by this author from The Netherlands.

Review by Christine

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.


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

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.


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