‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi

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★★★★

Why have I not read this book before?? I absolutely get why this immersive and thoughtful book has garnered so many awards and attention. It begins with young Effia in 18th century Ghana who is beaten by her mother but loved by her father. As a sort of escape from or banishment from her mother, Effie marries the European slave trader James Collins. Her sister Esi, whom Effie never meets, has a completely different fate in which she is kidnapped, beaten and sent across the Atlantic (by Effia’s Husband!) to be a slave. The novel follow their descendants for the next centuries.

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‘Thomas the Rhymer’ by Ellen Kushner

Thomas the Rhymer

★★★★★

Kushner has taken a historical figure, the minstrel Thomas from 13th century Scotland, and turned him into the centre of a part historical fiction, part fantasy masterpiece! Thomas is charming, musically talented and ambitious to become harpist to the king. One day he is taken away to Elfland by the Elf Queen herself, leaving behind a woman who loves him and kind hearted older couple for whom Thomas is the closest they have to a son. When Thomas finally comes back after seven years, their lives have moved on, and Thomas has changed too – becoming a magical figure. This is not just a book about how the endowment of magical abilities changes the life of one person (which is what most fantasy books are about), but also about the lives of those around the hero are altered. It is a fresh take!

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‘A Convenient Marriage’ by Georgette Heyer

The Convenient Marriage

★★★

Are you stressed out right now? Tons of stuff to do and need a bit of a break in which you can turn your brain of and forget about the world for a while? I recommend Georgette Heyer’s book A Convenient Marriage, for it is delightfully simple in plot and character development, but also written in such a perfect 18th century voice and with loads of humor, you cannot help but have a good time.

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‘Tomorrow’ by Damian Dibben

Tomorrow

★★★★

Who does not want to read about an immortal dog? Especially as clever and brave a dog as Tomorrow? When we meet our canine protagonist, he has been waiting for his master in Venice for 127 years. His owner told him that if they were separated, they would meet up on the St. Marco steps, but his owner never came! Did he really abandon Tomorrow? The man was immortal himself, but is it possible that he somehow died? Tomorrow decides that the time of waiting has ended and the time of action has come. As the Napoleon Wars rage across Europe, Tomorrow wanders, searching for his best friend.

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‘The Absolutist’ by John Boyne

The Absolutist

★★★★★

After having read Boyne’s children’s novel Stay Where You Are And Then Leave set during WW1, I felt like reading his WW1 novel for adults. You really feel the difference; this book deals with some seriously depressing themes. Specifically tells the story of those men who were not killed by enemy fire or illness, but killed by their own side for refusing to fight.

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‘Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery’ by Arnold Thomas Fanning

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★★★★

Fanning writes so openly about depression and shame that it almost hurts to read his book, but it is so worth it! Fanning has bipolar disorder. Today he is able to manage the illness, but there was a ten year period after he was diagnosed in which he was constantly severely depressed or in the midst of psychosis. He tells us absolutely everything about that period – relationships, madness, homelessness and family life.

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‘The Memoirs of Harriette Wilson’ by Harriette Wilson

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★★★

I had never heard of Harriette Wilson before I came across this very interesting blog post about her and her siblings. She was a courtesan in the late 18th and early 19th century London. The daughter of a shopkeeper, but became the mistress of some of the most powerful men in Regency London. The voices of women of the past are not as loud or as noticeable of that of men’s, but here we get the perspective of a woman who was accepted into high society but always remained an outsider – a demimonde in the truest sense of the word!

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