When Shivan prepares to return to Colombo to bring his aging grandmother to Canada, memories of his childhood flood back. He remembers how he was the one forced to befriend the greedy and callous matriarch so his widowed mother and sister would not be kicked out of her house. He suffers her beatings and insults because his grandmother despises his mother for marrying a Tamil and producing two half Tamil children.
Set through an era of political hatred towards the Tamil minority (that still persists to day) and grappling with Shivan’s sexual orientation, this is a story wrought with tension on many levels.
Although Maggie’s mother is French Canadian, Maggie is sent to an English school by her English father. But in spite of her predominantly English up bringing, she falls in love with a poor French boy, Gabriel. At fifteen she discovers she’s pregnant. Pressured by 1950s Quebec’s stance on unwedded mothers and her beloved father’s threat of abandoning her if she keeps the child and has any more to do with Gabriel, Maggie’s child, Elodie is taken from her.
Goodman presents the English/French mistrust in Quebec to perfection and while at times the story is predictable, the experiences of little Elodie’s time in two institutions reflects the horror orphans of that era went through. A compelling read.
This book was recommended by fellow blogger Renee, the Global Bookwork and it’s definitely a five out of five (like every book I mention on this site).
Raami has an idealistic childhood in her Phnom Penh home with loving parents and servants. But when war breaks out in 1975 and the Khmer Rouge force everyone to flee from the city, the family joins the throngs of people and head to their holiday home with Raami’s extended family. They are lulled into a false sense of security until they are ordered to leave not only their second home, but their car. They trudge along with the rest of the hoards where soldiers watch over them, their guns poised, without knowing where they are headed.
This compelling novel is based on the writer’s personal experiences with names and locations changed.
In the late 1800s with the support of her father, Mitza Maric leaves her Eastern European home to study physics and math at the Polytechnic in Zurich. She is the only woman in her class where only Albert Einstein, a young student, befriends her. Mtiza is ambitious and a gifted math student, but when she becomes pregnant, her dreams are slowly shattered.
This fascinating tale based on research, makes us question how much of Einstein’s discoveries are accredited to the wrong scientist?
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.
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.
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?