Margaret Atwood’s — Alias Grace *****

Margaret Atwood’s — Alias Grace *****

Grace leaves Ireland to settle in Canada, but family hardship forces her into employment. When she moves away from her family to work for Thomas Kinnear, her life unravels. She is accused, along with another of Kinnear’s workers, of murdering Kinnear and his mistress.

This novel is based on the notorious nineteenth century murder when many believed Grace was evil and possibly insane, while others thought her innocent. So which is it?

Margaret Atwood is a prolific Canadian writer. For me, her two best novels are Alias Grace and The Handmaid’s Tale.

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Abdulrazak Gurnah’s — Desertion *****

Abdulrazak Gurnah’s — Desertion *****

When Hassanali heads to his Kenyan mosque one morning, he encounters an Englishman who collapses at his feet. Hassanali takes care of him until he can pass the Englishman on to the colonial officer. After his recovery, he visits Hassanali’s house to thank him where he encounters the man’s sister, Rehana. The Englishman immediately falls in love with the beautiful woman and begins a taboo love affair.

Another five out of five

Pearl S. Buck’s — Good earth *****

Pearl S. Buck’s — Good earth *****

Several years after Wang Lung marries O-lan, they begin to prosper from their hard work. But a lazy uncle soon wants to take advantage of Wang Lung’s success. At the same time, mismanagement within the emperor’s court leads to its decline.

This Pulitzer prize winning novel may have been written sixty years ago, but it is still captivating in its portrayal of the upheaval that took place in China at the beginning of the 1800s, seen through the eyes of this farming family.

Mary Lawson’s — The other side of the bridge *****

Mary Lawson’s — The other side of the bridge *****

After Laura arrives in a small Northern Ontario community, she falls in love with charismatic Jake. Unlike his older brother, Arthur, he is unpredictable. Once Laura becomes pregnant, it is Arthur who stands by her and as time passes, Laura learns to love him. But years later, when the irresistible Jake returns, the old attraction returns, and the rivalry between the brothers causes a tragic accident that can never be mended.

This is the best book I’ve read of Mary Lawson.

Anchee Min’s — Wild Ginger *****

Anchee Min’s — Wild Ginger *****

Set during the Cultural Revolution, Wild Ginger joins the Red Guards to save herself after her father is labelled a traitor and her mother commits suicide. But after she rises in the ranks, she’s faced with a dilemma. Evergreen loves Wild Ginger, but Mao prohibits romantic love. When Evergreen moves on to Maple, Wild Genger’s response is unpredictable.