Claire Holden Rothman’s — The heart specialist *****

Claire Holden Rothman’s — The heart specialist *****

Agnes’s father is acquitted of murdering his maimed sister, but he still loses his teaching position at McGill University, and abandons his pregnant wife and daughter. But Agnes cannot forget the image she holds of her father. She is not like her younger pretty sister, Laura. She is determined to follow in her father’s footsteps and seek a medical degree at McGill and determined to find her father. In the late 1900s when women are barred from entering the medical faculty, will she succeed?

This fictional book was inspired by the work and professional life of one of Montreal’s first female physicians, Dr Maude Elizabeth Seymour Abbott.

Karen Connelly’s — The lizard cage *****

Karen Connelly’s — The lizard cage *****

Teza is a political prisoner jailed in solitary confinement in a Burmese prison. He endures his punishment with patience, an ability to focus on any tiny distraction within his cell, and the limited contact with the prison authorities.

I am at a loss as to how this entire novel took place in a jail cell, but still had me captivated by every sentence.

Nancy Huston’s — The mark of an angel *****

Nancy Huston’s — The mark of an angel *****

Saffie is a German living in Paris in the 1950s who works for a musician, Raphael. Raphael falls desperately in love with Saffie while she appears strangely aloof. They have a child together, but when Saffie meets Marias, their lives fall apart and Saffie’s haunted past comes to light.

This is Huston at her best. While I read this novel more than a decade ago, it’s tale has always remained embedded in my memory — a sure sign of an exceptional story.

The importance of research

The importance of research

Research is a fundamental part of writing. Sometimes we think we know everything about a topic or place, but it’s always good to check the facts. Readers are savvy, and an error can pull them right out of your story. It happened to me while reading a well-known book set in Germany. Dialog yanked me out of the story and I turned to the back cover to check, knowing only an Australian author would use that phrase not a German, and I was right. Continue reading “The importance of research”