Lily King’s — Euphoria *****

Lily King’s — Euphoria *****

In the 1930s, Nell is an anthropologist with a grant to study a New Guinea tribe. When Nell and her Australian husband, Fen and another anthropologist, Andrew find the group they want to study, Fen changes. He’s jealous that his wife has received the grant and he begins to break all the rules amongst the tribe. Nell grows wary of his behaviour, but not careful enough for what lies ahead.

Not only a great tale, but an interesting setting. In 2014 this book was nominated as one of the ten best books by the New York Times.

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Kobo Abe’s — The woman in the dunes ******

Kobo Abe’s — The woman in the dunes ******

Over two decades ago I saw a haunting Japanese movie based on Kobo Abe’s book that has always stayed with me. It was time to read this strange story of a man who walks into the sand dunes in search of beetles that survive in this unique environment. When the day draws to a close, Niki seeks shelter in a strange village he encounters. He is billeted with a woman living alone and only when he wakes the next morning does he learn his fate. This unique story will have you spitting sand and brushing it off your shoulders with every page turn.

Helen Humphreys’ — Afterimage*****

Helen Humphreys’ — Afterimage*****

When Annie’s strict employer dies in London she travels to the Dashell’s country residence to be their maid. She finds her new employer completely opposite from her London position. The Dashells are not fussy about the state of the house. They don’t set traps for her like her last employer. And they are not religious expecting her to pray daily.

Instead, she fines herself drawn away from the work she is employed to do into Isabelle Dashell’s obsession with photography becoming her model while Eldon Dashell is fixated over maps. Annie’s love of books draws her into Eldon’s world of exploration in his packed library while Isabelle’s selfish demands pull her into a situation she wants to escape. Will she be strong enough to break away?

Haruki Murakami’s — Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his year of pilgrimage *****

Haruki Murakami’s — Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his year of pilgrimage *****

Through his high school years Tsukura has a special relationship with his four best friends. But after he moves to Tokyo to continue his studies, he returns to Nagoya to discover none of his friends want anything to do with him. He is deeply hurt and only sixteen years later when he meets Jane, she encourages him to revisit his friends and find out the mystery behind why he was ostracized.

A moving story about friendships, loss and new beginnings.

Helen Humphreys’ — The lost garden ******

Helen Humphreys’ — The lost garden ******

Gwen leaves her job at the London Royal Horticultural Society during the Blitz and volunteers to oversee a group of girls in the Land Army. She heads to Devon to discover most of the girls are more interested in the Canadian officers stationed nearby than working the land for the war effort. With little confidence in her ability to lead a group of unwilling workers, Gwen finds a friend and supporter in Jane.

This beautifully written short novel deals with friendships and love lost through the experiences of the three main characters and a hidden garden Gwen discovers while she roams over the estate.

Richard B. Wright’s — Clara Callan

Richard B. Wright’s — Clara Callan

After their widowed father’s death in the 1930s, Nora leaves for New York while her sister, Clara, stays behind teaching in Canada. But while Clare is out on a walk, she is raped. When she discovers she’s pregnant, she travels to New York where Nora and a friend help her seek an abortion before she returns to Canada.

After her ordeal is behind her, she meets a friendly middle-aged man she falls in love with. But is he everything she believes he is?

Joanne Harris’ — Five quarters of an orange

Joanne Harris’ — Five quarters of an orange

On a farm on the outskirts of a small French village, Framboise, the youngest of three children, survives with her mother by selling their produce on market day. Their father has already been killed in battle, and the Germans occupy the country. While her mother may be a great cook, she has an acid tongue when her eyes rest on Framboise.

What follows after a German soldier witnesses Framboise stealing an orange that turns the entire community against the family?